There are several difficult problems faced by charities in the information age:
- Competing for the attention of potential donators who are bombarded with news about social and environmental issues throughout the world
- Preventing people from feeling so overwhelmed by these issues that they simply switch off
- Making it easy for those who are motivated to help to make a contribution
- Keeping administrative costs low so that more money can be channeled to the cause in question
- Keeping donors updated on how their donation is being used
I think that there is a possibility that Apple can solve these issues, and in so doing radically transform peoples ability to connect with and solve social issues. I believe that Apple is uniquely positioned to give every Apple customer the power to play a role in making their own "dent in the universe".
Some simple points of reference:
- As of April 2014, Apple had over 800 million iTunes accounts
- Apple has online stores in 44 countries and authorised dealers across the globe
- As of 2014, Apple had over 98.000 employees worldwide
- Apple has the most technically sophisticated global supply network in the world
- Apples mobile devices (iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch), ship with the ability to make micro payments with the touch of a finger
- Apple Pay further extends this capability via POS terminals in businesses throughout the United States and there are plans to develop this service internationally
Some back of the envelope calculations and thoughts:
- If only 10% of Apple customers with iTunes accounts were to authorise a $1 (US) payment per week to a charitable fund. The fund would have yearly funding of $4.16 billion (US).
- Given Apple's existing technological and logistical prowess, administering these funds could likely be achieved with minimal administrative costs.
- Apple are masters at taking complex issues and producing software that simplifies the issues for the end user.
- Apple software is fun to use and Apple's hardware and software is rated very highly by end users.
- Apple has a corporate culture and history that encourages innovation, personal empowerment and “thinking different”.
- Apple's CEO Tim Cook has been a vocal supporter of social justice issues and has championed the companies drive to be a better corporate citizen.
- Apple also has a vested interest in improving the lives of not just its users/customers, but also those who manufacture and distribute its products.
- Apple has a vested interest in reducing its environmental impact.
- Technology access is increasingly becoming a social justice issue.
What might an Apple charity look like?
Imagine an app that was installed on every new Apple device. Lets call it Apple Give. When you open the Apple Give App, you can sign up to be an Apple Give donor by simply signing into your iTunes account with the touch of your finger. You will be presented with two options, a default donation of $1 (US) per week, or an “other” button which will allow you to input your own default donation. Once activated, you will be able to browse some of the programmes being run by Apple Give to see where your money will be donated, including localised programmes in your country. You will also be able to view the outcomes of previous programmes and view all the relevant financial information. (Apples acknowledged ability to take complex data/ideas and simplify them for the end user would come to the fore here.)
Each month, Apple Give would also feature a small selection of curated special programmes responding to current crises or areas of special needs (disaster relief, medical emergencies etc.). Apple Give donors would be able to view details of these programmes and would literally be able to reach out with their finger and help support efforts on the ground via an optional additional payment. (again, either a simple $1 (US) dollar donation or via a donation amount of their choosing).
Apple Give programmes would be chosen by a select group of trustees. This braintrust would be charged with applying Apple’s culture of innovation, collaboration, and thinking different to fund programmes that will have the most impact and that will benefit the world of Apple Give donors in the most positive ways. Apples technical expertise could also be bought to bear on challenging social and environmental issues, potentially bringing a whole new perspective on solving social and environmental issues.
Given that many people around the world could benefit from technology that they cannot afford, Apple Give could also provide an avenue to roll out programmes that get Apple products in the hands of those who would benefit from them the most, thus, truly making Apples products revolutionary.
So, there is my sketch of how Apple could revolutionise the act of giving in the internet age. I'd really love to hear what people think. And, if by some miracle, someone at Apple reads this, I'd love to come and help you develop it (hint, hint)!