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The iPad™. What the heck is an iPad™? Though this post will seek to explain the iPad™ and its uses, the real answer is that I still really have no idea. It’s not a computer, it’s not an e-reader, it’s not a phone, or an mp3 player; while it may look like a big iTouch, it’s really not even that. Alas, in some sense, it’s ALL of these things.
Its an all-in-one-fully-functional-uber-portable-technology-conglomerate capable of doing anything your other less sophisticated devices can do (except play flash). As Justin Wandro of Nonprofit Success puts it:
The new Ipad™ doesn’t provide any shocking never before seen technology. It simply takes the best of technology and puts it together in a seamless and intuitive way.
He’s right. Though Steve Jobs has claimed the iPad™ is “the most important product he’s ever worked on”, I’ll be honest; the iPad™ doesn’t blow me away, because, in truth, everything I can do on an iPad™ I could do before somewhere else. However, the iPad™ lets me do it all at once with one convenient, sleek and easy to use device. The iPad™ doesn’t have the capability to change the things we do, just how we do them, much like any other new tool, and like social media platforms. Facebook did not invent social networking, online communication, photo sharing, multi-user gaming or even electronic events and invitations, it just brought them all together in one place to make life much more convenient (now you only have to remember one password!).
While this blog series seeks to demystify many tech and social media tools and explain their potential impact on the nonprofit world, in essence all that these tools are really capable of is helping nonprofits do what they already do, but do it better, cheaper, faster and easier. So, that being said, here is how I think nonprofits will adapt their activities with the iPad™:
Gathering online donations has always been about getting people to your website via social media, newsletters or other methods. Now you can simply just go to where your donors are. Bring your iPad™ to an event, a concert, or a rally and seamlessly gather donations with only a few quick touches.
With the iPad™, event registration can turn from a bother to a breeze. Check out this article on Blue Sky Collaborative about a new iPad™ app called SWEET, meant to eliminate all of the headaches and expenses of event registration.
The most compelling and important assets nonprofits have is their stories. Whether for a CEO, a potential fundraiser or for a friend, with the iPad™ you can instantly share your PowerPoint or video anywhere, in the park or in the office, without the nuisance of finding a DVD player or connecting your computer to a TV; just simply tilt your iPad.
Apps for Elders
Yes, I just made that term up. But since the dawn of the iPhone, nonprofits have talked incessantly about the benefit of “Apps for Good”. With the small size of the iPhone, however these assets have remained for the most part off limits to older people, due to physical conditions like bad eyesight or arthritis. With a much larger viewing and interaction area, we finally have the perfect technology for older people. Check out this new app which helps older people test their hearing.
E-Books and Content Consumption
While the Kindle has started to reshape people’s reading behavior, the iPad™ will complete the transformation. People will be reading your blog on their morning commutes, and while many nonprofits cannot afford getting their books or papers published, they might be able to produce an e-book to sell at Apple’s new online bookstore. What’s more, as it is striving to bring the internet from the office into the living room, the iPad™ is likely to change the type of content people consume online, and nonprofits will have to adapt accordingly.
So at the end of the day, the iPad™ will not transform the nonprofit world, or multiply its fundraising capacity exponentially or solve all of the world’s problems. It will, however, offer nonprofits many new and innovative ways to reach out to people, to tell its many stories and have fun while doing it. The most exciting part is that, as this technology is only beginning to develop, the iPad™ is only the snowball that started the avalanche, and we are a long way away from realizing the full potential impact of this new technology.
Apps for Good by Eric Johnson on the Case Foundation blog
Do Nonprofits Need To Consider iPads in their Mobile/WebStrategy? on Beth Kanter's blog
How the iPad Can Help Your Nonprofit on Smart Underdogs
Apple iPad Gets Out of the Way So Should You on Nonprofit Success