Apple Shunned for iPhone's No-Donation Policy

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Even the Grinch is upset with Apple over the iPhone's inability to allow in-app charitable donations.

Although the policy is long-standing, one non-profit consultant is hoping to turn up the heat with an online petition, during a season when lots of people donate to charity. The petition, as of this writing, has nearly 2,000 signatures.

Non-profit iPhone apps can only send users to external Websites, where they must type in all their payment information. It's a cumbersome process according to Beth Kanter, who started the petition and created the Grinch vs. Steve Jobs image pictured here. In protest, Kanter has switched from the iPhone to Android, the New York Times reports.

Apple allows in-app purchases on its iOS devices, but like everything else in the App Store, Apple takes a cut of the transaction. A profit for Apple wouldn't go over well for charitable donations, so to make exceptions, Apple would then have to get in the business of separating legitimate charity apps from bogus enterprises.

Still, Apple has even crushed workarounds to this problem. In August, Paypal added a donation feature to its app, using a third-party called MissionFish to handle the administrative duties. Two months later, after Paypal had collected more than $10,000 in donations, Apple ordered the feature's removal. Paypal is now about to introduce a similar feature for its Android app.

I doubt that Apple couldn't allow charitable donations on a case-by-case basis, as the company as allowed exceptions to its own rules before.. When Apple purged "overtly sexual content" from the App Store last February, it created a double standard for apps with "previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format." Apps from Playboy and Sports Illustrated were allowed to remain because their publishers were well-known. Why not apply a similar standard for large charities such as the American Cancer Society, and waive Apple's cut for in-app payments?

Obviously, if being sent to an external Website is what deters you from making a donation, you're being kind of a Scrooge. But the reality is that people will put off donations when the process is inconvenient, and in-app solutions would eliminate that barrier. It's time for Apple to make it happen.

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