May 22, 2010

iGorilla: A Mobile App to Help Save African Gorillas

What if there was a way to help save the African gorillas with your mobile phone? iGorilla, available for the iPhone and iPad, allow users to follow the lives of gorilla families in Virunga National Park’s remote forests. Through the Apple App Store, iGorilla costs $4.00, with $2.80 going toward supporting the efforts of preserving the natural habitat of the park, which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Upon downloading the app, users are able to choose a gorilla family, learn more about individual members and follow their lives through reports, photographs and videos. (Photo: provides a thorough review of the iGorilla app. The review notes that a mobile device app is a great way for nonprofits to engage with their donors who are on the go. “Although not the first charity-based iPhone app, iGorilla is a good model for savvy organizations that see the increasing relevance of the mobile web.” In addition to engaging with donors, mobile apps provide an opportunity for nonprofits to tell their story and promote operational transparency and financial accountability.

The review also notes a few shortcomings of iGorilla. “What is sorely missing from this app is social media integration. The website gives visitors the opportunity to share blog posts, videos and pictures on Facebook and via email, but the iPhone app lacks this social sharing capability. It would also be great to see the park add features to give users more opportunities/reminders to donate. What if I was able to get a pop-up notification each time a post relating to my gorilla family was added? What if blog posts outlined the problem and exactly what materials are needed to fix it, then offered a chance to donate funds for these specific items. This would contribute to the transparency that the park has already cultivated on its website, where people can pitch in to specifically purchase petrol, sacks, and support for gorilla orphans as well as park rangers.” (Photo: Juan Pablo Moreiras/UNESCO)

I invite readers of this blog to share their ideas on how can a nonprofit organization broaden its footprint through mobile apps. What are some of the other organizations using mobile apps?

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