March 11, 2014  |  by Brianna McKinney

If you’ve spent any time in the nonprofit world, then you already know that raising funds can be the most difficult part of pushing a great idea to fruition. Getting the people that can make a real difference interested in your organization are often hard to reach, and even harder to convince. So, what should you think about One Today, a crowdfunding mobile app launched by Google around this time last year?

What is One Today?

In theory, the program is simple. A user downloads the official iOS or Android app and links their bank account or credit card information to deduct donations. Every day, the person receives an alert with a list of nonprofit projects that they might be interested in and can choose which one should receive their donation of one dollar. Simple as that – no ulterior advertising motives or distractions. Every month, the donations are tallied and sent to their respective organizations. It does bear mentioning that Google retains 1.9% of all donations to cover the cost of payment processing.

One way that Google approaches fundraising differently is to use increments to show how the money would be used – such as $1 translating to a malaria test and treatment. This gives people a clearer picture of how their money will be used and how it can help. The types of projects that are listed on One Today are quite varied, ranging from environmental and wildlife concerns like The Nature Conservancy’s “Adopt a Coral Reef” program to more human-centered projects like providing food for those that are starving by Give a Child a Life.

At first glance, the promise of a single dollar might not do much to convince you that the program is worth the time you’ll need to put into it. After all, it’s usually the big donors (or lack thereof) that literally make or break a project. Still, there is something to be said for One Today and what it might be able to do for nonprofits. But let’s start with the most important question.

The Money

If One Today is about charitable donations, then the big question is obviously if it will deliver. In short, the answer is maybe. One Today has some peculiar rules in place, such as only letting a person give one dollar per day to the organization of their choice. Therefore, if you’re hoping that all your funds are going to come from just this program alone, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. Yeah, a dollar is something and every little bit helps, but how many people will it take donating a dollar to reach an amount that can effect real change. However, money’s not the end-all bottom line and there’s another factor that may make it a better opportunity than you think.

The Social Aspect

The other side of the app is that it has a social feature, which means that a user can share their donation across Google+, Twitter, and other platforms. The idea behind this is to encourage friends, family, and colleagues to give to the same causes, thus boosting the amount donated and increase the viability of a given project. If the social sharing motivation comes from the right place, it can render some pretty positive results.

The big benefit of One Today may not be the immediate money that you receive from the program, but the awareness. There’s nothing stopping a philanthropist from finding your organization on One Today and then contacting you directly to make a donation. And this is where the key of One Today comes in – you’re using the incredible power of Google to raise awareness and not necessarily for immediate funding. Google has an extremely wide reach, so what you’re doing is essentially putting your name on a huge billboard, making your organization that much more noticeable. If the rise of social media networks has taught us anything, it’s that awareness is definitely a good thing. One Today is US-only now, but a global rollout is expected eventually, extending a project’s reach even further.

How to Get Started

If you’re thinking about giving the One Today app a go, the sign-up process is relatively simple. The first thing to do is read the requirements and sign up for a membership with Google for Nonprofits (which is also a good idea for other reasons, like free ad grant money and fee licensing for Google products). After being approved, getting a new project listed will take about 10 minutes and you’ll be good to go. Google will keep you informed of when your listing will appear and how many donations you receive.

What’s to stop this power from falling into the wrong hands? Well, Google has teamed up with Network for Good, a payment processor started in 2001 by America Online. Every nonprofit organization that signs up for One Today will need to go through a rigorous vetting program to make sure they are legit. Only approved organizations will make it into the app, which should work to keep any fraudulent efforts out of the mix.

One Today is about to turn 1, so as a relatively new app there are no definitive results yet. That said, if your nonprofit is looking for an additional source of funds (although potentially small), then taking the 10 minutes to sign up is certainly worth considering.