Accept donations in an app

App Store Approval for Nonprofit Donation Apps

Apple allows nonprofits to accept donations inside apps. This article outlines the exact steps I followed to get App Store approval for a client I worked with in 2016.

Before we get into the steps for getting your app approved, take a look at Boston College’s alumni app. This is an example of an app that Apple has allowed to accept donations.


Apple’s Cut

Apple’s 30% commission applies to payments made through in-app purchases (IAP). However, charitable donations are not processed through IAP, so this commission does not apply to donations made within your app.

Current App Store Guidelines

Apple’s App Review Guidelines include two sections that relate to acceptable and non acceptable business models involving charitable donations.

  • App Review Guidelines 3.2.1 (vi): Approved nonprofits can fundraise directly within their own apps or third-party apps, provided they adhere to all App Review Guidelines and offer Apple Pay support.
  • App Review Guidelines 3.2.2 (iv): Unless you are an approved nonprofit, you cannot collect funds within the app. Such apps must be free on the App Store and collect donations outside the app via Safari or SMS.

Steps to Get Your Donation App Approved

  1. Become an Approved Nonprofit
    • To collect donations directly within your app, your nonprofit must be approved by the relevant authorities:
  2. Support Apple Pay
    • App Review requires that your app supports Apple Pay for donation processing. Ensure that your app integrates Apple Pay, even if you offer other payment methods. You are allowed to accept other payment methods as long as you also support Apple Pay in all locations where Apple Pay is available.
  3. Transparent Donation Process
    • Clearly disclose how the funds will be used within the app. Transparency builds trust with users and meets App Store guidelines.
    • Ensure that your app abides by all local and federal laws regarding fundraising and provides appropriate tax receipts to donors.
  4. Provide Comprehensive Metadata
    • When submitting your app, include detailed information about your nonprofit, the fundraising process, and how the donations will be utilized.
    • Be prepared to provide additional information to App Review upon request.

Alternative Donation Methods (If Not Approved Nonprofit)

If your nonprofit has not gone through the approval process, your app can still promote donations. However, you will need to direct users to a website or SMS number for donations, rather than collecting funds directly within the app. Ensure your app is free to download and use if it links out for donations.

Comply with the guidelines and your app will be approved

Understanding Apple’s policies regarding in-app purchases and charitable donations is crucial for navigating the App Store approval process for your nonprofit donation app. By following these guidelines and steps, you can ensure compliance with Apple’s requirements and increase the likelihood of your app being approved for distribution on the App Store.