Google is launching a new feature for Android phones today through its Play Store app marketplace that will let anyone donate to a number of US nonprofits, with 100 percent of the donation going to the chosen organization. Google is waiving its traditional 30 percent fee for apps and in-app purchases as part of the program, which the company is calling Giving Season on Play. Some of the nonprofits include the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders USA, Girls Who Code, and UNICEF. The full list of charities can be found here.
This is a notable change in policy for Google, which has avoided letting app developers process donations to nonprofits in the past, for reasons likely related to the thorny regulatory and tax issues on collecting its 30 percent fee from charitable gifts. (Most donations are tax-deductible in the US, yet having to account for 30 percent of a donation through the Play Store complicates that process.)
“In celebration of the holiday giving season, we’re making an update to the Google Play Store that lets you make charitable donations to inspiring nonprofits,” writes Maxim Mai, Google Play’s business developer manager. “It’s quick, easy and 100 percent of your contributions go directly to the organizations you choose.” Google isn’t restricting the feature to US Play Store users; Mai says the donation feature will be coming to users in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, and Indonesia “over the coming days.”
Apple has in recent years also begun using its App Store as a way to process mobile donations to nonprofits, especially during natural disasters. It’s typically done this for the Red Cross, and it most recently accepted donations via the front page of the App Store for flooding in Kerala, India, back in August. Apple also did the same through iTunes and the App Store earlier this year for the California wildfires and for Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In 2016, the company opened Apple Pay to nonprofits, after previously barring apps from collecting in-app donations with the payment system and typically requiring users to do so through Safari or SMS.