How JustGiving’s Xamarin App Helps Great Causes Get Funding

JustGiving is the world’s largest fundraising organisation, which aims to provide online tools and services to help people collect charitable donations. A hugely successful company, since it was founded in 2000, JustGiving has helped people in 164 countries raise almost five billion dollars. Part of the company’s philosophy is to be a research and development team for every cause. To achieve such a bold aim, the company combines its social giving history with more intelligent and powerful ways to connect causes with people who care. As the popularity of mobile grew, JustGiving knew it had to deliver an outstanding app. And, to do that, it had to deliver an app that would provide a native experience regardless of platform, operating system or device. JustGiving turned to Xamarin for the answer, building an app that enables fundraisers to create pages, share causes, request donations and track funds, all from their mobile devices. 

 

Why Did JustGiving Need a Mobile App?

As a business model that focuses on social interactions, JustGiving quickly noticed the shift of its users to mobile. Mobile was growing quickly and, in 2005, JustGiving took stock and noticed that:

  • There were two and a half billion smartphones being used, and over half of Facebook users were mobile-only. 
  • Mobile users were spending more of their mobile internet time on apps than browsers. 
  • Once mobile apps attract the right audience, users spend on average an astonishing 18 times more than mobile web visitors. In other words, mobile apps help to drive customer loyalty. 

Mobile was a strong part of the JustGiving story from the outset, but once over 50 per cent of its user base was on the platform, it needed a significant shift. The company knew that mobile would be at the heart of its future solution, so it knew a mobile app was the way forward. They needed to build an app that would enable its mobile users to tell great stories and collect money seamlessly. 

 

Why JustGiving Chose Xamarin

JustGiving turned to Xamarin to enable it to deliver a solution that was as native as possible. When it comes to charitable donations, different platforms have different restrictions. For example, on iOS, payments are driven through a mobile browser, whereas on Android donations can be made in-app. Regardless of the platform, the experience needed to be as seamless as possible. 

There were two key features that Xamarin provided that gave it the edge for JustGiving:

  • Visual Studio – the development team was able to write code in a familiar environment but still build for iOS and Android. With a considerable amount of shared code, code could be shipped to iOS and Android without having to build two completely separate apps. 
  • Xamarin Test Cloud –  previously all the company’s mobile testing was done manually, which left much more room for error. By using Test Cloud, they could scale and test against many different devices, automate as much as possible and gain more confidence that the app would be stable on different operating systems and devices. 

By choosing Xamarin, JustGiving saved time and money on development, ensured they could continually test and iterate and delivered a native experience to all mobile users. 

 

The Benefits of Visual Studio Tools for Xamarin

As we’ve touched on, Visual Studio Tools is one of the reasons that JustGiving chose to develop its app with Xamarin. And, the reason for that is that apps built with Xamarin look and feel native, because they are. There is a shared .NET codebase which delivers native Android, iOS and Windows Apps. And when Microsoft talks about native, it means native user interfaces, native API access and native performance. The results are apps that look and behave the way that users expect.

Some of the many benefits of Visual Studio Tools for Xamarin include:

  • Single shared codebase – you can share code everywhere and target all platforms. In most cases, over 75 per cent of the app code will use the same language, APIs and data structures. 
  • Develop on PC or Mac – whichever operating system developers prefer to use, they have access to efficient code editing, debugging and publishing tools. 
  • Access to services and support – by subscribing users get access to core Microsoft software for development and testing as well as collaboration tools, training courses and professional support. 
  • Scalable solution – using .NET with Visual Studio, developers can build APIs and workflows that respond to user events on a global scale. They also have the opportunity to integrate AI and machine learning capabilities. 

 

The Success of the JustGiving App

JustGiving realised immediate success from its mobile app when it was launched in 2006, receiving tens of thousands of installs a month and thousands of active users. When they surveyed their user base, 95 per cent gave them a thumbs up. But, not only do users like the app, the stats show that they raise more money using it. JustGiving reported that those using JustGiving’s iOS app raised on average 26 per cent more than desktop users. 

By ensuring they delivered a native experience, the JustGiving app enables users to:

  • Easily search for friends pages or search for stories.
  • Donate at the touch of a button.
  • Receive push notifications for new donations, a huge motivator for fundraisers.
  • Share their story across other social networks.

 

Could Xamarin Help Your Business

JustGiving’s app is an excellent example of how to build an app that delights its users and makes what they’re trying to achieve easier. If your customer base is predominantly mobile, then you are missing a trick to not put an app in their hands. And, by developing a solution with Xamarin, you’ll have all of the tools at your disposal to create a native solution that you can rely on. 

 

To summarise, here are the challenges, the solution and the results that JustGiving experienced:

  • Challenges – JustGiving had a business model that focused on social interaction and quickly noticed that its mobile user-base was growing. While mobile had always been on its radar, it knew that a mobile app would enable the company to attract more users and drive more engagement. However, to make that happen, it needed to build an app that was native on all devices, enabling users to tell great stories and collect money seamlessly. 
  • Solution – JustGiving decided to use Xamarin to build its app so that the solution would be native, it would save time and money on development, and it would be able to constantly improve the mobile experience. Visual Studio for Xamarin enabled the development team to write code in a familiar environment and then share that code across iOS and Android instead of building separate apps. Meanwhile, Xamarin Test Cloud enabled them to scale and test against many different devices, automate and gain more confidence in the stability of their solutions. 
  • Results – JustGiving saw almost immediate success with their Xamarin mobile app. It received a huge number of installs and active users, and user-feedback was incredibly positive. What’s more, not only did users like the experience, the app has helped them to raise more money compared to desktop users. 
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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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