However, recent developments are simplifying things. I admit that I didn’t get it at first, but the iPad might just be the device that opens up accessibility to the net for anyone. The hardware and the operating system are so unobtrusive they’re almost invisible. You use the Web instead of operating a computer — there’s no mouse to get used to, the touch keyboard is reasonably usable, you can adjust font sizes and it’s surprisingly easy to read without eyestrain. Better still, software developers have realized that you can’t and shouldn’t attempt to pack all the features and settings into an app that you can on a PC. That makes the apps easier to use and more affordable. Facebook on the iPhone or iPad is much easier to understand than the full website.
Now imagine the new generation of donors whose experience of technology will be the iPad and whatever follows. These donors won't be exposed to the complexities of the operating system, and they’ll drive the technology on the basis that it just works somehow. If it goes wrong, they just call the "garage" for help. And that’s what will open technology for the traditional support base of older people.
So to get my in-laws to support your nonprofit, you’re going to have to make your website very easy to use and accessible. And I might need to convince them that, having bought that laptop two years ago, an iPad might be a better idea now.
Robin Fisk is a senior charity technology specialist at Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit software provider Advanced Solutions International (ASI).