Most of us have been there at one time or another. We’re walking hurriedly along a city street when our mind registers a homeless person nearby, lying on a blanket on the sidewalk with a cup for coins. And despite our varying political convictions, for most of us the image evokes a powerful combination of empathy, compassion, and a genuine desire to do something to help out a fellow human in such dire straits. But even with the best of intentions, we’re generally at a loss as to how to turn that into action. Most of us are not social workers or aware of how to connect the homeless with help—shelters or services. So, we part with a couple of dollars, buy them some groceries, maybe a hot meal—and then, we keep walking. And by the time we turn the next corner, our conscience is scrubbed clean, along with the image of what we’ve seen, and we resume our everyday lives without further ado. We want to do more. We really do. But, what else can we do?
Well, as it turns out, quite a bit, with the mere click of our smartphone screen—thanks to the New York City Rescue Mission and their great new mobile app. The legendary philanthropic organization—the first of its kind in America—has been providing food, shelter, clothing, and hope to the needy of NYC since 1872. And to keep up with the times, they’ve recently collaborated with Swiftic to create an app that makes it easier than ever to tune into our inner altruist and offer practical help to people in need around the city, like directions to the nearest homeless shelter and information about the mission’s various services. The app is a also direct gateway to volunteering, raising awareness, and making donations.
And so in the spirit of giving as we usher in the holiday season, read on, get their app, and join us in honoring the New York City Rescue Mission and their move to mobile.
The New York City Rescue Mission was founded by Jerry McAuley, a former homeless criminal who experienced a major personal transformation and went on to establish America’s first homeless shelter. The mission is a place where people who have hit the proverbial bottom can find hope—its aim is to “end hunger and homelessness in NYC… one life at a time.” Thanks to a recent expansion, the facilities currently house 250 beds for the homeless, as well as a soup kitchen that serves 300-500 people a day. There is also a food pantry, a space for donated clothing, and a recovery program for those who are determined to improve their lives by finding steady employment, beating addiction, and developing discipline. The mission doesn’t stop at food and shelter—it helps the homeless and hungry achieve permanent solutions that enable them to grow and build their lives. We’ll let them tell you the rest…
Why did you decide to build an app?
“We built an app because we’re trying to be more forward thinking with how we engage with our community. We’re in NYC—an extremely digital, modern city, where it’s imperative we meet people where they spend most of their time. And nowadays, that’s on their mobile device. Communication has become mobile. By giving New Yorkers a really modern way to engage with us, we’re able to target a younger audience and raise awareness about the services we offer. People need to know that we are here to help, and a mobile app is the best way to spread the word.”
Why did you choose Swiftic as an app builder as opposed to other DIY app tools?
“We discussed this last year, and we quickly discovered that Swiftic was the easiest to navigate and the most designer/user friendly. Since then, we’ve also found that it’s very easy to update and monitor our app on the Swiftic platform.”
How about your top 3 business/marketing challenges?
“Fundraising is extremely difficult at times. Our other two biggest challenges are awareness and resources. We really want to partner with different organizations, artists, professionals, and businesses to bring more hope to our city. Such partnerships, like our relationship with Swiftic, could greatly help us raise awareness and do what we do even better. We’ve made huge strides this year with our Make Them Visible video on YouTube, which has gotten 5 million views, and we feel we still have a long way to go.”
How did your app address/help you overcome these challenges?
“The app has helped us raise awareness and connect to more and more people. It has enormous potential, and we are finding new ways to fulfill that potential all the time. We feel our app can really benefit the city as a whole and make people aware of everything we offer.”
What specific features did you incorporate into your Swiftic app?
“Swiftic has great features to choose from, giving us options to add different features, such as an About Us page, a Contact Us form, and a Find Us feature so people can easily locate us on the map. We also use the Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Blog features to link to our social media pages. And we incorporated a Donations link, Contact Info, and a Ways to Get Involved page.”
How has the NYC Rescue Mission benefited from the app in ways you didn’t expect?
“We’ve had a lot of people find the mission with our Find Us feature without having to tell them about it, which has been cool. And we’re excited to see more results as we grow!”
How have your supporters responded to your mobile app?
“They have described the app as an incredibly helpful tool to help the homeless. When passing by needy people on the street, it’s easy to pull up the app and provide exact solutions to their needs—for example, when and where to come for dinner, clothing, or shelter.”
What specific features do your users like most about the app?
“The general information about the services we provide and directions to the shelter.”
In conclusion, what’s your best tip in building a successful app?
“It’s important to know your users and their expectations when they download your app. If it isn’t incredibly simple and easy to navigate, it will go unused and eventually be deleted.”
Fortunately for the homeless, the NYC Rescue Mission app checks out on all counts. It’s a great app, and there’s no better time to get it and let that good will flow. Here’s to counting our many blessings. Happy Holidays!