iMutt helps create awareness about abandoned dogs as well as raising money for Dogs Trust. It does this by allowing the user to look after an animated ‘digital’ rescue dog for 5 days (much like the idea behind owning a Tamagotchi pet). Once you have met your digital pet and named him or her, you are in charge of feeding, walking and training the animal.
Other content includes donation options, background story of your dog and a link to share your game with your contacts via social media.
The app gives you regular reminders to do your duty as a digital pet owner via push notifications. Throughout the day, you are told to pay the pet some attention, feed it or talk it for a walk. But be warned: if you ignore your new digital friend, it quickly loses energy and will become increasingly unhappy.
The interface of the app is pleasing, easy to use and engaging. The animated dog is based on a real image rather than a cartoon, making it reasonably realistic, thought provoking and suitable for a wide range of age groups.
Comments on its fundraising potential/record
Fundraising is all about inspiring the donor with a clear call to action. This tool does an excellent job of raising awareness of Dogs Trust and the challenges of looking after a dog, but I found the notifications of the digital pet’s suffering a bit too annoying. Perhaps stirring feelings of guilt is a good basis to start to build donor motivation, but where this app falls down, in my opinion, is in offering a clear solution that the donor can offer. In fact, after playing the game for a day, I became quite keen to uninstall it!
Directly linking the game play with donating may push up income generation. If, for example, it had the option to donate money in return for a credit to get a virtual assistant to walk the dog, or to buy extra treats for your dog, you would feel more inclined to give.
Having said that, this app is one of the better examples on the market. It clearly helps to promote the mission of Dogs Trust, and perhaps making one or two unsuitable prospective pet owners think twice about taking on a rescue dog.
The challenge that the app didn’t quite overcome is how to bring together two slightly different aims – raising awareness of the how challenging it is to look after a pet, and linking this explicitly with a clear and positive call to action.
Links to similar apps? This is similar to iHobo – albeit not as ‘gritty’ – the app by Depaul Trust.
Name of app: iMutt
Publisher/organisation: Dogs Trust
Date of launch/Latest version: 23 August 2011
Platform: Apple iPad/iPhone
Wendy has a background in fundraising and marketing. She has worked in the voluntary sector for over a decade and has worked for both large and small charities. She has experience of managing the delivery of major events, designing and implementing marketing and PR initiatives as well as managing bid writing and programme development functions. In her spare time, she assists with the production for an arts based radio station programme and runs a regular cabaret night and has produced a short film. She is currently Head of Fundraising Development at Tomorrow's People Trust.
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