So You Wanna Build an App for That: Experts Share Tips on Taking Apps from Need to Launch

Sometimes a mobile app just might be the right solution. A well-designed app can be the best way for your nonprofit to motivate people to take action, change behaviors, convey important information, and inspire real change. Apps can also help your organization connect with underserved or hard-to-reach communities, and empower them with new access to the resources and information they need. The success of your app — or SMS product, game, or other digital product — will depend not just on the wow factor of the finished product, but on the quality and integrity of your entire app development process.

Through a highly interactive facilitated discussion, you’ll have a chance to talk to a diverse group of experts about every step of the app development process. In small group discussions, you’ll get to ask these experts your questions about getting buy-in from your colleagues and partners, collaborating with your community throughout the process, and building your team and hiring tech experts. You’ll get their advice about choosing the right product (whether it’s a mobile app or otherwise), setting budget and timeline, design and testing, launch, marketing, release updates, and everything else along the way.


Lauren Girardin

Communications Consultant, Writer, and Trainer

Lauren Girardin Consulting
I use my creative chutzpah to help nonprofits and foundations engage their communities and share their stories. I show organizations how to experiment bravely in their social media, blogging, content marketing, media relations, presentations, brand messaging, and other digital and traditional communications. My clients have included California Family Health Council and TeenSource, Caravan Studios, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, GovLoop, NGOsource, Points of Light, Rebuilding Together, TechSoup Global, YTH, and others. Get in touch at

Eric Leland


Eric Leland has spent the last 15 years working with progressive organizations tackling online and offline technology challenges both on staff and as a consultant. As a founding partner of FivePaths (, Eric focuses on strategic technology planning, website and database planning and development for small businesses, progressive health and human services organizations, human rights and advocacy groups. Eric served as the Director of TechCommons at, one of the nation's most comprehensive nonprofit technology assistance organizations. Eric managed nine technology activists seeking solutions to systemic nonprofit technology issues, leveraging the latest online tools to engage nonprofits and solution providers to contribute to lasting solutions. Eric is very active in nonprofit and technology circles. He is a member and served as the co-chair to the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network in San Francisco (, and as a member of the Graphic Alliance and the Tech Underground

Alex Medina

Digital Communications Officer


Mark Johnson

Founding Partner

Focused Apps

Marnie Webb

CEO, Caravan Studios

Marnie Webb is the CEO of Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup Global, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Caravan Studios’ collaborative approach uses a theory of technology intervention to allow communities to respond to the issues they care about most. Caravan Studios recently launched SafeNight, a mobile service that allows domestic violence organizations to crowdsource funding for hotel rooms when shelter is urgently needed. Funded by Microsoft Citizenship, Blue Shield of California Foundation and Vodafone Americas Foundation, SafeNight represents Caravan Studios’ belief that technology can be used to illuminate issues, identify problems, and evoke action. Previously, Webb was co-CEO of TechSoup Global, a 25-year-old organization that distributes more than $600 million in donated technology to NGOs world-wide. In this role, Webb counseled Fortune 500 technology companies, such as Cisco and Microsoft, on philanthropic initiatives that align with their business objectives and recognize the creativity and innovation that nonprofits have to offer. Named one of the Top 10 Silicon Valley Influencers by San Jose Mercury News, Webb is a sought after writer and speaker on innovation, community, and the social web. In 2008, she won NTEN “Person of the Year” award and was included in to the Nonprofit Times’ list of the 50 most influential leaders in the U.S. nonprofit sector and is the initiator of the NPTech tagging experiment.

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