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Review: Ujama Featured

Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on annual events and galas for the bulk of their donations. Since the pandemic – many nonprofits have had to cancel or postpone their events. Others have opted to switch to virtual events – but that comes with its own set-backs and learning curves. Ujama, a predominately mobile app hopes that their application can change the way charities set up and carry out their annual events.

In Use:

Ujama was founded in 2016 by CEO, Hugh Molotsi. The mobile app was originally started as a way to bring parents together - to “alleviate the burden of challenges” such as transportation, pick up time, and after-school activities. Since its inception four years ago, the app has expanded into a tool that nonprofit organizations can utilize to promote virtual events and silent auctions. The app is currently free for nonprofits to use and consists mainly of a chat function. One nonprofit, Assisted Animal Happiness uses this feature to place items up for bid that donors can purchase on the app.

Ease of Use:

Because Ujama is mainly a message board it is pretty easy to maneuver and bid on items. Ujama also acts as an app to bring parents together in the community – so it may be confusing at first for a donor. I recently spoke to Vicki Amon-Higaof, co-founder of Assisted Animal Happiness located in the Bay Area. She realized she could use Ujama to post items for their silent auction prior to their Virtual Evening at the Barnyard Fundraiser – an event that they usually host in person. “We have been able to put the URL on our website and other material and send people right into the chat,” she explained after hearing about Ujama from Michelle Molotsi who is also on the Board of Directors at Assisted Animal Happiness. So far, Vicki is impressed with the results. She noticed that some people join the chat and come back often – bidding on and watching items that they’re interested in.

Technology Needed:

Ujama is a free mobile app that is available on both Android and iPhone devices. When purchasing items or bidding in a silent auction – users purchase the item through the app itself. When asked about security concerns – Molotsi explained the app uses Stripe to process payments. “Buyers are charged the payment fees and not the recipients, so nonprofits keep all the money they raise.” Molotsi added, “Ujama does not make any money on payment fees.”

Recap:

Nonprofit organizations can use Ujama, a mobile app for chat features, and virtual silent auctions where donors can bid and purchase items in lieu of an in-person event. A charity can send a link to a potential donor to download the app and participate on the platform. As of now the mobile app is free for charities to use.

Advantages

  • It is a free mobile app that nonprofits can use for silent auctions
  • Easy to navigate
  • Donors can bid on items and purchase them through the app
  • Ujama uses Stripe – a secure payment processing tool

Disadvantages

  • Could be confusing since the app was originally made for parents to connect
  • No “Help” button within the app

My Opinion

Ujama recently rolled out their mobile app to nonprofit organizations. At the moment it just consists of a chat functionality. That being said - Assisted Animal Happiness has had success using the tool for their silent auction and is happy with the app.

In the future, if Ujama is serious about making this a tool for nonprofits – I would like to see more tools that nonprofits can utilize instead of just the chat function.

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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.