We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it a million times: we’re busy, and we’re on a budget. That doesn’t exclude us from being decent, big-hearted people who care deeply about good causes, though. It’s a classic catch-22: you may be super passionate about music education, eco-friendly causes, or accessible healthcare, but you don’t have the spare cash to donate, let alone the time to scan Charity Navigator to make sure that cash is actually doing something helpful. But it’s 2019, friends, and guess what? We have so many options now. The App Store (and Google Play, of course!) has got your back across the board, from apps that convert your everyday steps into charitable donations to the ones that give you free money toward excellent causes every time make a purchase during the day. Oh yeah, the future is bright – and it has virtually endless free, handheld ways to create an impact in the areas you care most about.
In the same you-were-going-to-do-it-anyway vein, downloading the Inspired app is the perfect way to give all of your daily spending major philanthropic power – at no cost to you, naturally. When you download the Inspired app and link your card, every time you spend, you generate a free donation (paid for by the company) to one of their super exciting cause-based projects. It’s basically like getting free money to donate, just by living your life! While Donate a Photo has a big focus on healthcare, Inspired’s core driver is supporting music and the arts – especially for kids who may not otherwise have access – through their charity partner, DonorsChoose.org. A few of the other charity partners are Chance the Rapper’s nonprofit, Social Works – supporting the Chicago homeless community – and Zac Brown Band’s Camp Southern Ground – helping kids of all backgrounds and abilities get a fabulous summer camp experience. For music lovers, this is a no-brainer, and for everyone else…well, same. The company plans to expand its charity partners and opportunities as they continue to grow, so whatever is closest to your heart will be supported soon! Think about it this way: you’re already going to buy those groceries/subway passes/beer. Time to double down and put that spending to work, for free.
For those of us who love the idea of cruelty-free products but may not have all the brands and details worked out, Cruelty Cutter takes 99% of the work out of your shopping trip. When you download the app, you can either look up a product you’re thinking about buying, or you can scan the barcode and get immediate info about its animal testing status. What sets Cruelty Cutter apart from other barcode-scanner apps is its activist edge; the app encourages you to share your findings on social media – whether its praise for cruelty-free companies or an opportunity to express concern to a brand that isn’t up-to-par. In fact, when you share this data with friends/brands on social, you earn Doggie Dollars, which get you coupons for more cruelty-free items. Shop clean, spread awareness, and earn discounts – the perfect cycle of animal-friendly shopping at no extra cost.
This one’s really fun, because it’s tapped into our literally endless capacity to take and share photos. For every photo taken and posted to the Donate a Photo app, Johnson & Johnson donates one dollar to one of their healthcare-based causes. According to the site, you can post one photo a day every day of the year if you want, and photos can include “Pets. Selfies. (Pet selfies?) Yes. Because every photo counts,” which we fully support. (To be honest, we were on board from the second their promo video asked “How did this dog in a wig save lives?”) All you do is take a photo, choose a cause, and share on the app. If you’re genuinely not the artsy type, you could theoretically post a different angle of the same house plant every day for a week. Seriously, all photos have the power to do good. For us show-offs, this is a daily opportunity to get a little creative with our perspective. A win/win/win.
Just taking a shot here, but odds are you probably move during the day. We’re not even talking anything monumental – walking to the bus stop, grabbing your morning coffee, etc. You’d be surprised how fast those steps add up. Charity Miles is in on the secret though, and they’ve harnessed the power of everyday movement (walking, running, biking, dancing – they all count) to give back to causes. It works in much the same way as a regular road race: Charity Miles’ corporate partners have pledged a donation per mile, so those two miles you decided to walk instead of taking the subway this afternoon are being put to work, at zero cost to you. You can choose your favorite cause from their long list of partner charities, from The Special Olympics to The National Park Foundation, and allocate your free donations accordingly. You’re already moving, so what’s a two-second app download in order to create limitless impact?
While this one isn’t totally free (more on that in a second), it was too fun to leave out. Lazy Jar is a brilliant app that keeps you on track with your fitness goals – not by rewarding productive behaviors, but by literally charging you for laziness and donating up to 80% of the proceeds to good causes. Don’t respond well to basic positive reinforcement? Hang the threat of losing a bit of cash over your own head. Works like a charm. Worst case scenario, you’re out a few bucks and you did a little bit of good for causes like St. Jude’s. While the app itself is free, Lazy Jar does take a refundable $30 security deposit at the beginning of your fitness journey to make sure you’re serious. Even if you don’t meet your initial goal, you’ll still get your money back at the end of the program. Unless of course you quit early, which means you forfeit your deposit – but it goes to help some kids who need it. It’s a fun, low-risk way to do a little good for yourself (and potentially others) for very cheap. Hilarious concept. 10/10 would recommend.
Ultimately, the new app-based era of giving is all about ease and convenience. Each of these opportunities allow you to be a little more altruistic, while fitting seamlessly into your lifestyle – some so much that you might forget you’re actually doing charitable work. While we’re still big advocates for getting out, volunteering, and interacting with your community when you can, giving-based apps are perhaps the single strongest supplement to the traditional charity scene, and they’re making a major difference. (Maybe you even have your own idea to build an app?!) Whether through your daily steps, spending , or Instagram photos, the components of your everyday routine are now monetizable like never before and when scaled, the impact is a seriously exciting thing to behold.