If you want to help end poverty or save the environment, but you are short on time or money, there’s an app for that! That’s right, today, there are a number of apps that can help you be more charitable right from your phone. From charity apps that make giving as easy as a click of a button to experiential apps that provide a window into the life of poverty-stricken refugees, there is a lot out there.
This article will look at four free apps that are not only free to download, but allow you to support charity without spending a dime. Whether it’s taking a few minutes of your time or earning cash on the things you are already doing, there are a number of ways you can create charitable donations with your phone.
For Active People
If you like to run, walk or bike, the easiest way to help support charity is with Charity Miles. You earn donations for every mile, with the actual dollars being provided by corporate sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Brooks Running and Thrive Market.
Once you have downloaded the app and set up your account, simply track your miles to earn 25 cents per mile for walking or running and 10 cents for each mile you bike. It might not seem like much, but for those of you getting your daily 10,000 or more steps, the numbers start to really add up.
Charity Miles has been around since 2012 and it supports 40 different charities including ASPCA, Feeding America, Save The Children, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Nature Conservancy and others.
Calling All Happy Snappers
Many people use their smartphone as a camera as much as they do a phone. Now you can put those snaps to good use with Donate A Photo by Johnson & Johnson. It’s pretty straightforward: pick your charity, share a photo through the app, and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to your cause of choice.
Donate A Photo provides charity categories so you can easily browse the choices to find the charity you would like to help. You can only donate one photo a day, but like with the miles you run, those dollars start to stack up if you do it every day.
For people who like to take lots of photos, this is an easy way to help feed families, protect the environment and save lives. Before you start snapping and posting, however, note that you are giving Johnson & Johnson a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right and license to use your content in any way they wish on their website, sites they own or those of their affiliates, so don’t submit anything you might want to use exclusively elsewhere.
The Least Effort App
Give 2 Charity has to be the easiest of the bunch. All you need to do to earn points is literally carry your phone—something you already do. You earn daily points which can be redeemed for a charitable donation to one of their preselected causes. At the time of writing there are 10 charities to choose from: Action Against Hunger, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Sandy Hook Promise, Susan G. Komen and The Salvation Army.
The app works by running in the background using the GPS on your device to track your location. It measures device location and app data, which along with your demographic information, is collected and aggregated for use in surveys by third parties. Give 2 Charity states that all data is stored in a secure database and your specific individual data is not available to third parties.
Their points system is simple: for 1,500 points they donate $2, 3,000 points equals a $5 donation, and 5,000 points nets $10 for your charity of choice. Points are tracked and donations are made at the end of each month. The best part about this app is 100% of the proceeds go to the charity. You can also earn bonus points by sharing the program on your social networks and answering survey questions.
Learn Something & Help End Hunger
Give your brain cells a workout and help end world hunger with Free Rice. Operated by the United Nations World Food Programme, “the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide”, this charity-owned app is easy, fun and effective at providing real assistance to people in need. Simply answer quiz questions and for each answer you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme.
You can choose from a range of subjects, so you won’t get bored—and you might even learn something new! Quiz categories include English, Geography, Math, Sciences, Language Learning and more, and for those with a competitive streak there are weekly rankings of the top players.
Like with all of these apps, donating 10 grains of rice per correct answer might seem like a drop in the ocean when it comes to ending hunger, however, with over 95 billion grains donated to date, you can rest assured that you are part of a collective effort that is huge.
Secondly, apps that run continuously in the background on your phone decrease battery life. The battery drain can be significant in some cases, especially if the app uses GPS. Of course, not all of these apps do run continuously, but if you do choose one that does, keep an eye on your battery levels at first.
The final important note on free charity apps is that in most cases, charities don’t benefit as much from your smartphone philanthropy as they would from a direct donation. Most charitable app companies are sponsored by other companies, and they take a sizeable chunk of those dollars to operate their services. The amount varies, but according to Nonprofit Technology News, apps like Charity Miles takes 50% of the proceeds. That doesn’t make apps bad, they’re just not as efficient as donating money or time directly to your favorite charities.
Speaking of efficiencies, it is also a good idea to check out how efficient your preferred charities are with the dollars you donate. A great resource for making smart charity choices is Charity Navigator, which provides ratings for charities within the United States.
Charity apps offer a fun way to give more, but rather than replacing your current philanthropic activities, perhaps they are best added to your charitable playlist instead.