Let's face it: There are a lot of silly smartphone apps out there. A lot.
Enjoy Toilet Paper is an app that allows you to roll digital toilet paper — that's it. Is It Dark Outside? solves a problem you could figure out by peeking out a window (or actually going outside). Send Me to Heaven is an app that asks you to throw your phone as high into the air as humanly possible, AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO IT.
But the converse is also true: With as little effort as it takes to swipe right on a potential love match or tweet our thoughts on the weekend's football games, we can easily create positive social change.
It sounds corny, I know, but there are actually dozens of apps that make contributing to the world around you just a click away. Here are five of them.
Are you someone who yearns for the attention of a crowd? A truth-or-dare fanatic, maybe? Or are you simply looking to feed your gambling addiction without all of that pesky guilt? Well then is Budge ever the app for you!
Budge is a game that turns the sense of competitiveness that friends and family members often share into an act of philanthropy. Users challenge a friend to anything they can imagine: a race, an impromptu game of trivia, a bare-knuckle boxing match (What? Some of us have really competitive friends.) — with the stipulation that the loser must donate an agreed-upon amount to a charity of the winner's choosing.
2. Give 2 Charity
Being that most of us have become attached at the hip (or hand) to our smartphones, you'd think an app that actually converts our phone usage into cold, hard cash would be a foregone conclusion by now. And thanks to the folks over at Give 2 Charity, it is.
Utilizing the location-tracking systems used by everything from Google Maps to Pokémon Go, Give 2 Charity monitors the amount of time you spend carrying or using your phone and transforms it into charitable donations. Every moment you're on the move with your phone is converted into points — 1,500 points earns $2. 3,000 points earns $5, and so forth — which can then be donated to the charity of your choice. Donating to a cause has literally never been easier.
3. Donate a Photo
The only thing more certain than the smartphone user's love of texting fire emojis to their crew is their love of taking pictures. Many of us live in a constant stream of live updates from our friends where no memory goes unsaved or unshared, and the people at Johnson & Johnson have figured out a way to turn this fascination with documentation into a charitable effort.
A photo posted by Donate A Photo (@donateaphoto) on
Simply dubbed Donate a Photo, this app (available on both Android and iOS) donates a dollar toward the cause or charity of your choosing for every photo that you donate through the app (up to one a day). Signup is as easy as connecting to the app through your Facebook or Twitter profile, and Donate a Photo will even provide you with an optional list of causes to donate to. Looks like those 4,300 pictures of your sleeping cat won't go to waste after all.
Did you read over the description of Donate a Photo and think to yourself, "That's a great idea, but what if I wanted to replace the cat photos with photos of my food?" FEEDIE. THAT'S HOW.
Though only based in New York at the moment, Feedie is a groundbreaking app that allows the frequent photographers of food — foodstagrammers — to use their love of food to help those who don't have access to adequate meals. Simply download the app on iOS, take a photo of your food at any of the participating restaurants, and an entire meal will be donated to a nonprofit organization feeding schoolchildren in South Africa through the Lunchbox Fund.
Finally, an app that makes watching your pizza go cold as your friend struggles to find the proper lighting for a photo all worth it!
5. Charity Miles
If I have learned anything from the hundreds of Fitbit commercials I have watched from my couch, the best way to motivate someone is to present them with some sort of chart or metric of their progress. Something as regularly banal as how many steps per day you take instantly becomes a video game score when a physical number is placed on it, and Charity Miles mixes this kind of competitive fitness and philanthropy into one incredible concept. Fitlanthropy, I've decided to call it.
Again, the genius is in the simplicity: Charity Miles simply combines the tracking technology of a Fitbit — or any pedometer app, really — with cold, hard cash. All you have to do is download the app and take off, and Charity Miles will donate 25 cents for each mile you run (or 10 cents for every mile you bike) to one of over 35 charity organizations it's partnering with.
There's always a way to help out a person in need.
Thanks to the globe-spanning technological capabilities at our fingertips, it's become easier than ever before. So if we can find the time each day to take a photo, go for a run, or even click on our phone, then there's nothing stopping us from making a significant difference in the world.
It'll be less dangerous than playing Pokémon Go, in any case.