With the holidays upon us, some smartphone apps can let you help someone in need with just a few taps of your finger.
ShareTheMeal is my favorite charity donation app. When surrounded by delivery apps and cheap fast food, one can easily forget that many people around the world can’t easily afford their next meal. Using ShareTheMeal, you can quickly donate money to the United Nations World Food Program and help someone gain access to food.
The app reminds you that it costs only half a dollar to feed a child for a whole day, and you can donate that with a single tap once you have entered your payment information. You can also donate enough to feed a child for a week or more, or set up a regular monthly payment. There is even a social angle: You can connect with other users or link the app to Facebook and try to persuade your friends there to take part.
The app reports the number of meals shared (nearly nine million so far), and it links you to news about places where the United Nations’ help is desperately needed. All of this is achieved with clear language, an easy-to-use interface and little fuss: The idea is that when you feel a charitable urge, you can turn to this app and donate in seconds. ShareTheMeal is free for iOS and Android.
The Donate a Photo app also makes it easy to give to charity. But in this case, the funds come from a sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, not out of your pocket, which means you can be charitable even if you don’t have money to spare.
You simply fire up the app and choose a charity from a list of trusted causes, then take a photo, or choose one from your phone’s archive, and upload it. The app shares your image with other users, and you can share it as you would on Instagram or other social networks. Once you’ve done this, Johnson & Johnson donates $1 to the charity you chose. The current options include Operation Smile, which helps children around the world who have facial deformities like cleft palates.
You can donate one photo a day, every day, and the app lets you see which causes have achieved their funding goals. The app is free for both iOS and Android.
The Tinbox app falls somewhere between ShareTheMeal and Donate a Photo. Like ShareTheMeal, it lets you donate money with just a few taps on your phone, but as with Donate a Photo, the funds don’t come from your bank account. To donate via Tinbox, you simply tap to team up with one of the app’s sponsors, which involves reading about the company and its goals, and then the company donates $1 to a cause of your choosing.
What sets Tinbox apart is that you don’t simply donate to a large-scale charitable body, without a clear idea of where your money is going. Instead, Tinbox shows you that you are contributing to a particular project of the charity, and it will keep you updated on the project’s progress over time.
The app is promoted as needing just 20 seconds of your time daily, which means donating via Tinbox takes about as much effort as requesting an Uber ride. Tinbox is free for iOS and Android.
Charity Miles is a different type of charity app. This one makes you work out for your charitable contribution, no bank account required. The idea is to combine getting fit with donating to charity, and as with Donate a Photo, the money comes from a sponsor company.
To get that corporate donor to contribute the funds, you have to put in the miles, by walking, running or bicycling. For every mile the app detects you’ve gone, using your phone’s motion sensors, a sponsor will donate to the charity you’ve chosen to support.
The app’s curated list of causes includes well-known names like Project Red and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as lesser-known charities. The app has a clear, modern and attractive interface, and you may even find that the charitable aspect motivates you to stay fit. Charity Miles is free for iOS and Android.
Needed combines shopping lists and special offers. Like other to-do list apps, Needed can help you keep track of which products you need to buy when you go to the store, but it does so with a location-based awareness of the special offers available at that moment in nearby shops. It’s a free download for iOS and Android.
Emusi turns plain instant messages into something more interesting. Instead of merely wishing someone a happy anniversary or offering congratulations on a new job in words, the app is full of quick musical celebrations you can send instead. There’s a free edition for iOS and Android with a limited number of celebrations to choose from. The full app costs just $1.
(The New York Times)