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The most common media image of a philanthropist usually entails a wealthy individual making huge impacts through their donations. However, in modern times, technology has made philanthropy a group effort, something that anybody can and should participate in. Often, the biggest impact comes not from the actions of an altruistic individual, but a group of people committed to charity all working toward a common cause. The worst mistake we as a society can make is thinking that we can’t make a difference.

If you want to help out but aren’t sure how, there are a number of charitable mobile applications that are minimally invasive but can still contribute greatly to certain causes. Micro-donations may not be impressive on their own, but the concept of crowdsourcing has had the potential to accomplish some truly amazing things (just look at Kickstarter). I’ve compiled a short list of notable apps that can help you integrate charity into your daily life.


Instead is an app that epitomizes the notion of micro-donations and the effects they can have. This application provides a very realistic analysis of what even a minor economic decision can do for someone else.

For instance, the app may note that if you forgo your morning coffee, and choose to instead contribute that money to South Sudanese water efforts, you could be providing a child with clean water for an entire year. The app will also provide you with “missions” for you or your company to try to complete, with micro-donations along the way.

Additionally, all donations are tax deductible.

Charity Miles

Charity Miles is making a serious impression these days, capitalizing on the American obsession with counting steps. By donating twenty-five cents for every mile a runner or walker covers, it is making incredible contributions to the philanthropy sector as a whole. All you need to do is turn it on in the background of your phone and the app does the rest.

The idea behind the app is that corporate sponsors, such as Humira and Johnson & Johnson, will pay charities for every mile that you move. Despite the relatively low contribution per mile, the app’s popularity has led to a spike in donations. It’s a fitness app in many ways, but one that provides a benefit besides the usual practice of counting calories.

It’s exciting to consider the future benefits of Charity Miles, particularly in conjunction with the growing number of alternate reality apps on the market these days.

One Today

One Today, a Google-created project, is another exceptional application that gives context to philanthropic efforts. Similar to Instead, One Today makes users aware of both existing causes and what can be done to assist. Users can explore charities and causes, reading about the economics of each and the impact that a dollar donation can make. If a user decides that they like a charity, they can donate a dollar to it, hence the name of “one today.” It’s a little like charitable speed dating, really.

What really makes One Today a standout example of charity is that it involves the user’s social network as well. Your friends who are also connected to your profile on the application witness your donation, and are offered the chance to either match it or donate more. Considering the standard contribution is only a dollar, the public visibility is unlikely to inspire any feelings of guilt; it’s more of a gentle push toward giving. In this scenario, nonprofits receive exposure, beneficiaries receive what they need, and marketing efforts are improved with every donation.