April 1, 2010

10 mobile apps for social good

GoodGuide on iTunes

GoodGuide, Find Green, Give Work make Socialbrite’s Top 10 list

By Kim Bale
Socialbrite staff

droid-vs-iphoneMobile applications are flooding the market at a dizzying rate — more than 150,000 now for the iPhone and tens of thousands for Android and Blackberry. And it’s important to keep in mind that only 18 percent of the phones in the United States are smart phones, as reported at yesterday’s Where 2.0 conference, so text-only SMS plays an important part in many of the campaigns run by nonprofits, NGOs and anyone interested in doing good.

In the past few months, though, a host of very cool smart phone apps have been released, making it easier for people and volunteers to carry their top-of-mind social causes in their pockets. And, take note, all of the iPhone apps listed here also work on the iPod Touch and the new iPad.

Here are 10 of our favorite mobile apps, from nonprofits and social change organizations, that are contributing to a sustainable economy of social good. This is by no means a definitive list, so please add your own favorites in the comments below.

Download the handout here (also at bit.ly/10mobileapps)

GoodGuide

GoodGuide: Scan products for social responsibility

1Available in the iTunes App Store, the GoodGuide iPhone app allows you to scan the barcode of a product while you’re shopping and immediately receive ratings regarding health, environment and social responsibility. How cool is that? Other mobile users can text product information to 41411 to access ratings for more than 70,000 companies and toys, foods, health and beauty products — including an API that lets any website operator create a custom product directory that pulls from its database. GoodGuide on iTunes

Find-Green

Find Green: Locate nearby green businesses

2Locate green and sustainable businesses via the Find Green app for iPhone and Android from 3rd Whale. Looking for a farmer’s market within walking distance? Find Green will note your location and search their database of more than 60,000 businesses to help you find one. Submit your favorite locations, rate existing businesses and reap the benefits of sustainability living tips in the palm of your hand. Find Green on iTunes

Be-Extra

The Extraordinaries: A way to ‘micro-volunteer’

3The Extraordinaries app for the iPhone allows anyone to spend just a few minutes of spare time completing missions for causes they’re passionate about. They even coined a term for it: micro-volunteering. On your commute to work, or waiting in line at the DMV, rate tweets from SXSW or tag photos for the Brooklyn Museum instead of racking up points in Solitaire. (Disclosure: I recently worked for The Extraordinaries as community outreach specialist.) The Extraordinaries on iTunes

Give-Work

Give Work: Crowdsourcing for good

4Created by CrowdFlower and Samasource, the Give Work iPhone app asks users to complete simple tasks that check the work done by Samasource’s refugee workforce. It provides a sort of quality assurance while increasing the quality of life for Kenyan refugee workers. To date, Give Work has been downloaded in more than 76 countries. Give Work on iTunes

CauseWorld

Causeworld: Rack up donations through shopping

5Check in at your favorite stores via your iPhone or Android and rack up Karma points to spend on causes you’re passionate about. CauseWorld lets you offset carbon and donate to Chile earthquake relief without spending a dime, all while earning badges to represent your good deeds. Corporate sponsors provide the necessary funding that you give in the form of virtual Karma points to causes and organizations that matter to you. CauseWorld on iTunes

mGive

mGive: Donate to causes via SMS

6mGive puts the power to donate in the hands of anyone with an SMS plan. For a fee, nonprofits can register with mGive and then ask supporters to text donations in increments of $5 or $10 to a designated number. The donation is charged to the user’s cell phone bill and distributed to the organization. In just three weeks, mGive processed more than $37 million for Haiti, proving the costs associated with starting a campaign may be well worth it. mGive on iTunes

frontline-sms

Frontline SMS: Help & engagement through text

7Another text messaging option, FrontlineSMS makes it easy for nonprofits and NGOs to keep in touch and engage with their community. Available to anyone with a cell phone, the service helps organizations share information with their community via text message. Uses can include sending daily notes of encouragement to disseminating calls to action to anyone with a mobile signal.

SnapImpact

SnapImpact: Connecting volunteers with local opportunities

8SnapImpact is an app for the iPhone designed to connect potential volunteers with opportunities in their area. The app searches All For Good’s database of volunteer opportunities by location, providing users with a variety of options to give back to their local community. Applications for Android and Windows Mobile are in the works. SnapImpact on iTunes

Ushahidi

Ushahidi: A platform for collective action

9This platform for crowdsourced crisis information can now be accessed via Ushahidi’s Apps for Android, Java Phones and Windows Mobile. Users can view real-time maps for crisis areas around the world and contribute crucial information regarding disaster relief. An iPhone App is still in development, and other mobile users can send SMS reports with crisis information.

Mobile-Rice

MobileRice: Donate grains of rice to hungry

10The MobileRice app for the iPhone, powered by Free Rice, tests your vocabulary skills while donating grains of rice through the World Hunger Programme. Match words with their definitions or synonyms and help diminish hunger worldwide. The app is connected to the website, which has collected 77 billion grains in 2 1/2 years — enough rice to feed millions. MobileRice on iTunes

What are some of your favorite mobile apps for social good? Continue reading

December 24, 2009

CauseWorld: Support causes on the go

Beth KanterLast month I made a prediction that we might see fundraisers with Foursquare or some other location-based mobile social network with gaming element. Looks like my observation of fundraising 2.0 trends of 2009 and  my 2010 predictions are on track. TechCrunch just wrote about a new mobile application called CauseWorld.

Here’s how it works:

CauseWorld app users earn “karma points” when they walk into stores and check in with their cell phone. No purchase is required at any store, and karma points can be redeemed nine predefined good causes. Big brands like Kraft Foods and Citi (both are on board) then turn the karmas into real dollar donations to those causes. Food for poor families, water in Sudan, trees in the Amazon, etc. are examples of the causes.

Like foursquare and gowalla, you open the application on your phone and see local businesses (instead of showing everything around you, CauseWorld only shows businesses that you can check into for karmas). Enter the store, check in, and get the karma points offered to you. Once you’ve collected enough karmas you can donate them to a variety of causes. And, of course, you get badges for various activities.

The causes that are supported are listed on CauseWorld — it’s a good mix of wildlife conservation, hunger and others. 

This idea is really cool for a couple of reasons. The user doesn’t have to donate, but they’re leveraging a corporate donation. Sort of like embedded giving that Lucy Bernholz talks about, I think. The application is fun and well designed.

It doesn’t have a social element where you can see how many karma points your friends have within the app itself, although it uses Facebook Connect and you could opt to have your good deeds streamed on your wall. It might get more motivated if it had the leaderboard design that Foursquare has. Continue reading