While the idea of social entrepreneurship isn’t new, it has taken a more concrete definition only recently. Twenty years ago, The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur by Charles Leadbeater was published, commenting on how a ragtag group of misfits and dreamers were mobilizing business resources and tactics for helping deprived communities or even lost causes.
The book set fire to the imagination of many entrepreneurs who wanted to pursue a higher calling. More motivated by tangible social change than inflating profit margins and satisfying shareholders, the social entrepreneurship movement has finally come of age and is an established business practice today.
As information technology has become more ubiquitous with business, its effect on social entrepreneurs was all but inevitable. The democratization of technology is empowering more people with information and creating value like never before. The mobile revolution has only taken this idea even further.
So, while being part of massive social change until recently could only be considered by people with deep pockets and big ideas, today everyone can contribute to something they care about. As long as you have a smartphone -- and who doesn’t -- you can now contribute to whatever issue you care about and have fun while you’re at it. Here are nine mobile applications that can help do just that.
1. Atlas Run.
Called the running app that gives back, Atlas Run is an interesting take on this specific app genre. Unlike most running apps, where the user sets a goal and then simply achieves it, Atlas Run gives you a chance to run for something you care about.
Companies that wish to support a nonprofit set up a challenge in the app, offering to donate an amount of money to a charity or nonprofit should it be completed within a defined amount of time (e.g. 3 months). For every mile the users run, bike or hike, a portion of the set amount is unlocked. When a challenge is completed, the amount is awarded to the organization.
Atlas Run is all about creating a community of like-minded people who want to sweat for a good cause and help to create awareness around social issues. Runners know how hard it can be to keep themselves motivated at times. However, doing it for a cause -- particularly one that you care about -- will give you all the more reason to complete that extra mile! Feel free to challenge your friends while you’re at it.
2. Micro Hero.
Online surveys are one of the quicker methods of making a quick buck online. Simply answering a few questions to get paid doesn’t get any simpler. However, once the sparkle of making money online dies off, those surveys really have a way of become boring and pointless, especially given the pay-off.
Micro Hero offers people a chance to contribute while answering such surveys. Simply download the app, choose a cause that you will like to help, and start answering questions to earn real money for it.
Much like Atlas Run, companies can set up surveys in the app and decide how much money they want to be awarded per survey and question. Unlike other online surveys, where users are paid, Micro Hero awards the earned money to a nonprofit the company and user want to support.
Can’t go for a day without taking a selfie? Fotition let’s you help out a charity by simply uploading photos. Social media really is one of the best tools available to spread awareness about any issue, and Fotition has found a great way to utilize it.
Campaigns can be set up by both charities and brands. Companies can use Fotition to donate money to a charity. Every time a user uploads a photo using their filter, the company donates a fixed amount to their chosen charity. For instance, Marvel Studios donated $717,230 to provide learning material for children in Nepal, Tahiti and the U.S. through their Hero Acts campaign.
Likewise, nonprofits and charities can use Fotition to create awareness about what they are doing, and give their corporate partners a better way to reach an audience. Finally, people can have a lot of fun while supporting issues they are passionate about.
4. We Day App.
You know what are the two hardest parts about doing something big? It’s getting started and sticking to it. How many of us wish that we could contribute to something big, making our lives more meaningful? We365 helps us do just that, in a fun way.
It works like this. A company or charity creates a challenge on the app. Every time a user completes the challenge, funds are donated to the charity. Anyone can create a challenge on the app. We.org, the company behind the app, has partnered with many brands, educational and charitable organizations that are committed to social change.
The creators of the app believe that every small action makes a difference and give people a way to take one positive action every day. You can connect with like-minded people who are pursuing the same challenges you are and spread the word, all while creating a real, tangible impact.
One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. After all, why discard when you could donate? But all too often, we have things to give away and no takers. The good people at Forward decided to do something about it and have come up with a simple app that allows people to turn their unused item into donations.
Download the app, take a photo of the item you wish to give away and what it’s worth, along with what charity/nonprofit you wish to support. The item is made available on the app within your locality. People who are interested in the item can bid on it, declaring how much they intend to donate. Monies from the winning bid are immediately transferred to the charity/nonprofit you have chosen.
We all love to dare our friends to do something we know there’s a good chance they can’t. But, what if you could take a regular everyday challenges to the next level by using them to power change? That was the idea that led to Budge, a microdonations app that turns lively, everyday activities and games into a powerful tool for social change.
Once you get the app, set up a challenge and invite a friend to compete in it. The winner gets to brag, the loser has to donate a fixed amount to any organization that you want. Everybody walks away happy.
Typically, the donations are in the $1-$5 range. The makers of the app want to drive home the point that small contributions every now and then can have a massive effect, too. Budge has been received very well and has users in U.S. and Australia budging and donating. The app is available for iOS devices.
As the name suggests, this app helps feed the less fortunate, all while helping you spread the message and getting more people involved. The app’s unique "buy one gift one" model leverages partnerships with restaurants to provide meal for the less fortunate.
With GiftaMeal, every time a user walks in the door of a partner restaurant and takes a picture of a food item they like with the app, a meal is donated to someone within the user’s locality. Meals are donated through their network of food banks including Operation Food Search in St. Louis, Lakeview Pantry in Chicago and Forgotten Harvest in Detroit.
Pay-to-watch ads have been around for a while -- where users can earn some cash watching corporate sponsored videos. Much like paid surveys though, there is never a lot of money to be made, nor any satisfaction to be had.
The guys behind Givvr decided to take this idea further by letting users donate their earnings from watching corporate sponsored videos to a charity of their choice. Much like Micro Hero, where you have to answer questions to help your favorite charity, Givvr let’s you do the same by watching corporate sponsored videos. Your earnings are forwarded to a charity of your choice.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Many of us wish to contribute to charities and nonprofits only to gasp back to reality after taking a look at our upcoming expenses. Instead helps you get around this nagging issue by actively making suggestions on how to save more money via smarter day-to-day choices.
The makers of the app, Ovenbits, say they believe that every little bit counts. Instead is essentially a microdonations portal that lets you donate to a charity of your choice. So, when you’re at Starbucks the app may suggest that you forgo your coffee, and donate to, say, the WWF.
The app will only make suggestions within a dollar range that you have to decide when you sign up. It also keeps track of all your donations, which serves as a good reminder of how much charity you have done.
All of these apps essentially gamify philanthropy and utilize microdonations to help out a charity or nonprofit. Almost anyone with a mobile device can join in and start helping out their preferred organizations. Even making a few dollars worth of contributions every now and then can have a phenomenal impact.