There’s an app for just about anything these days. And whereas sometimes it feels like many of them lack any real reason for being — like these, um, “wonders” of technology — there are several that serve a very legitimate purpose, which is to drive social change.
And just as technology has become personalized and accessorized, the ways in which you can donate your time or money is equally as diverse and seemingly tailored just to you. Here are a few choice apps to put on your radar, whatever the type of mission-driven person you are.
FOR THE SEE-AND-BE-SEEN CROWD
GLOBAL CITIZEN: Probably best known for the insanely packed festival it puts on in New York’s Central Park each year, Global Citizen rewards users for taking action on such issues as global hunger, poverty and climate change with free concert tickets.
Past performers at Central Park’s Great Lawn have included big names like Beyoncé, The Killers and Stevie Wonder. Coldplay’s Chris Martin, the festival’s curator, reportedly has his sights set on Johannesburg for another musical celebration later this year to honor Nelson Mandela, who would’ve turned 100 years old in 2018.
By simply tweeting a message of action or signing a petition, users earn points and are then entered into a lottery to win tickets to Global Citizen’s network of worldwide festivals and concerts.
WE DAY: The WE movement began life as a Canadian nonprofit and eventually grew to international status. Through after-school programs designed by WE, students are encouraged to take measurable actions on issues ranging from cyberbullying within their community to improving access to clean water in developing countries.
After a year, students who participate in the program are invited to attend a We Day festival, where they might catch appearances by bold-faced names like Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez and Andre De Grasse.
But for students who don’t have a WE Schools program, the WE Day app allows them to earn festival admission through volunteer work. So far, the organization has galvanized over 1 million youth to volunteer more than 27.6 million hours.
FOR THE GYM RATS
CHARITY MILES: Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Humana, Charity Miles tracks how many miles you walk, bike or run, and then donate to charities of your choice.
Bikers receive 10 cents per mile to donate, while joggers and runners get 25 cents per mile. There are dozens of charities to choose from, including The Wounded Warrior Project, Stand Up to Cancer and the Alzheimer’s Association.
While the amount you can raise for any one training session is small — completing an Ironman triathlon would only donate a bit over $15, for example — the more you exercise, the bigger your impact.
MAXIMUSLIFE: Thrive on a little friendly competition? MaximusLife allows you to enter fitness challenges and compete against friends, all in the name of raising dough for the causes you most care about.
The platform pairs with your wearable devices to track your exercises, along with your sleeping habits, and rewards you points that corporate partners will accumulate and donate on your behalf. Participants can take on daily challenges to increase their points as well as join a team to up their rewards.
FOR THE INSTA-OBSESSED
EATWITH: Sampling food from different cultures is a sure-fire way to expand your knowledge of the world and better your relationships with people who are different from you. (It also makes for envy-inducing vacation posts.) In fact, culinary diplomacy has even warranted its own field of study at the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.
The Eatwith app allows you to search dinner parties, food tours and cooking classes by location and matches you with local hosts who will serve up one-of-a-kind meals (and experiences) right in their home. The result is an authentic cultural adventure that just can’t be replicated in a restaurant.
FOR THE CONSCIENTIOUS CONSUMERS
FORWARD: Spring has officially sprung, which means that for many people, clearing out closets, garages and dresser drawers tops their to-do list. But instead of relegating household items and clothes to the curb, adding to the growing 12.8 million tons of textiles dumped into landfills each year, Forward lets you offload goods and do good in the process.
How it works: Simply upload a pic of the thing you no longer want and choose a charity. If someone decides to take it, they’ll “buy” it via donating to the charity of your choice. And if that’s not a win-win, we’ll just go back to sticking our smartphones in our mouths.