Inflation has a lot of folks cutting out luxuries and pinching more pennies. It's always hard to cut out the things you enjoy, but it hurts a little extra when budgeting means making less charitable donations.
It feels great to be in a place where you can financially support causes you're passionate about -- and the tax benefits ain't bad, either. Fortunately, the age of technology has made getting involved in a good cause easier than ever.
Before choosing which apps can help you help others most effectively, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First of all, these methods of giving are convenient, easy, and rewarding -- but they aren't tax deductible. Secondly, it's always paramount to any charity actions to know which organizations are receiving money and what they're doing with it. Do your research like you would with any other place you'd decide to spend money.
Ad-Based Apps & Sites
There are two main ways that apps and websites can turn your time and energy into charitable donations. The first usually introduces you to advertisements while you play a game or surf the web. Just like many for-profit websites use ad revenue to make money, these services donate that revenue to charity.
- Tab for a Cause is one of the easiest ways to donate to charity. Usually when you open a new browser tab, you're automatically directed to your search engine of choice. Tab for a Cause reroutes that page to its own page, where you'll see the time, a background image, a search bar, and a sidebar with ads. The ad revenue is spent on various charities that support lots of causes, from reproductive health to bail funds to support for the Ukraine. Each time you use the page, you earn a heart. At any time, you can donate your hearts to a specific partnered charity, a system that helps Tab determine how to divide up the funds acquired.
- Free Rice lets you tackle food insecurity around the world by playing simple trivia games. Brush up on any number of subjects from world geography to music reading. For every answer you get right, you donate a metaphorical 10 grains of rice to feed people in need. The service is run by the UN’s World Food Program, so its impact is felt worldwide. Free Rice isn't available on an app, but it's very mobile-friendly, so you can just play on your phone's internet browser.
Other apps focus on acts of service. Some will track your mileage and arrange donations based on your fitness habits, others connect you with people or groups who can use your skills and services.
- WoofTrax is a great app for people who have (and love) dogs. Just connect the app to your phone's health or step-tracking service, then open the app the next time you take your pooch for a stroll. You can set a mileage goal or you can just rack up miles on your usual daily walk. WoofTrax works with sponsors to get money to animal shelters based on your miles. The app will automatically set your donations to go to your closest local animal shelter, but you can give to another preferred shelter, too.
- Be My Eyes connects people who are visually impaired to volunteers willing to help with quick visual tasks. The app is incredibly user-friendly, and comes with a very helpful demo for how you might be asked to help a blind person. You just download the app and wait for someone to need your assistance! If you're too busy to answer a call, there's no pressure -- someone else will be able to help. There are more than five million volunteers for less than 500,000 blind users.
- Refuge Restrooms is a publicly-sourced website that helps users find places with gender-neutral bathrooms. If you're a traveler or you go out a lot, you may notice when businesses have trans-inclusive facilities for people to use. You can help ensure the peace of mind of gender-nonconforming people traveling in your area by just making observations and adding a quick geo-tag.
- iNaturalist is a great resource for nature lovers. Take pictures of plants and wildlife that live in your neighborhood. Use the site's species library to identify the creatures living alongside you and you'll be providing scientific data for wildlife researchers to use! If you're tired of spending time on your phone doom-scrolling, consider trying iNaturalist and start bloom-scrolling instead.
- Charity Miles is another mileage-based app that translates your steps into money for charities. The app allows employers to get involved by donating based on employee mileage, or you can be sponsored by businesses through the app or even through your friends. The app also connects with your phone's health tracker, and can even be used with your Apple (AAPL) watch. The downside? The site only supports a limited number of charities, including Autism Speaks, an organization that has drawn a lot of criticism from the Autism community. Be sure to double-check your organization's principals and messaging before you lace up your running shoes.