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Social Media, Social Good: 7 Apps that Can Help Save the World

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Social Media, Social Good: 7 Apps that Can Help Save the World

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Social media has been an extremely effective vehicle for raising social awareness, drafting support, and, ultimately, creating social change. Facebook has jumped on this trend in an effort to combat the ebola crisis, and organizations like #HashtagLunchbag tap into the pervasive use of social media tools, like hashtags, to spread awareness and gain grassroots traction.

This past September, Mashable hosted - in part with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UN Foundation, UN Development Programme, and 92Y - the Social Good Summit. The site describes the conference as:

...a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world...the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. Our theme, #2030NOW, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” During the Social Good Summit, global citizens around the world unite to unlock the potential of technology to make the world a better place.        

The conference was held during UN Week in New York. Speakers included Michael Dell, Jimmy Carter, Natasha Bedingfield, Melinda Gates, Pharrell Williams, and Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. The summit called on people around the world to participate in the discussion via local Meetups:

Our goal for the Social Good Summit Meetups is to bring together a global community focused on social good in order to hear the voices and ideas of people around the world. We want to tackle the challenging questions, exchange information and rally behind a common hashtag, #2030NOW. Be a part of one of the biggest, most global and most powerful conversations the world has ever seen.      

Most people don't have year-round expendable income and time for philanthropy, but the winter holidays tend to create a spike in charitable work, so much so that the United States’ IRS even has a page on their site with guidelines on what you can donate and if it’s tax deductible. On average, people tend to be more willing to give as the holidays roll around, hence all the Santas you see ringing their bells on sidewalks outside of stores and the numerous charities that focus on things like gifts for children. There have been lots of studies on the psychology behind charity, and while they suggest several factors that make us want to help our fellow man, they all point to one thing: Giving makes everyone feel good.

In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, here are seven apps that help you do your part this season (without breaking the bank):


1. Instead

If you’re someone who likes coffee and also likes to make a difference, this is a great option for you. Rather than spending $3 or $5 on a cup of fancy coffee, the app encourages you to brew your own and give that money to help provide people with clean drinking water based on the idea that every morning, you’ll open the app and send some money instead of run to a coffee shop. Instead takes only 5% of the money you give and gives the rest to their charity partners. The app is available for the iPhone in the Apps store.


2. Volunteer Match

Volunteer Match’s app lets you choose from their database of over 99,914 organizations that you can donate your time to. With the app, you can browse the best charities in your area, share your experience, and research which opportunity is right for you. The app is currently available in the iOS App Store.


3. One Today

Browse from a variety of different causes and charities on this Google app and give them $1 a day to help them reach their goals. Available for both iPhone and Android.


4. I Can Go Without

Another micro-donation app that wants you to see what you could do with your money outside of your day-to-day routines, the app will ask you to consider doing things like skip a $5 pint of beer and, instead, donate the money so three people in Kenya can have clean drinking water. The app also comes with the option to create a fundraiser on your own.


5. Check in for Good

Like Four Square, but charitable. The site says:

Every time you get coffee, eat out, catch a game or visit a participating retailer, a simple check-in generates a micro-donation to a great cause.


6. Charity Miles

A great way to incorporate charity into your daily routines, Charity Miles donates based on how many miles you run, walk, or bike. Bikers earn 10¢/mile while runners earn 25¢/mile. Foundations include Habitate for Humanity, RED, Nature Conservancy, and Feeding America.


7. Donate a Photo

In our heavily visual social experience, Johnson and Johnson have come up with a way to utilize that habit for good. For each photo you donate to the app, the company donates $1 to a charity of your choosing, and your photo also serves as a way to raise awareness for your cause and inspire others to do the same.

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