Last week’s earthquakes in Haiti brought mobile donations into the news like never before. We’ve talked about text donations here before, and in the wake of the most recent natural disaster, relief organizations were quick to set up text numbers people could use to send small, instant donations to help those hit hard by tragic events. All four wireless carriers eventually pledged not to charge anyone for these charity texts, even if they weren’t subscribed to a text messaging plan. At last count, more than $4 million had been donated for Haitian earthquake relief via texts alone. It’s great to know so many people can donate so easily when tragedy strikes, but what about every other day? There are many other worthy causes that need support—poor and hungry people, abused children and animals, the environment. Thanks to some forward-thinking developers, you can use your cell phone anytime to support causes important to you.
This app allows you to choose from nine different causes to support, and they’re planning on adding more. Rather than depending on users to make donations themselves, the app’s developers were able to secure corporate sponsorship from Citi and Kraft, a brilliant move on both their parts. People can use the app to check in at stores while they’re out, and each check-in earns them karmas. Charity donations cost a certain number of karmas—five karmas to prevent child abuse, 14 to provide a meal, 100 to feed a chimp. And it’s not empty giving, either. Charity organizations like Feeding America and the Jane Goodall Institute have joined with the makers of Cause World to give people the opportunity to donate quickly and easily via the app. Once a user spends karmas to donate to a cause, the chosen charity receives a cash donation. Users also earn titles and badges as they check in to more places more often. Cause Word is available in the Apple App Store and Android Market.
The iPet Finder app will help you find a pet at a shelter near you. Unfortunately, many dogs and cats bought from breeders and pet stores end up being surrendered, abandoned, or seized by authorities as a result of abuse by their owners. Other animals are seized from unscrupulous breeders who keep animals in terrible conditions to make a profit. Many of these dogs, cats, and other animals end up in shelters. Millions are euthanized every year. Before buying a pet from a pet store or backyard breeder, consider adopting a pet from a shelter. iPet Finder allows you to search by breed or location. The location feature is helpful, but since many shelter pets are mutts, searching by breed may not always be the best option. It would also be ideal if a portion of the cost of the app (it’s $.99) went to an animal advocacy organization, but the fact that it facilitates and promotes awareness of pet adoption outweighs any potentially negative facets of the app. It’s available in Apple’s App Store.
Want to support a cause but you’re not sure which one? Let the Charity Finder app help you. First, it helps by showing you a featured charity when you open the app. A gentle shake of the device (it’s only available for the iPhone or iPod Touch right now), will bring up a different featured charity. There’s also a search function, or you can scroll through charities via a simple list, or a slideshow which displays thumbnails of the charities’ logos. I think the app’s developers could encourage more downloads if their screenshots in the app store showed an organization being featured other than the Michigan Democratic Party. Really? That’s a charity? Even so, I would think they’d want to promote their app by showing something a little more charity-like such as the Red Cross or the Humane Society rather than a state branch of a political party. Anyway, with over 1,800 charities listed within the app, you should be able to find an organization the works for a cause close to your heart. It’s available through iTunes.
It’s almost time for spring cleaning, and for many people, that means cleaning out closets and getting rid of old clothes that aren’t worn anymore. A lot of people move in the spring, too, and find themselves wanting to pare down their belongings so there’s less to move. The first thought for many is Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Those places provide receipts for your donations, but what if you leave things at a drop-off location and can’t get a receipt? Or maybe while out shopping one day, you donate money to a group asking for help outside the store. How do you keep track of those donations come tax time? This is where the iDonatedIt app comes in. Even if you drop off a bag of clothes at Goodwill and get a receipt, they only acknowledge that you donated items. They are not permitted to assign any value to what you donate. By the time April rolls around, you may have forgotten exactly what was in that bag and how much it was worth. When you make the donation, open up the iDonatedIt app and make a note of what you donated, to what organization, and how much it was worth. You can even take a photo of what you’re donating and store it within the app, attached to the entry you make. Then you can e-mail the entry either to yourself, or to your accountant. The app was created by a team of certified public accountants who, no doubt, got tired of their clients not keeping good records. It’s available in iTunes. For the record, a search of BlackBerry App World turned up 15 charity apps—all for The Sierra Club, while a search of Android Market showed none. It’s Cause World’s own Web site that says it’s available there. Either the other app stores aren’t quite on the ball with charity giving yet, their search functions are lacking, or I missed some. If you know of a good charity app in BlackBerry App World, Android Market, or even in Apple’s App Store that’s not mentioned here, feel free to share it in the comments.