In a big world that seems to have too many problems, it can feel almost impossible to make an impact. Welcome to compassion fatigue. I like to think that everyone wants to make a positive difference in the world, but saying and doing are two different things. I don’t believe you need to be wealthy or own a charity to make a difference in the world, so I’m constantly on the lookout for how to spur change when you have little to no change to give.
As it turns out, one of the easiest ways to contribute is sitting in your pocket. There are more apps available to us than any of us know what to do with. However, hidden among the games and videos you can find apps curated to make a difference. These are a few of my favorites.
- How it works: You listen to your favorite podcasts on this app and receive Podcoin points.
- Who it benefits: You can donate your coins/points to a multitude of causes from combating world hunger to saving the rainforest. Or, you can save up points to receive small gift cards for yourself (Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc.).
- App hack: You can play a podcast with your volume muted, so you still receive points but don’t have to listen - especially great for uninteresting Bonus podcasts.
- Referral code: Shann16a
Flora or Forest: Stay Focused
- How it works: When you’re not using your phone, you can “plant” a tree for a certain period of time and bet money against yourself (minimum $5). If you use your phone in that time period, you owe the app that money. Or, you can pay a small sum (less than $10) and the app will accumulate your time planting trees. Once you reach the target (120, 60, or 24 hours), they will plant a real tree in a rural community.
- Who it benefits: Rural communities, typically in Africa. You also get an easy excuse to give your eyes a break and being away from a screen time to focus on something else!
- App hack: Plant a tree when you go to bed (max 3 hours allowed).
- How it works: Before you begin a bike ride, walk, or run, open the app and start your activity. Your activity is sponsored by various companies while the app tracks your duration, distance, and miles per hour. At the end of every term, the developers split the sponsorship pool between the charity partners based on their mileage earned and send them the appropriate “cut.”
- Who it benefits: There are over 40 organizations to choose from, mostly U.S. based, but some international (I have mine sent to the World Food Programme).
- How it works: You connect this app to one or multiple health & fitness apps such as Fitbit, Apple Health, Runkeeper, etc. Then, it periodically syncs with your other apps that track steps, sleep, activity, or whatever stats you want to count towards your points. Once you reach 10,000 points, you can redeem or donate your $10 reward. It can take a while for points to rack up, but it’s a good app that earns you points without having to actively think about it!
- Who it benefits: It can benefit you, or you can donate your reward to one of their charities listed.
I chose these apps intentionally because you only need your phone and $10 or less to make a big impact. When the world’s issues can feel overwhelming, remember that there are little ways we can make a difference that add up. So after you download these apps, share them with your friends and make sure to share this post!