New Microphilanthropy App: INSTEAD

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Instead app

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There’s a new app in town and it’s got one noble goal: To help you find room in your budget to donate to non-profits. How does this app accomplish such a daunting task? It prompts the user to reconsider their purchases and urges them to donate.

The app, called Instead, makes it easy to donate money once you’ve opted against making a purchase. “Instead of eating at the Cheesecake Factory, how about eating at Chipotle and giving the difference?” says creator Micah Davis. “Or, instead of going to the movies, use Redbox, and give the difference.”

Created on the foundation of microphilanthropy and technology, Davis believes the app can play a pivotal role in helping change behavior. He points out how tens of millions of dollars were raised for the earthquake in Haiti via text messages, and that a similar result could be created with this app. writes:

His app facilitates your habit shift and drives dollars to charity in the process. When you download it, you enter your credit card info or sign in through Facebook to choose from a list of 100 or so charities. The default donation is $5, but you can pick more or less. The idea is to make one-button giving fun and easy, so when your coworker pops by your desk to say “time for a Starbucks break?” you can pass, then punch in a $5 donation to the Acumen Fund or the Cross Timbers Community Church of Argyle, TX.

Microdonations through phones are shaking up the fundraising world. But so far, they’re mostly for disasters. After the earthquake in Haiti, the Red Cross and other groups received $43 million in text message donations, mostly in increments of $5 or $10 dollars. Of those donors, 80 percent didn’t give in any other way. We don’t have the data yet to know if they would have given at all or way more online or over the phone, or if a cell phone and easy donating options created a whole new source of philanthropy, but we do know that Millennials respond better to requests to donate over the phone than older, typically more generous age groups.

So how exactly does this app work? Upon downloading the app, the user is asked to provide a credit card number or to sign in through Facebook. They’re provided with a list of a hundred charities. When you decide to reduce your spending (say, opt for packing your own lunch instead of eating out), you can efficiently and easily donate $5 to the charity of your choice.

Instead will take a 5 percent fee from each donation. Note that this 5 percent fee is consistent with the fee seen on fundraising sites such as Kickstarter. What’s more, for the sake of transparency, Instead has listen on their website where the 5 percent fee goes.

The Instead app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

  • Susmita Baral

    Susmita is a writer and editor in the Greater New York City area. In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.

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