Caring app lets donors share good deeds

Megan Cloherty,

WASHINGTON – A new app is providing a platform for charitable giving – with an interesting twist.

The app, called “Instead,” suggests users live below their means and donate money they would have spent on something else. The idea being: “Instead” of buying a latte or eating lunch at a restaurant, skip the purchase and donate to a charity.

The app is picking up users, thanks to an article in, and from curiosity on Twitter (#instead).

Users seem to like the idea of being able to choose where their money goes, and to easily share what they are sacrificing to give.

“We want to encourage people to live within or below their means,” Micah Davis, a software designer at OvenBits studio in Dallas, tells

“We get more requests to help than we can handle … so we said, ‘Let’s create a whole platform that can be used to help nonprofits.'”

When they download the app, donors enter credit card information and choose from a list of 100 nonprofits.

The site also offers the option of small giving. Visitors to Instead’s website are prompted to donate $3 as a starting point. That way, what each user donates can be equivalent to the value of what they gave up, even if it was only a soda or a taco.

Instead is transparent about where the money from each donation goes, and states upfront that 5 percent of each donation is held for company costs.

Microdonations through phones have changed the fundraising world in recent years. Many donated through their phones for the first time to help Hurricane Katrina victims, earthquake victims in Haiti or tsunami victims in Japan.

In Haiti, for example, the Red Cross and other groups received $43 million in text message donations, mostly in increments of $5 or $10 dollars.

In the Washington area, Instead lists these nonprofits: The American Red Cross, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Ashoka, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Humane Society, NPR and World Wildlife Fund.

Instead is not the only app trying to encourage giving via cell phone. The Mutual rewards users who give small monthly donations with discounts to shops and restaurants. The One Percent Foundation asks users to donate 1 percent of their income, and Philanthroper uses a daily deal set-up, swapping daily sales for daily opportunities to donate $1 to a new charity each day.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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