5 smartphone apps help you give back

Published: Thursday, May 3 2012 6:17 p.m. MDT

By helping us do everything from sleeping to organizing to wasting time better, the rise of the smartphone app has made our lives easier. Perhaps it's time to pay it forward. Check out these creative apps that help you make life easier for others.

Instead, a new app from the software gurus at OvenBits, helps you find ways to spend less on daily purchases, freeing up money to give to charity. For example, when a co-worker stops by to suggest a Starbucks break, the app encourages you to decline, then donate the $5 you would have spent with just the push of a button.

"Instead of eating at the Cheesecake Factory, how about eating at Chipotle and giving the difference?" said software designer Michah Davis when he explained the app to GOOD Magazine this week. "Or, instead of going to the movies, use Redbox and give the difference."

If you can't spare a dime, the Give Work iPhone app, a joint project between crowd-sourcing platform CrowdFlower and the nonprofit Samasource, lets you volunteer your time to help the poor in Africa. U.S. companies partner with Give Work to hire Kenyan refugees. Smartphone users to can check the quality of their work while waiting for the dentist or sitting at the airport.

"The idea is one of the best and most useful iPhone apps we've ever come across," said Mashable's Ben Parr in a review. "It combines crowd-sourcing and mobile technology to not only provide value to thousands of companies that need to execute on low-level tasks, but more importantly it helps provide income for thousands of African refugees so that they can feed their families and give their children the education they deserve."

Instead of playing Solitaire to burn time, use The Extraordinaries app to "microvolunteer." You input your interests and skills into the app, and it matches you with a service opportunity. If you're a whiz with Facebook and Twitter, for example, you can help a nonprofit organization brainstorm thought-provoking questions to ask social media followers. If you have graphic design skills, The Extraordinaries will match you with nonprofit groups that need a logo makeover.

In the process of giving to charity, some apps help you kick bad habits, too.

To encourage you to rise and shine, the Snooze app, built by LetGive, donates 25 cents to your favorite charity every time you hit the snooze button.

Download SwearBox if you want to clean up your language (or stop saying overused words like "awesome"). It monitors your tweets for bad words. For every expletive, the app sends you a bill for a minimum of $1.50, which is then donated to charity.

email: estuart@desnews.com

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