Google’s new One Today app brings social charity to the crowd

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Crowdfunding charities has never been this fun. By using transparency and social elements, Google’s new One Today app tries to create a novel way to stimulate the charitable urges of its Android users.

The app was launched this week with the idea of people donating US$1 each at the same time keeping track of how and where the donations are being spent. This transparency feature is one of the advantages the app tries to bring compared to other donor sites or organizations. Another element which gives this app personality is the fact that it tries to incorporate social into its platform.

Recently we’ve seen a lot of new ventures trying to fuse the popularity that comes with social media with an outside element. The Wall Street slash Silicon Valley Robinhood app was released this week and tries to use the attractiveness of social platforms to lure investors. More subtly so, travel and review sites like Tripadvisor tries to combine the contacts you have on Facebook with your travels. Other initiatives trying to create these ‘hybrid platforms’ are encouraged by a popular user base it gives, but also by the lucrative potential offered. Combining the ‘viral’ and ‘crowd’ features of social networks with the profitability of a different, ‘outside’ industry.

The exception though comes with this new charity app. The platform combines charity with social but not with motivation of making profit. What makes this social is the fact that users or friends can match each other’s donations in order to “amplify their donations.” According to TechCrunch users of the app donate money straight out of your Google Wallet when they press “give.” All NGOs have been screened by Google and new organizations can apply via registration on the website. Users are also encouraged to “learn about a new cause everyday” as updates from different organizations around the world will be shown on the app.

In an attempt to enhance its soft power on a global stage Google started going non-profit last year in a grand scale. Since the launch of Google’s US$23-million donation to Global Impact Awards, the relatively new non-profit arm of search and tech giant has kick started technologies in a number of different wildlife, eco-friendly and humanitarian initiatives. Most interesting was the donation of new and advanced technologies in an effort against poaching. Google ended up donating US$5-million including drones and state-of-the-art tech to WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in an effort to battle the poaching of tigers, elephants and of course rhinos.

Other examples include the funding of charity NPOs, Givedirectly where people can donate to poor households in Kenya, and DonorsChoose.org which matches school projects with charitable donors.

At present the app is only in Beta.

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