App Urges You to Spend Less on Stuff, Donate More

Instead app/Screen capture

A new app aims to encourage you to find room in your budget for donating to non-profits by prompting you to reconsider your purchases and donate instead. Called Instead, it gives you easy one-button ways to give once you've decided not to spend money on something else.

“Instead of eating at the Cheesecake Factory, how about eating at Chipotle and giving the difference?” creator Micah Davis suggests. “Or, instead of going to the movies, use Redbox, and give the difference.”

The Instead platform is based on the idea that technology, especially smartphone apps, can facilitate a widespread growth in microphilanthropy. Just as tens of millions of dollars were donated by text message in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti (and the same Red Cross campaign is being used to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy), Davis believes that the Instead app can help to change giving behavior and that all those little donations can add up to something big.

When you download the app, you're asked to give a credit card number or sign in through Facebook. You then have access to a list of 100 or so charities. So, when deciding to forgo buying lunch and packing one from home instead, you can quickly donate $5 to the charity of your choice.

Instead takes a 5 percent fee from each donation, the same as Kickstarter and other fundraising sites, but they have outlined exactly what that fee goes to on their website, so users can feel good about donating.

The Instead app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

Tags: Apps | Charities | Technology