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PocketPhilanthropist encourages charitable donations via mobile app

July 14, 2010

PocketPhilanthropist initially chose to feature 3MAlliance and One Mission International

PocketPhilanthropist initially chose to feature 3MAlliance and One Mission International

PocketPhilanthropist is an application for iPhone and iPod touch designed to raise funds for a different charity each week.

The application, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes, lets users make charitable donations, starting at $1, with the touch of a finger. Each week, PocketPhilanthropist features a different charity and distributes application-generated donations back to that charity.

“We are working to partner with a large nonprofit organization based in Seattle with a very large reach, and will benefit from their strong following,” said Shaun Hong, cofounder and director of PocketPhilanthropist, Berkeley, CA. “The app is really for all ages, although of course you need to be old enough to have a credit card or debit card.

“While it’s for all ages, we believe philanthropy is very much a part of the current 18-30-year-old lifestyle, with so many celebrities and large organizations encouraging it,” he said. “Also, the Internet has made the world rather flat, meaning you can see the other side of the world and what’s happening there.

“Young people are in tune with what’s happening, then they want to help, and they just need the right medium to do so.”

PocketPhilanthropist Inc. is a grassroots, nonprofit organization, pending federal tax-exempt 501c3 status, dedicated to raising charitable donations and awareness surrounding other nonprofit organizations.

The company’s goal is to enable these organizations to reach new, younger demographics via modern technologies.

Mobile giving on the rise
Mr. Hong and Nathan Moyer cofounded PocketPhilanthropist after witnessing more than $3 million raised in one day for the Haiti crisis via SMS donations.

Raising funds is a challenge for most charities, the organization’s vision is to simplify the process for them and inspire people to take action using their handsets.

Being one of the only downloadable applications with a “Donate” button, PocketPhilanthropist hopes to raise $1 million in its first year.

The initial charities to be featured include 3MAlliance, an effort to save the rain forest in Ecuador, and One Mission International, an effort to fulfill the needs of Ethiopia’s orphaned children.

The featured organization changes on a weekly basis, but PocketPhilanthropist is letting its very first featured charity, 3M Alliance, run for two weeks.

While the application loads, the loading screen displays a symbolic image and an inspiring quote related to philanthropy.

The main screen takes a journalistic approach, showing a photo related to feature story. The stories are kept short so users can read quickly and make donations quickly.

On the main screen is the Donate Button, a Last Week’s Featured Charity button that takes users to last week’s main screen, the MyPocket button, Share button, About us button and Web button that takes users to PocketPhilanthropist’s Web site.

The Share Screen lets users access their contacts and quickly send up to five emails at a time with info on the organization.

MyPocket Screen lists users’ donation history and lets them receive a copy of it, and also has a profile update button where they can change the credit card on file or update user information.

Throughout the months of July and August, PocketPhilanthropist is competing in the Pepsi Refresh competition in hopes of winning funds that will be used to support the nonprofit.

“We don’t really have marketing dollars yet so the marketing is strictly viral,” Mr. Hong said. “We are hoping philanthropic-minded people get our name out there.

“We hope to secure grants for marketing in the near-future, but right now it really is word of mouth and viral,” he said.

Final take
Dan Butcher, Mobile Commerce Daily

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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