2 Spanish entrepreneurs are on a mission to create the “first ever free crowdfunding for positive impact initiative”, which will allow the world’s smartphone users to make a donation to a charity of their choice simply by downloading free games and apps.
Miquel Subirats and Martín Morillo are two Barcelona based entrepreneurs who describe themselves as “crazy enough to think we can change the world with apps”.
Both are serial entrepreneurs but say this is the first time they have quit their day jobs and thrown their own money at a project.
The idea behind “Solidarity App” is for users to download the app, from where they are able to browse participating games or apps; each time they download one, Solidarity App makes a donation to one of its partner charities – and the user gets to choose which one.
How does this work? Each time an app or game is downloaded by a user, Solidarity App receives a payment from the creators of that game or app for helping them acquire a new user – this typically forms a part of the gaming company’s worldwide advertising strategy.
Solidarity App then passes 90% of the payment on to the charity selected by the user, in the user’s name, and reinvests the remaining 10% back into the business.
Solidarity App’s users pay nothing, but by downloading an app or game they are helping make a contribution to social and charitable causes around the world. There are no limits to the number of apps that can be downloaded, therefore even those without a bank account can help make the world a better place – all you need is a smartphone – how very 2016.
Solidarity App’s founders say that “the new sexy is swiping right to support disaster relief / refugee crisis / environmental protection!”
To date, the start-up has partnered with charities including Refugee Open Ware (ROW), which describes itself as “a catalyst for moonshot humanitarian innovation”, attempting to “harness advanced technology co-creation and open innovation to reduce suffering, fulfil basic needs and accelerate inclusive development in fragile and conflicted areas.”
Odyssea, an offshoot of ROW, is focused on cleaning up the Greek Coast and helping local refugee communities, by clearing an estimated 1,200 tonnes of non-recyclable waste material created by refugees crossing the Mediterranean, and helping establish a co-design space in Athens for waste up-cycling and raising environmental awareness.
SOS Dolphins is a “coalition of national and international entities exposing the cruelty and defending against the suffering of dolphins and orcas in captivity”; another partner, the Hippo Roller Water Project in South Africa enables rural poor to collect up to 5 times more water by “rolling” it back to where it’s needed using specially adapted barrels, whilst Manos Unidas is “reinforcing the right to adequate food for the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet.”
These are some of the campaigns smartphone users can support by leveraging the power of the “tap-tap-swipe” – Solidarity App’s aim is to “turn all the smartphones in the world into social cause donation platforms”; Subirats and Morillo also point out that, now there are almost as many smartphones in the world as there are people, “using Solidarity App could be a game changer that links ad networks and social causes.”
The founders add that their model helps to create an instant synergy between brand and user, because the brand advertiser is donating money to a cause that matters to the user, creating a positive relationship right from the outset.
Mobile advertising is a huge market, experiencing phenomenal growth; according to research mobile ad spend will surpass $100 billion worldwide in 2016, which represents 51% of the digital market. The US and China will account for 61% of all spending, the research suggests.
Although it’s by no means the only “download an app, donate to charity” start-up in the global eco-system, Solidarity App’s tech is advanced enough, with an API that integrates to multiple international mobile advertising networks, and tracking technology to prove that each individual download is completed by a real user, to give it a fighting chance of gaining sufficient traction.
It may be that major games producers begin to introduce their own charitable donation schemes and close down the “loophole” that allows start-ups like Solidarity App to work, but for now it seems that a third party distributor which can act as a go between a games’ creators and their target audience, and especially one with a social conscience that makes donations to good causes, is an effective marketing strategy and a sector with room for serious growth.
Don’t bet against Solidarity App being at the forefront of a brave new world of socially conscious marketing. As ever with start-ups, it takes a combination of great tech, determined founders and goodwill from users to create a successful company over the medium to long term.