Mobile Tech for Good


How could one use their mobile phone in three minutes or less to do good for a community, humanity or the environment?

  • There are 5.11 billion unique mobile users in the world today, up 100 million (2 percent) in the past year.
  • There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9 percent) versus January 2018.
  • There are 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9 percent) since this time last year.
  • 3.26 billion people use social media on mobile devices in January 2019, with growth of 297 million new users representing a year-on-year increase of more than 10 percent
  • Sources: [multiple sources]

Mobile Devices
Cause Marketing
Vic Clesceri
16 months ago

3 answers


This is a great question, especially at a time when many are questioning whether phones can be a force for good.

A couple examples come to mind where I think mobile helps people effectively and quickly:

  • Disaster response: "text to donate" technologies have been incredibly successful in fundraising for organizations like American Red Cross and International Rescue Committee in response from everything to the Haiti earthquake to Hurricane Maria to the refugee crisis
  • Personal crisis response: there are some amazing mobile interventions targeted to young people who are experiencing severe mental health crises, such as suicide. Crisis Text Line in the US and other similar applications in other countries have been successful in literally saving lives through a few minute of text exchanges with trained volunteers
  • Advocacy: Increasingly, particularly in the US, "Text2Action" technology allows people to sign petitions/make official public comments, access voting/candidate information, which can be particularly critical around Elections

Hope this helps!


Molly Malloy
16 months ago
Molly Malloy Great response. Yes, I’m feeling the same way about the paradigm that exists against mobile tech. How can we crowdsource ideas here and become catalysts for change beyond just community. How can mobile be used to solve problems holistically. - Vic 16 months ago

Vic - Molly Malloy provides some great examples. When I think about this the most immediate thing that comes to mind when I think of "Good" I go to mobile donations for nonprofits. This has been around for quite some time and has had tremendous success especially when a natural disaster occurs such as a hurricane. It's simple, quick, and costs little for the organization. The typical cost for each transaction is on average - 3.9% + $0.30. A win-win for all.

It needs to go beyond that in my humble opinion for communities (nonprofits). Some of these methods, depending on the service provider, fail to connect donors to the organizations. That is where the real value, mobile for good, comes in beyond a single event. Donor information is key. Who has access to the donor information? The funds are typically billed directly to your mobile statement. It's doubtful that mobile carriers will share this data. Content (donor information) is king. This helps develop and build ongoing relationships to donors/organization where help goes beyond a single need thus allowing donors to offer more than money. We cannot under estimate the need for volunteers, etc.

Florie Brizel wrote the following 2010 but in my mind it still applies today:

"Mobile phones allow people to talk to the world, but they can do so much more. We must teach people how to really maximize the global linkage available to them through their mobile devices, especially if we expect them to be used for any kind of social good.  

Of course, technology and humanity are not necessarily compatible. One is about an anonymous push forward into the unknown... to explore it, to develop and exploit it, which is important.  

The other is about paying undivided attention to the individual and the world in front of you, developing relationships, and increasing consciousness.  

Both are necessary. The challenge is figuring out how to use technology to enhance humanity, not degrade it.

The outside world can witness violence as it’s happening, or observe political suppression, or human oppression, and because of mobile phones, there’s a chance of developing a collective conscience. Through world outcry, we can impact positively for the eradication of such horrors.

How do we bridge the gap? Maybe this is something for another discussion.

Scott Cook
16 months ago
Scott Cook Great response! I was not aware of the financial algorithm for mobile donations. That's good information to know. I agree with your assessment of cuurent tech and the needs of a more robust and deliberate donor platform. And you are correct, it's more than just $s! Volunteers, board members, influencers, PR, etc. are all key. Seems like there is a business case here for an app. - Vic 16 months ago
Apps are available for a number of these things. Obviously very few organizations have the ability or funds to develop apps for their sole purpose to provide them all of the benefits they need. Multi-tenant apps are the best way to go that offer a full set of features that allow organizations to maintain the content and donors both giving them full control. - Scott 16 months ago

Switch it off and talk to people.

David Cottrell
16 months ago

Have some input?