Our smartphones enable us to do pretty much anything, but all too often these acts are focused on ourselves. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could launch an app and make a positive impact on the world?
Fortunately, there are apps that allow you to do just that. From giving up a minute of your time to turning over some unwanted food, here are seven apps for iOS and Android that will let you help someone in need.
1. Be My Eyes
The idea behind Be My Eyes is so simple, yet it can make a huge difference to daily life for those who are blind or vision impaired. Through the use of video calls, Be My Eyes connects those who need help with those who have time to spare.
As a volunteer you must first register, inform the service of which languages you can speak, and then allow notifications and microphone access. When someone needs help—to identify a can of food, read a sign, or find a missing object around the house—you’ll see a notification appear on your device.
These calls will take a few minutes of your time, but to those who rely on the service they are invaluable. If you think you can spare a few minutes here and there, download By My Eyes for iOS or Android now.
OLIO is a sharing app for food and non-food items. Sign up, and post your wares. Then (usually within the hour) someone will request the items and turn up to collect. There’s no requirement to meet people at your house if you don’t want to. You can arrange a public meeting or drop off the item yourself.
The app uses your location to match you with others in the immediate area. You can choose to widen the search if you wish, but the idea is to keep it local. OLIO wants you to reuse, recycle, and form new ties within the community. It’s also possible to request items through OLIO.
You’ll find a (sometimes bizarre) array of items available for collection. These include everything from unopened packets of ramen to garden furniture, lawnmower motors, and compost. Download it, set up notifications, and wait for the offers to roll in!
Wakie is a bit of an oddball. It’s a chat app, for direct voice communication, where anyone can create a topic and connect with a real person. The idea is to request advice, practice speaking a language, or simply connect with someone through a phone call.
As a result, you’ll see a lot of requests to practice speaking English, bored people wanting a chat, and the usual static you’d associate with internet chat rooms. Not every topic posted requires a voice response, and you can leave text comments too.
It’s a unique experience, and there’s plenty of opportunity to help others out. You’ll probably have a better Wakie experience if you join one of the many clubs, or filter by topic to find exactly what you’re looking for.
4. Golden Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community. Golden Volunteer Opportunities makes it easier than ever to get involved. The idea behind the app-only service is to remove the barriers that often put people off giving up their time by automating as much as possible.
Sign up and grant the app access to your location, then take a look at the volunteering opportunities in your area. You can filter by location (distance), availability (based on your schedule) and the types of volunteering you would like to do. Indoor/outdoor, active/mellow, mind/body, and independent/social are available.
Your success with Golden will depend largely on your location. Densely populated urban centers in the US are well-represented, though I couldn’t find anything overseas (I tried Melbourne, London, and Tokyo).
5. Elev8society Volunteer Opportunities
If you don’t have any success with the volunteering app above, why not try this one from Elev8society? The idea is largely the same, except this app gives you the opportunity to volunteer from anywhere in the world.
The app represents four main cities: Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and New York. These cities offer real opportunities to get out and help, or you can opt for the “anywhere” option instead. These are largely remote activities and small acts of kindness.
That’s why you’ll find tasks like resume writing to help the homeless find jobs, crowd-sourcing children’s books, and leaving inspirational notes in random places.
6-7. Blood Donor and Blood Nearby
Donating blood is one of the easiest ways of giving someone a chance at life. And your smartphone can make the process even easier. Blood Donor from American Red Cross (iOS | Android) is one of the best apps for US residents wanting to give blood.
The app helps you find blood donation centers, schedule appointments, and even track your blood as it makes its way to storage. Depending on where you’re located, you may have different luck with different apps—so check to see if your state has its own blood donation app.
Another app worth trying is Blood Nearby (iOS | Android), primarily focused on India with the ability to request or fill requests for blood. The app works worldwide to help find donors and show you the nearest places you can go to donate blood.
Be a Force for Good With These Helpful Apps
These are some of our favorite apps that let you help other people, using the technology in your pocket. But before we go, there’s one last service to mention.
FoodCloud is a service aimed at reducing food waste by going directly to businesses for donations. Charities then pick up the food and redistribute it to people in need. If you know of any businesses that might want to get involved, why not let them know?