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7 free apps you can use to give back

Use these apps to give to charity -- without spending any of your own money.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

I know, I know -- you'd love to donate to charity, but you're short on both time and money.

Well, today's your lucky day, because you don't need either of those things to start giving back! Here are seven free apps that make giving to charity ridiculously easy -- and free.

Donate a Photo

Donate a Photo (Android and iOS) is a free app by Johnson & Johnson that makes helping people as easy as snapping a picture. For each photo you "donate" through the app, Johnson & Johnson makes a $1 donation toward the cause or charity of your choice. You can donate one photo per day -- that's an effortless $365 to charity each year.

Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To start donating photos, you'll first need to download the app and sign up for an account. You can connect your account to your Facebook and/or Twitter profiles, but social media sharing isn't a requirement. The app provides a list of causes you can donate to (current charities include Save the Children, Born Free Africa and Operation Smile), details about each organization, and information on how your donation will be used. Once you've chosen a cause, click Donate Now and snap a picture or choose a photo from your camera roll.

Charity Miles

Make your workouts count with Charity Miles (Android and iOS), a free app that rewards the charity of your choice for every mile you walk, run or bike. Charity Miles is sort of like a walk/run/bike-a-thon -- corporate sponsors pledge up to $0.25 for each mile you log in the app. The app features 37 participating charities, including the World Wildlife Fund, charity: water, and Habitat for Humanity.

Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Here's what you do: Download and install the app and sign up for a Charity Miles account. Before each workout, open the app and pick the charity you want to help. Select the type of activity you're doing (outdoor walking/running, indoor walking/running, or outdoor cycling) and start your workout. The app uses your phone's GPS and accelerometer to detect movement and measure distance. When you're finished with your workout, hit the stop button in the app and the corporate sponsor for that charity will donate $0.10 per mile biked or $0.25 per mile walked or run.


If you're the kind of person who Instagrams dishes from trendy restaurants, Feedie (Android and iOS) is a free app that makes your snaps count. Feedie lets restaurants exchange donations for social media love. For each photo shared via Feedie, participating restaurants will make a donation to The Lunchbox Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides meals to schoolchildren in South Africa.

Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Here's how it works: Download the app and sign in using your Facebook or Twitter log-in. You must have Facebook or Twitter, because the app works on the premise that you're actually sharing your photos with people in your social media circles (once you sign in, you can also add your Foursquare and Google+ accounts to your profile). Use Feedie's map to find a participating restaurant, go to the restaurant, snap a photo of your meal, and share it with your friends. The restaurant will then make a donation to The Lunchbox Fund.

The only real drawback with Feedie is the lack of participating restaurants. If you live outside of Los Angeles or New York City, you may find that the nearest Feedie-friendly restaurant is hundreds of miles away.

Give 2 Charity

Give 2 Charity (Android and iOS) is a free app that asks for information in exchange for points that can be applied toward charitable donations. This app isn't for everyone -- it constantly tracks your smartphone's location data in the background and gives you points when you go places -- but if you don't mind being tracked, it's an easy way to give back.

Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To use Give2Charity, you'll need to download and install the app and sign up for an account. You'll also need to let the app access your background location data. Once you've done this, you'll passively earn points for as long as the app is installed on your device (you can also earn points by completing surveys and sharing the app with friends). You can redeem these points for donations to the charity of your choice -- participating charities include The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society.

Charity Tap

For when you want to make a difference one tap at a time, Charity Tap (iOS) is a free app that makes donating into a game. Well, sort of a game. Similar to FreeRice but much simpler, Charity Tap donates a single grain of rice each time you tap the bowl on the screen. The app relies on revenue from the ads you'll see during your tapping frenzy to support the World Food Programme.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Charity Tap is literally the easiest game you've ever played. All you have to do to play the game is tap the screen. It's not a competition, but to keep things interesting the app does integrate with iOS's Game Center (with achievements all the way up to 1 million grains of rice). At the top of the screen, you'll see a running count of the grains of rice your taps have donated, along with a meter that measures your taps per second.

Walk for a Dog

WoofTrax' Walk for a Dog (Android and iOS) app lets you raise money for your favorite animal organization while you walk your dog. All you have to do is pick the charity of your choice (the app will automatically choose an animal shelter or rescue group near you if you don't want to choose), sign up for an account, add in your dog's information, and start walking. The app is funded by ads and sponsors, and the longer you walk, the more money you'll raise for your charity.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To get started with Walk for a Dog, you'll need to submit your name and email address, and then confirm your email address by clicking on a link sent to that address. The app will then ask you to add your dog (or dogs), but you can also choose "Walk for Cassie" or add in a fake dog's info -- you don't actually need a dog to use the app. You can then hit "Start Walking," and the app will track your steps, distance, and map your walk using GPS. iPhone users can use the app on a treadmill or stationary bike, but Android users will need to get outside for the app to work.


What uses corporate sponsorship dollars and is even easier than Donate a Photo? Tinbox (Android and iOS), a free charity app that lets you give one dollar each day to a specific project that a charity is doing. The dollar is donated by a corporate sponsor, so it's no money out of your pocket -- but, of course, that money doesn't go to the charity unless you log in and donate.

Tinbox may not be available in your city.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To get started with Tinbox, you'll need to log in -- you can sign up for a new account, or you can log in with your existing Facebook account. You'll be asked to create a username (even if you log in with Facebook), and then you can choose the charity and project you want to donate to. The only downside to this app? At the moment it's only available in select cities, and by select cities we mean maybe just San Francisco. But the organization promises more cities will be added soon.

Editors' note: This article was originally published on January 1, 2016, and was updated on December 28, 2016 to reflect new information.