They say that charity begins at home. Yet with the time crunch of modern life, many of us barely get the time we'd like to dedicate to a full personal life. When we think of charity organizations and volunteering, and we always feel a pang of guilt. We've got the best of intentions, we'd love to help those less fortunate than ourselves - we just never seem to have the time.
This month (April), the US and Canada celebrate annual Volunteer Month. We've selected 6 innovative charity and volunteering apps for your iPhone that even the most overly committed can use to help out.
No matter your shortage of time, you'll always find something you can get involved in, whether it's down at your local charity drive or from the comfort of your living room. Time, money, resources: whatever you have to give, every little bit helps.
GiveGab is a fantastically creative and complete social networking app for volunteers, which helps connect people looking to help worthy causes with organizations who could use an extra set of hands.
Bright, colorful, and with all the great features that make social networking fun, the app allows you to introduce yourself, your story, and your interests to connect you with causes which might be of interest to you. You can set volunteering goals, share with other users, and your social networking contacts, and be inspired by things other people are doing.
GiveGab is easy to use, super smart, and really works.
The recently launched Be My Eyes by Thunderclap is an incredible app which connects volunteers all over the world with blind people to help them go about their daily lives a bit more easily. This includes tasks that range from checking the sell-by date on a carton of milk to identifying a can of peaches out of all the tins in the cupboard.
New users must indicate if they are sighted or need to be assisted by the network. From then on, when a blind user needs support from someone sighted, s/he just has to launch the app, starting a live video call with a volunteer. As the developers explain, "Be My Eyes is all about contributing to and benefiting from small acts of kindness."
Having already gathered around 10K sighted volunteers and 1K blind users, Be My Eyes is the kind of app that makes you actually proud to live in such an advanced, digital age.
Be Brave Childhood Cancer Awareness Photo Frames: 8.0/10
The Be Brave Foundation is a Florida-based cancer charity which supports kids and their families who are battling the nasty, life threatening disease. The organisation was set up in honor of Joshua, the brave son of the founders who's been battling cancer since age 3. Since June 2014, the fund has raised over $70,000 and supported more than 100 families, all on a volunteer basis.
Be Brave Childhood Cancer Awareness Photo Frames is the official app for this worthy cause, which is aimed at spreading awareness and garnering support and donations towards fighting this cruel killer. 100% of download sales go to the charity.
If you're cynical about donating to charity: think of it this way. Not only are you parting with cash for a worthy cause, but you're also doing your bit to spread awareness - and that can only ever be a good thing.
The neat and attractive UN Calendar of Observances is a beautifully designed app for promoting awareness on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian, and human rights issues. With glossy photos and loads of useful and insightful information, the app primarily promotes awareness on upcoming events. There are also links to practical ways you can get involved in events worldwide.
In the calendar section, you can see upcoming events. Each entry features links to videos, photos and articles related to it, as well as events where you can get involved. The sheer variety of the causes is hugely impressive, and there will be something to appeal to everyone. The beauty of all UN observances is that they are internationally recognized, thus all encompassing.
The app integrates with your device's calendar so you can constantly stay abreast of upcoming events, which are practically daily. As you might expect, it is available in all official languages of the UN: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Bahasa Indonesia.
Kiwanis International is a global community of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. The organisation's official app is a well-made, easy-to-use tool for getting involved with community projects near you.
Search the database of 8,000 clubs worldwide to find Kiwanis clubs near you, then invite friends and keep abreast of club news. Wherever you are, you'll be able to find and get involved in the next nearby charity drive.
SnapDonate is a brilliantly clever logo-recognition app, designed for charities and their supporters. It makes the most of your device's camera: simple point it at a UK charity logo, and the app instantly detects which charity this represents so that people can give on the go. No text messages or QR codes needed. Just snap, and donate anything from 2-50 GBP to over 13,000 UK charities.
Payments can be made by card or Paypal, are fully secure, and all donations are handled by JustGiving and Virgin Money. It's a truly convenient way of giving and tracking donations since the app works everywhere: in the street, on a train, or on the sofa – even if your phone is not online (gifts can be queued up and then sent once back online).