Doing Good Goes Viral


The latest buzz in the app world (following the unfortunate fall of Flappy Bird) is UNICEF’s “Tap Project”  which has been the featured app in several recent publications and is growing. The “Tap Project” began in 2007 as a campaign to provide clean water to people in need but has recently gone social. UNICEF’s app challenges users to get away from their phones for a cause and for every ten minutes a user doesn’t touch their phone, one day of water will be provided to someone in need.

UNICEF is far from the first organization to entice browsers with the idea of doing basic online tasks in the name of charity but this app is just the beginning of a shift to more interactive media. 

Maybe college students don’t have the money or time to donate so websites, games, and apps are encouraging but they can never replace the importance of actual sacrifice. But is this manipulating the power of social media? Is the feel good feeling of avoiding your phone for a length of time or answering a series of trivia questions actually justified and empowering or is it just encouraging laziness by providing an outlet?

UNICEF is a trusted organization that has been around since the 1990s and has since provided nearly 2.1 billion people with access to clean water which leave little question of legitimacy, but it does leave room to wonder if social media is having a negative impact on charity by making it into something marketable and what might next for published media even beyond non-profits?


6 responses to “Doing Good Goes Viral

  1. I like these options in order to donate to charity. I used to go on all the time when I was bored (which gives bowls of rice to people who need it for every vocabulary question you get right), and I took part in the Tap Project as well. I don’t have extra money to donate, so I want to do what I can to help. If that makes me lazy, so be it. I’m still helping people.

  2. This is the first of this, so thank you for bringing this up. This reminds me of other online petitions and form emails that people send to senators and politicians urging them to pass certain legislature or take a stand on certain issues. This form of “astroturfing” gives participants the feeling of making a difference without ever leaving the comfort of their laptops. Whether or not these type of campaigns works is a different argument, but this shows an attempt at social media relevancy by UNICEF, which can only improve their awareness and the spreading of their various messages.

  3. First, I admire UNICEF’s efforts to appeal to a smartphone-addicted generation. Their idea is innovative and interesting. That said, I feel that simply using a smartphone to “contribute” to the cause somewhat trivializes it. It’s almost TOO easy. The idea of simply not using my smartphone contributing to helping children not die of thirst makes me squirm. Talk about first world problems.

  4. This is the first time I am hearing of a charity app and I too find this strange. However, I do think it’s a good idea on UNICEF’s part at getting people to take a break from their phones. Of course this app shouldn’t totally replace physical volunteered service, but it’s bringing awareness to the obsessive use of phones while also providing for those in need.

  5. Jennifer Gardner

    I agree with the other posters on this. While I love the idea that I can make a difference so easily, I also struggle with the fact that it barely requires any sacrifice. I love the idea that I’m donating water to help people out, but it makes it seem so trivial because all I have to do is not use my phone and that will allow people to receive life-sustaining water.

    To me, it seems like a lot of the other recent gimmicks to get people to participate in charity like (RED) products and TOMS. Sure, it’s charity, but when the consumer is getting a tangible benefit from it as well, are the motives really as pure as when people volunteer just for the heck of it?

  6. I think the idea to help such a significant cause by keeping people off of their cell phones is a catch-22. I see its brilliance because of the simplicity of the donation process but I also see what Jennifer is saying about the motives behind the actual cause. Anything that is going to help a greater cause catches my attention and the fact that this company is using an App to do so is genius on their part to be honest.
    Very good topic and conversation. This one is very debatable.

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