Because our work can be bigger than us, here is a selection of indie projects that are giving money to charity, promoting a cause, helping the voluntary or non-profit sectors, and just generally making the world a better place.
These projects are all trying to make a difference in the world. They are examples of some of the great work that can be done by makers. Hopefully they will prompt your own ideas about what you can make and the impact you could have. You might even want to try out some of these tools for yourself and your work.
Donations and giving
Givalytics helps you make analytical choices about your charitable giving. Maker Artem Koren described his process:
“A few years ago I decided to set aside funds for charities. As I started to consider which causes are important to me and how to allocate funds to organizations supporting these causes, I realized that this is not a trivial task. Ideally, I wanted to invest in charities the same way I invest in stocks: buy some retail, a few tech, and a bit of pharma, just in case that miracle anti-aging pill gets invented. Unfortunately, there was no online tool or mobile app that would allow me to do this easily. This is how the idea for Givalytics was born.”
Matching Donations help you make the most out of your donation by finding matches for your money.
A beautiful site aggregating charities and providing transparency is Ella. Reaching third billing on Product Hunt for its launch it aggregates charities and gives clear information on their income and expenditure and allows user ratings on other metrics like the fundraising friendliness and ease of donation. It’s made by Daniel Meade, who works on meaningful, impactful products that give something back.
Future Crunch runs an inspiring newsletter. It has a Patreon with a twist – the money they raise from their audience goes to charity.
Good Today describes itself as Netflix for charity. You pay 25 cents a day and get an email with information and charities to choose from. They’ve raised over $270,000 for charities already. It’s an amazingly simple but clearly very effective idea.
Lattes for Change was a 24 Hour Startup winner and lets you see what giving up your latte could do for the world, including links to go and donate there and then.
Effective Altruism is a Y Combinator project that lets you outsource the sometimes overwhelming task of choosing the charity to donate to.
Raise money by being your normal charming, foulmouthed self with SwearJar, a Slackbot that fines you for those naughty words and donates the money to charity.
Share The Meal is a United Nations World Food Program app that lets you donate fifty cents to feed a hungry child with just a tap.
Dollar A Day hit the top spot on Product Hunt when they launched in 2014. The project closed after raising over $300,000 that year. But there’s great info on the site, and they open sourced the code.
Buffer matched their team profit share with a 20% charitable donation that saw $78,999 go to “causes the team care about.”
DEED promises to make volunteering easy, social, and fun. Ryan Hoover stopped by the Product Hunt launch to offer some feedback and ideas. Maker Anthony Yoon has streamlined the volunteering process that can sometimes be rocky, especially when starting with a new organisation.
Jobs markets are a popular choice for a side project. How about ones with a charitable, ethical, or environmental twist? Like Sliced, by Ville Vesterinen and Viljami Salminen. Sliced finds opportunities that have a direct impact on reversing change by matching users with selected opportunities.
Vesterinen described the inspiration behind Sliced in the Product Hunt launch:
“Ultimately it’s really build to solve my own problem – to be able to look at the mirror in the morning and work on the biggest and most serious challenge we have yet to face.”
ALMA has your donations and volunteering covered. Discover funds and contribute with your time or money.
Contribute while you search and surf
Hopely is a cute search engine based on Bing with three charities you can choose to support.
Ecosia is the tree-planting search engine, where 80% of the profits go towards planting trees.
Donate Your Website leverages high traffic on bigger websites to raise awareness for nonprofits. It was built for a Product Hunt Hackathon.
Tab For A Cause serves small ads when you open a new tab, the proceeds from which are donated to charity.
Apps to change a life
Lyra is a symbol to speech app for children with autism. Lyra was introduced to Product Hunt by Cat Noone, who has a track record of accessibility apps with Iris, a modern emergency alert system, and Stark, a colour blind simulator for Sketch.
What’s Up? comes widely recommended by mental health organisations as a great app for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Another app is SAM, which stands for Self-help for Anxiety Management and that’s exactly what it does.
Other ways to make a difference
This Y Combinator startup finds jobs for people with criminal records: 70 Million Jobs.
Another YC company supports employees facing online harassment: Tall Poppy.
Into 3D printing? IKEA has launched a line of 3D printable accessibility aids for its furniture. With This Ables you can print your own, or get inspiration.
See the carbon footprint for your everyday choices with Carbon Trim.
Outvote helps people take action and join campaigns to create change both on and offline.
Cam Adair built a support network for videogame addicts and you can read his story on MakerMag.
Want to be inspired and think about what you can do? There’s a new podcast coming.
How can you up your charity game?
There are lots of ways makers can implement donations, volunteering, and other social impact work.
Donating a percentage of profits is a straightforward way to give. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount. It’s better to be sustainable than flashy and those smaller amounts really do add up.
You might not have profits to spare but you could always set a goal to donate a certain amount of profit to charity in the future. You could use your platform to raise awareness, start a fundraising drive, or offer matched contributions.
Makers have in-demand skills and there are lots of volunteering opportunities you could take on, often for just a few hours a month. Use some of the products listed here to help find your perfect place, or Google your area and “volunteer”.
Could you donate your product or service somehow? A lot of businesses have reduced or free rates for charitable organisations, educators, and students.
Consider something with a little extra oomph for your next project. There are huge issues facing people and the planet right now but as we can see from the examples on this page we can all make a difference. Think about an issue close to your heart and how you can contribute in your own way. Get a bit creative and you’ll have an idea for your next side project in no time.
Integrating some sort of charitable contribution into your work adds another layer of passion, determination, and pride to your work. Being a maker can change your life, and it can change the world too.