Charity Miles: Where Fitness and Philanthropy Collide

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I never imaged I’d be reviewing apps on the Girl Justice Blog. I focus on the policies, programs, and people power we need to build a just world with girls, not tech and gadgets. Then, I discovered Charity Miles.

girl up

This app brings several of my interests together: running/biking, philanthropy, and of course, girl justice. Heres how it works:

“Simply turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start. As you exercise, we’ll track your distance and the money earned. When you’re finished, accept your sponsorship, spread the word, and we’ll send you a note confirming your good work.” (from http://www.charitymiles.org/)

For each mile you run or walk, companies donate $0.25 to the organization you select. For biking, they contribute $0.10.

What I Like About It

I don’t have a lot of money to give away. Any extra change I have goes straight to paying for graduate school. I focus my giving locally and contribute to organizations I know well. Charity Miles gives me a way to give to national organizations that I support without reducing my local giving.

Since I started using Charity Miles in November, I’ve donated to Girl Up and Girls on the Run International. You’ve seen both of them in the Weekly Roundup. I usually donate to our local Girls on the Run chapter, but Charity Miles gives me the opportunity to support their parent organization as well.

Girl Up forms clubs of girls across the world that advocate, raise money, and educate the public about international girl justice issues. Very cool stuff, but very not local, so not usually a part of my philanthropy.

In 2015, I will run/walk on average 10 miles a week, and bike another 10 miles. Using Charity Miles, I’ll earn $2.50 for running, and $1.00 for biking each week. That isn’t much, but it adds up to $182 for the year. Charity Miles gives me a way to donate almost $200 to organizations I wouldn’t otherwise support.

And when it’s raining and I just want to skip the bike ride and drive, or it’s 4:30 and already super dark and I have a hundred things to do… Knowing my workouts contribute to my philanthropic goals helps me get moving when working out sounds pretty miserable.

The Downside

Charity Miles knows A LOT about me. They know that I’m a moderately active woman, aged 25-35 who bikes and runs in North Seattle and supports girl-serving organizations. Whoah. Companies probably “sponsor” me because they want a potential customer to know that they donate to the organizations I care about. It’s like they’re saying, “We’re in the same club.” It’s an advertiser’s dream come true.

On a less 1984-esque level, there are functionality issues. I like to track how often I work out and how far I run/bike each week. Charity Miles gives me a list of dates and distances, but it doesn’t record how long I exercised, or whether I biked or ran. If I want to know how much I’ve racked up for my chosen charity, I have to do the math myself. I can do that, but I expect apps to do the tedious work so that I don’t have to.

Overall

This is an app I’ll keep using. Yeah, I have to tag team with other apps to get the data I want, but that’s okay. And privacy concerns aside, I like the added motivation boost I get from knowing my workout benefits me AND girl justice orgs. If fitness is part of your New Year’s Resolution, I say go for it!

About the Author

Alison Driver is the Director of Strategy and Operations at InfluenceHer (https://www.facebook.com/InfluenceHer), which supports local girl-serving organizations. In her spare time, she runs Data Girl Consulting (www.datagirlconsulting.com), writes The Girl Justice Blog (http://datagirlconsulting.com/blog/), and reads a lot of organizational theory (because she’s pursuing her Masters in Public Affairs at the Evan’s School at the UW). She lives with two awesome dogs.