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A woman running in Central Park, New York

Charity Miles

The philanthropic app that allows you to give back when you exercise

By Charity Miles, LLC

Project URL: charitymiles.org
Project Twitter: @CharityMiles

  • Community Engagement
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Geolocation
  • Mobile
  • Social Software

On the surface, Charity Miles is just like any other exercise app, a tool that motivates you to run, walk and bike more by logging how many miles you’ve travelled via the GPS on your phone. But the app's forward thinking founders think of it as a movement: to get us ‘exercising for others.’ 

The long-term objective of Charity Miles is to divert the billions advertisers shell out on ineffective digital advertising a year towards good causes. How? By building an army of ‘sponsored athletes’ out of everyday Joes like you and me.

For the user, it’s dead easy. Before you start your workout, you swipe through a register of (currently 22) good causes, from Feeding America to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Swipe on to say whether you’ll be either biking, or walking or running (you earn 10 cents a mile to bike, 25c to walk or run) and you’re off. Your phone’s GPS lets the app’s basic distance monitor track how far you’ve gone, and make a donation accordingly. At the end of a workout, the app nudges you to post your achievements to social media – to plug your achievement, the charity or cause you’ve chosen to exercise for, and as a nod to your sponsor.

Charity Miles was founded by 34-year-old lawyer Gene Gurkoff when his constant marathon and triathlon fundraising started to exhaust friends’ and family’s largesse. Already, in just its first year, 100,000 participants have logged enough miles to have reached the moon and back three times, earning $350,000 for charities. The $1M funding pot is currently bankrolled by Gurkoff and his business partner while the app gathers enough users to entice big advertisers. Gurkoff is confident they’ll come on board, ‘Charity Miles is a deliverable return on investment [unlike philanthropic spending] so they can spend their larger advertising budget on helping us cure Parkinson’s, cancer, etc.’

The app, which won the 2013 South by South West People’s Choice Award, was described as a savvy, pro-bono next-step for the ‘Quantified Self’ movement: letting you clock up time, miles and social impact all at once.

Image 'Central Park Reservoir, Aug 2011 - 14' courtesy of Ed Yourdon

Last updated: 11th of June, 2014

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