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charity milesHow many runners or cyclists do you know? In fact, you may be a runner yourself. You may participate in charity sponsored 5Ks or have recently donated money to those that are. With marathon season coming up, runners are gearing up to run 26.2 miles, many running on behalf of numerous charities and nonprofit organizations.  But now, thanks to Charity Miles, every mile you run or walk, 25 cents will be donated to a nonprofit of your choice. Rather cycle? 10 cents for every mile will be donated. With over 30 charities participating, you'll be donating to a worthwhile cause.



Charity Miles was founded in 2012 by Gene Gurkoff and as of today, thousands of people have downloaded the app with over $1 million dollars donated to numerous charities such as Vision Spring, Nothing but Nets, Girl Up, and the Special Olympics.

In Use:
Charity Miles is a free app that is both MAC and Android compatible. It downloads in minutes, and you can get started immediately without having to sign up. Just simply pick which organization you want to sponsor and start exercising. The app tracks how many miles you've run, cycled, or walked. At the end, you can choose to share and thank your sponsors on your social media pages.

Many potential runners or cyclists wonder who actually pays these nonprofits. Is it Gurkoff himself? In fact, there are many sponsors such as Timex and Johnson & Johnson who continue to donate thousands of dollars to the campaign. In an interview with Co.Exist, Gurkoff explains, ""In most cause marketing arrangements, the company gives a bit to charity and spends 7 to 10 times [more effort] promoting it. The promotion is what drives the return on investment, not the charity." He goes on by saying,  "We are trying to reverse that ratio and generate the marketing R.O.I. that companies want from ordinary advertising. This enables them to repurpose their digital media budgets—money that never ever would have gone to charity—for social good." This is a somewhat new marketing theory that has been popping up more and more lately. It's still too new to state if it works better than traditional promoting, but time will tell.

Technology Employed:
Charity Miles requires participants to have either an Apple or Android smartphone. The app is free and downloading it only takes minutes. Charity Miles urges participants to "thank their sponsors" after their run, cycle, or walk. To do this, athletes share their progress on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

Ease of Use:
Using Charity Miles is quite simple. It only requires limited smartphone knowledge. Do you know how to get to your app store? Can you download an app? If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you already have Charity Miles downloading. Next, all you have to do is click on what charity you want your proceeds to go to and start exercising.

Recap:
Charity Miles is a smartphone app that allows runners and cyclists to earn money for the charity of their choice just by exercising. Cyclists earn 10 cents while runners and walkers earn 25 cents towards a charity for every mile they complete. Big name sponsors such as Johnson & Johnson donate a lump sum of money, and in turn Charity Miles doles out the allotted money to each charity.

Advantages:
  • Athletes can contribute to charity solely by running, walking, or cycling.
  • The sign-up process takes minutes and there are no lengthy forms to fill out.
  • Sponsors donate a large sum of money to the app and in turn it gets allocated out to charities. Therefore, charities don't have to wait as long to get their donations.
  • With over 30 charities to choose from, participants can choose from various different causes close to their hearts.

  • Disadvantages
  • Charity Miles gets 50% of the proceeds. For instance if you raise $4.00 through cycling, Charity Miles gets $2.00 while your charity of choice gets $2.00.
  • Many users complain that Charity Miles doesn't clock them in for the miles they exercise. For instance, if you actually run five miles, the app clocks you in for two miles.
  • Because it's a newer app, there are some bugs and kinks the company is trying to work out.
  • Because users have to turn their GPS on on their phones, the battery runs out very quickly.

  • My Opinion:
    Let me start by saying that many people want to give back to the community but they either don't have the resources, the time, or the money to contribute. Charity Miles realized this and built an app where you can contribute to nonprofits without changing your daily habits. A person isn't going to suddenly take up running so they can use Charity Miles, but if a person wants to give back and is already a runner, it's a win/win situation.

    I understand that Charity Miles is a business, but taking 50% of the proceeds does seem excessive. Gurkoff has explained that some of the proceeds go into a separate account to cover the possibility that the company may run out of sponsored funds. While this makes sense, and puts me a bit at ease, it still gives me a sour taste in my mouth.

    Because this software is somewhat new and they are still trying to work out the bugs in the software, I will give it the benefit of the doubt. It would also benefit them to find a way not to use as much battery life as they are. Just having the app on for a few minutes significantly drained my battery.

    Overall, I believe that in time, this app will help numerous charities in the long run. As it becomes more popular, more sponsors will want to contribute money and in turn more nonprofit organizations will be able to benefit from this software.
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    Danielle Loughnane

    Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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