How to Improve iPhone’s New Charity Snooze App: Pick an Anti-Charity

(Hemera)

A new iPhone app links your alarm clock snooze button to your wallet. Every time you hit snooze, you pay. To be precise, 25 cents goes to charity. Whilst I admire the charitable impulse and the entrepreneurialism here, I do wonder how effective this commitment device will be. A quarter isn’t a lot. Particularly when in a deep slumber. And the money goes to a good thing. Two slight twists on this app would intrigue me:

 

1)      The anti-charity. A popular option at stickK.com (disclosure: Ian Ayres, fellow Freakonomics contributor, and I are co-Founders of stickK.com), is to pick an “anti-charity” such as the Bush or Clinton Presidential Libraries, depending on your particular persuasion (those in the UK can choose their most despised football team).

2)      The reverse: Donate if you do NOT press snooze. Set a goal for money to raise for a charity you love. Every day you do NOT press snooze, you add money to your “to donate” pot. (Yet another disclosure: this would thus work similarly to the American Cancer Society’s http://www.chooseyou.com campaign, which is powered by stickK.com).

I also wonder if this will raise more money for charity, or may actually displace other giving? It could displace other giving for two reasons (that immediately come to mind): It could generate a negative association with the charity you choose, by making it now a “bad” thing that bugs you in the morning. Another concern is whether automating small charitable payments may reduce overall charitable giving if it leads people to check off the mental charity box. I discussed this question earlier as it relates to Bank of America’s Keep the Change for savings and to Swipegood for donating to charity.

Ultimately though this is an empirical question. Anyone want to run some tests?

LetGive, the company hosting Snooze does though seem like an interesting concept – providing a platform for mobile apps to help nonprofits fundraise. One can imagine many creative ways to integrate giving to one’s daily life, through a mobile app. Any other ideas?

 

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  1. Claudio I. says:

    I think it would be more effective if it were personal. I’ve never been a person who uses the snooze button in general, but if I donated some money to a fund for my wife to buy shoes and purses, I would be quickly cured of the snooze mentality. Likewise, if she contributed to my tech-gadget lust fund every time she hit the snooze button, she’d also be cured.

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  2. Eric M. Jones. says:

    Did you hear about Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s new suicide machine? It has a snooze button. Push it and you can live five more minutes….

    ba dum…

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  3. Voice of Reason says:

    Another fun option that could be made possible with the use of this kind of technology, is to post every time you hit the snooze button to your Facebook feed, or make it a Twitter post. That way all of your friends and family can see what a lazy sloth you are every time you hit the snooze button.

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  4. Muse says:

    Personally I don’t ever use the snooze button (using an alarm without that option might have something to do with it…) and the app would just be a liability.

    If I were using the button however, I think I would set up the prize for a snooze. Only then could I see it being effective and worthwile. But that’s just my opinion.

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  5. nicole says:

    I think it would be great to combine them. Every morning (or every time your alarm goes off), you implicitly have the choice of either contributing to a cause you care about (by not hitting snooze – and hopefully getting out of bed) OR contributing to an organization you despise (by hitting snooze).

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  6. Bre says:

    I disagree that the point of the app is to donate money to charity. While that is what it ultimately does if you press snooze, the point is that if you don’t wake up it’s going to cost you, so you better wake up soon. They just donate the money to charity so that it is going towards a good cost.

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  7. Michael says:

    In the UK, you can make a donation to a football team?

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  8. Steve Bennett says:

    To be effective for me, it would have to be causing immediate pain. You’d need something like a special debit card that you use for things you enjoy (coffee maybe, or frivolous online purchases), and the snooze button takes money out of that. So rather than 25c out of your entire net wealth, it would be 25c out of an account that perhaps only gets $50 a month.

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