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?