#GivingTuesday, which is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the US, is celebrating five years this November. It was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, as a way for people around the world to give back and remember others during the joyous gift-giving season.

In 2015, 17% of online gifts during Giving Tuesday came via mobile, according to Blackbaud. This year the figure is expected to jump even higher.

In specific, we’re seeing charitable organizations take up mobile gamification strategies in order to pique interest. Below, we list five mobile games sponsored by nonprofits that we see having a real impact.

1. “The first game to fight poverty by harnessing the power of fun”

The App: Bloky Line (iOS)

The Cause: World Vision

The Studio: David and Goliath Games

How it Works: 25% of all game play revenue (which includes in-app purchases and in-game advertising) goes directly to support World Vision international projects

In early November, World Vision, one of the world’s largest international children’s charities, which works in over one hundred countries to fight child poverty, partnered with David and Goliath Games to launch Bloky Line, a mobile game that uses rhythm and color to test reflexes and concentration.

2. “It’s not just a game, it’s a quest to help scientists fight dementia”

The App: Sea Hero Quest (iOS and Android)

The Cause: Alzheimer’s Research UK


How it Works: Playing the game for 2 minutes generates the equivalent of 5 hours of lab-based research data for fighting Dementia

Deutsche Telekom collaborated with Alzheimer’s Research UK and researchers at University College London and the University of East Anglia, as well as game developer Glitchers to create Sea Hero Quest. Since it launched in May, the mobile game has attracted more than 2.4M users.

In the game, players have to steer a boat across the sea using what they remember of a map they were shown at the beginning of the game. Since one of the first symptoms of dementia is loss of navigational skills, analyzing gameplay helps researchers understand the difference between getting lost because of disease and getting lost because of natural ageing.

So far, the game has generated sixty three years worth of gameplay to extract data from. 50,000 users are 65+ while over 1.2M are under 25. Alzheimer’s Research UK is looking for more 65+ to play the game -- so while you’re home for thanksgiving, ask your grandparents to give it a try!

3. “Virtual reality. Real-world change”

The App: UNVR (iOS)

The Cause: United Nations

The Studio: TriggarVR

How it Works: Watch and live today’s gravest humanitarian crises via virtual reality. According to the UN, “immersive storytelling leads to empathy - and empathy leads to action”

In September, the UN partnered with TriggarVR to develop UNVR, a mobile app in which users can watch short documentary films in virtual reality. The latest virtual reality film featured on the app is called The “Coast of Coal,” which directed by Faiza Khan, takes place in a coal mine in Korba, Chhattisgarh in Central India. It was originally an article written by Aruna Chandrasekhar who was the lead researcher on the coal issue at Amnesty International.

The film introduces you to Nirupabai who lives on the edge of the mine and watches along as the coal mine ruins and ravages her community.

“Coast of Coal” isn’t the only film featured on the app, others include “Clouds Over Sidra” and “Waves of Grace.”

4. “Help children in need with just a tap on your phone”

The App: ShareTheMeal (iOS, Android, Amazon)

The Cause: United Nations World Food Program

The Studio: ShareTheMeal

How it Works: Users can make micro-donations to support hungry families around the world

In November 2015, the World Food Program, the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger, which reaches 80M people in 80 countries, launched the ShareTheMeal app to help feed hungry children. WFP says there are 795M undernourished people in the world today, and it only costs $0.50 to feed one child for a day.

In July 2015, when the app was tested in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, more than 120,000 users provided more than 1.7M meals for school children in Lesotho in Southern Africa. Later that year in November, ShareTheMeal raised enough funds to give school meals to 20,000 Syrian refugee children in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. In early 2016, the app raised enough to support 2,000 mothers and babies in Homs, Syria and 1,400 refugee children in Beirut.

This time around, ShareTheMeal is raising funds to feed schoolchildren in Zomba, a region of Malawi that El Nino hit particularly hard.

5. “Take a better look at the world”

The App: Color Binoculars (iOS)

The Cause: Color Blindness

The Studio: Microsoft Garage

How it Works: Uses the iPhone camera to help colorblind individuals distinguish colors

Microsoft launched the app in November, which supports all three common forms of color blindness, to help colorblind users see the world as others do. It uses the iPhone camera to automatically adjust difficult-to-see color combinations like red and green to easier ones like pink and green.

According to Color Blind Awareness, there are 2.7M color blind people in the world, affecting about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. The app serves as a much cheaper solution for color blind people who wish to see the world in brighter color.


In an time defined by a game dominated app economy, we see charities and others are doing what they can to get more users, and even more donations and awareness. Today, that means mobile gamification. By adopting mobile games into their fundraising strategies, charities and other organizations are successfully tapping into a completely new market. Over time, the hope is that users take a more active position in charity giving. After all, that’s what Giving Tuesday is all about.

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