I'll pay $10xN to the people who build this app, where N is the total karma of this post three months from now, up to a max of $20,000, unless something shady happens like some sort of bot farm. If it turns out this app already exists, I'll pay $1xN instead to the people who find it for me. I'm open to paying significantly more in both cases if I'm convinced of the altruistic case for this app existing; this is just the minimum I personally can commit to and afford. EDIT: What I'm doing here is trying to gauge the popularity of this would-be app; it's not worth funding unless a lot of people would actually use it. Maybe I shouldn't have used karma as a proxy for this, because it feels like vote brigading. So, going forward, let's just say I'm interested in funding this app if there's evidence that lots of people would use it. Speak up in the comments if you'd use it yourself and/or if you'd be willing to help fund it and/or if you'd be willing to help build it.

The app consists of a gigantic, full-screen button such that if you press it, the phone will vibrate and play a little satisfying "ching" sound and light up sparkles around where your finger hit, and then $1 will be donated to GiveDirectly. You can keep slamming that button as much as you like to thereby donate as many dollars as you like.

In the corner there's a menu button that lets you change from GiveDirectly to Humane League or AMF or whatever (you can go into the settings and input the details for a charity of your choice, adding it to your personal menu of charity options, and then toggle between options as you see fit. You can also set up a "Donate $X per button press instead of $1" option and a "Split each donation between the following N charities" option.)

That's it really.

Why is this a good idea? Well, I'm not completely confident it is, and part of why I'm posting is to get feedback. But here's my thinking:

I often feel guilty for eating out at restaurants. Especially when meat is involved. Currently I donate a substantial amount to charity on a yearly basis (aiming for 10% of income, though I'm not doing a great job of tracking that) but it feels like a chore, I have to remember to do it and then log on and wire the funds. Like paying a bill.

If I had this app, I think I'd experiment with the following policy instead: Every time I buy something not-necessary such as a meal at a restaurant, I whip out my phone, pull up the app, and slam that button N times where N is the number of dollars my purchase cost. Thus my personal spending would be matched with my donations. I think I'd feel pretty good while doing so, it would give me a rush of warm fuzzies instead of feeling like a chore. (For this reason I suggest having to press the button N times, instead of building the app to use a text-box-and-number-pad.)

Then I'd check in every year or so to see whether my donations were meeting the 10% goal and make a bulk donation to make up the difference if not. If it exceeds the goal, great!

I think even if no one saw me use this app, I'd still use it & pay for it. But there's a bonus effect having to do with the social consequences of being seen using it. Kinda like how a big part of why veganism is effective is that you can't hide it from anyone, you are forced to bring it up constantly. Using this app would hopefully have a similar effect -- if you were following a policy similar to the one I described, people would notice you tapping your phone at restaurants and ask you what you were doing & you'd explain and maybe they'd be inspired and do something similar themselves. (Come to think of it, it's important that the "ching" sound not be loud and obnoxious, otherwise it might come across as ostentatious.) I can imagine a world where this app becomes really popular, at least among certain demographics, similar to (though probably not as successful as) veganism.

Another mild bonus is that this app could double as a tracker for your discretionary spending. You can go into the settings and see e.g. a graph of your donations over time, statistics on what time of day you do them, etc. and learn things like "jesus do I really spend that much on dining out per month?" and "huh, I guess those Amazon purchases add up." Yes, there are plenty of other ways to track this sort of thing, but it's still a nice bonus.

Thoughts? Criticism? Anyone interested in building this? "awg" from LW is potentially interested in doing the front-end, but my sneaking suspicion is that the back-end would be the hard part (e.g. payment processing). 





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This kinda feels like vote brigading:

"where N is the total karma of this post three months from now, up to a max of $20,000"

Ad I'm torn because I obviously want to entice you to donate more, but I don't support people buying Karma in a direct " $ donated in -> Karma out" fashion like this.

Recent forum post on vote brigading here:


I've seen people do a thing where, if they're using karma to collect votes, for example, they include a second comment to downvote, so their net karma remains the same. You could also use the agree-votes on a comment to collect votes (rather than the post karma itself).

Hmmm. I really don't want the karma, I was using it as a signal of how good the idea is. Like, creating this app is only worth someone's time and money if it becomes a popular app that lots of people use. So if it only gets  like 20 karma then it isn't worth it, and arguably even if it gets 50 karma it isn't worth it. But if it blows up and hundreds of people like it, that's a signal that it's going to be used by lots of people.

Maybe I should have just asked "Comment in the comments if you'd use this app; if at least 30 people do so then I'll fund this app." Idk. If y'all think I should do something like that instead I'm happy to do so.

ETA: Edited the OP to remove the vote-brigady aspect.

Everyone please downvote this comment of mine if they want to support the app idea but don't want to give me karma as a byproduct of my polling strategy; this cancels out the karma I get from the OP.

The World Food Programma already has an app (Android, iOS) that lets you do something similar. It might be of inspiration to those working on this

Thanks for mentioning this, I was going to post this myself.

I like this idea in the abstract.

One implementation detail that I worry about is how much friction would exist in the micro-transaction. For example, if I do this on my iPhone would it just go <ching> and then make the donation, or would it then pop up a little screen saying "pick your method of payment, then I double press the side button for apple pay, then it scans my face and I wait a beat". I think it has to be the latter given iOS platform constraints (to stop scammers from just taking people's money), but I think that might greatly reduce the "fun, friction-free" thing that I see as the draw here.

Oh dang. I definitely want it to be the former, not the latter. Maybe we can get around the iOS platform constraints somehow, e.g. when you press the button it doesn't donate the money right away, but just adds it to an internal tally, and then once a quarter you get a notification saying 'time to actually process this quarter's donations, press here to submit your face for scanning, sorry bout the inconvenience'

I would lean towards making the first version a website instead so you wouldn't have to go through the hassle of following Apple / Google's rules. For example in the App Store Review Guidelines there are extra procedures to follow for such apps - https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ it explicitly states: 

3.2.1 Acceptable: (vi) Approved nonprofits may fundraise directly within their own apps or third-party apps, provided those fundraising campaigns adhere to all App Review Guidelines and offer Apple Pay support. These apps must disclose how the funds will be used, abide by all required local and federal laws, and ensure appropriate tax receipts are available to donors. Additional information shall be provided to App Review upon request. Nonprofit platforms that connect donors to other nonprofits must ensure that every nonprofit listed in the app has also gone through the nonprofit approval process. Learn more about becoming an approved nonprofit.

3.2.2 Unacceptable: (iv) Unless you are an approved nonprofit or otherwise permitted under Section 3.2.1 (vi) above, collecting funds within the app for charities and fundraisers. Apps that seek to raise money for such causes must be free on the App Store and may only collect funds outside of the app, such as via Safari or SMS.

Ouch, I wasn't aware of those rules, they do seem quite restrictive. If it's a website rather than an app, how easy would it be to set it up so that you can access it with a single button press? I guess you can have favorites, default sites, etc.

On both iOS and Android, you can add websites to your home screen like apps. It’s just usually not quite as nice an experience and not as intuitive for people.

I think this is a great idea, I'd download this app. I don't have the technical skills to make it, but if there was a copywriting element, I could help with that.

I also had the thought a while ago that I could try out a policy of donating an equal amount to charity when I made a purchase that felt 'extravagant' (in addition to giving 10%-ish). This would both disincentivize extravagance (extravagance would cost twice as much!) but also make me feel less guilty when I did do it (because the guilt stems from a place of 'that money could help the needy instead', whereas if the extravagance is instead directly tied to a donation to the needy, that's less true).

I would use this! I go back and forth on whether I should give money to beggars. Whilst I think the answer to this question depends on the specific location and context, this app would make the “but I should rather give that discretionary money to an effective charity” option a lot more realistic.

I often feel guilty for eating out at restaurants. Especially when meat is involved.

I kinda feel like I personally wouldn't want to use the app like this, it spontaneously feels like I wouldn't fully own the tradeoffs I'm under or something? Like I'd be trying to distract myself from the outcomes of the choices I'm making? If I'd think I made the best tradeoffs by eating meat now and then, I'd probably just want to one time cry about how sad it is and make peace with living in a world that also features this particular cruel tradeoff.

(And now back to reducing x-risks from AI! <3 )

I think defining a spec with your minimum acceptable features would make this more likely to happen. I was semi-interested in doing this, but then saw that you added a few more features (graphs &c).

Minimum acceptable features are the bits prior to "That's it really."

But really, before anyone actually goes and invests significant effort into building this, you should coordinate with me + other people in this comment section.

both Apple's App Store and Google Play Store have policies in place that require you to provide clear and transparent communication to users about charges before processing in-app purchases.

Apple's App Store Review Guidelines state that you must "clearly and accurately describe the in-app purchase and its terms" to users before they initiate the purchase. This means you need to provide sufficient information about the charge, such as the price, what the user will receive in return, and any applicable terms or conditions. It's essential to obtain explicit user consent before processing any charges.

Similarly, Google Play's Developer Policy Center requires that you "clearly disclose the price, currency, and the specific functionality or content users are purchasing" and "obtain explicit consent from the user before charging them." The pricing information should be presented in a way that is easily understandable to users.

To comply with these policies, it is common practice to display a clear and prominent dialog or popup within your app, informing users about the charge and requesting their consent before proceeding with the purchase. This popup should provide a clear description of the purchase, the associated cost, and any relevant terms or conditions.

Thus, having a button to click that charges 1$ isn't possible without a popup between each click.
Anyone got ideas for alternatives?

Oh dang. How about: When you press the button it doesn't donate the money right away, but just adds it to an internal tally, and then once a quarter you get a notification saying 'time to actually process this quarter's donations, press here to submit your face for scanning, sorry bout the inconvenience'

Why does what you quoted mean a dialog is necessary? Couldn't the button itself just say something like "$1, goes to GiveWell" and then tapping it is you giving consent?

As another commenter already mentioned, this is exactly the idea behind the World Food Programme's app called Share The Meal. It is quite a successful app.

The closest thing to the app you want that I know of is this app from The Life You Can Save, which I was part of developing when I was working at Meepo. We really liked the Share The Meal app and wanted to create something similar for effective charities. 

Payment is not complicated; you just need to integrate a payment provider such as Stripe or Adyen. However, one problem with these payment providers is that they charge per transaction. This hits micro-transactions such as $1 especially hard. For Stripe, for example, the fees for European cards are 1.5% + 0.25€. For many people this might not be an issue but to me it feels wrong that more than 25% of my donation would go to the payment provider. But if the app is just for fuzzies and not your main way of donating, perhaps it could be fine.

As others have pointed out, you won't be able to create a button that you can "spam" to donate because Apple and Google won't allow it. Maybe your internal tally idea would be allowed by Apple and Google, I am not sure.

Thanks for making this post, I really like this app idea and I'm glad others do too.

In Canada there is a company called TipTapPay (https://tiptappay.com/) and I'm sure they have competitors here and equivalents in other countries. They offer a simple, instant contactless payment that goes directly to a charity. 

Existing tap-to-give solutions don't function like your hypothetical app, but they could achieve a fairly similar end-result with far less friction. For example users don't have to download an app, link and authorize payment types, etc. 

One more case for this potentially being a better fit for a hardware solution, rather than software, is that if I were to see a stranger eating alone at a restaurant tapping away at a noisy app, I'm not likely going to approach them. I'll assume they are playing a Candy Crush-style game and don't want to be interrupted. 

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