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Three University of Denver students create a platform where likes and clicks are used for good

Margaret Jackson
Each post on PocketChange generates a donation to a cause such as gender equityScreenshot of PocketChange app

A social media platform created by three University of Denver students is letting its users donate to the charities of their choice through likes and clicks — without having to take out their wallets.

Through the PocketChange platform, every like, post and reply sends money to charity at no cost to the user. Founders Christian Dooley and Reyn Aubrey wanted to capitalize on the engagement they were seeing on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and convert that engagement into value.

“The idea came from wanting to use technology to make the world a better place,” Aubrey said. “Tech has done hatred — now we want to use it to bring people together.”

Users post a photo, choose the cause they want to support and money goes to the charity. The more people who engage, the more money is donated to that cause. Each action generates $0.01 to $0.05 to charity. So far, PocketChanges has raised about $12,000 on the app.

The team also created a donation model where individuals, foundations and brands donate funds and have their giving amplified by engaging with thousands of people on PocketChange to take action with them.

“The money comes from independent donors funding in larger amounts — anyone who wants to talk about things,” Dooley said. “We also want to work with brand partners to help bring cause alignment to their companies.
Reef conservation is among the many causes PocketChange community members can supportScreenshot of PocketChange app

The charities PocketChanges has selected generally spend 85% or more of their budgets on programs and stand out in all five of PocketChange’s guiding principles: their approach to diversity, sustainable impact, financial efficiency, total transparency and scaling focus.

PocketChange analyzed more than 1.1 million charities through its proprietary process and selected 100 that are tackling world problems. Among the causes PocketChange users support are climate change mitigation, financial literacy, rainforest conservation, refugee displacement, gun violence and safety and fighting racism.

Some of the charities the PocketChange community can support include Room to Read, World Resources Institute, National Forest Foundation and The Ocean Foundation.

The charitable contributions made by PocketChange users are directed to Make My Donation Inc., the platform’s registered 501(c)(3) partner organization. PocketChange does not take a percentage on any donations. Instead, it works with brands to cover its costs so more money goes to the charities.

In addition to creating guiding principles for selecting charities, PocketChange has created principles to guide the behavior of its community members. Those principles are treating others with respect; criticizing ideas, not people; and connecting with people you disagree with.

PocketChange recently teamed up with the RiNo Art District and Fireside Five to launch Cheers for Change, a two-month campaign to support local businesses in the Art District, raise $10,000 for ArtPark Community Hub and send one winner home with $1,000 to spend at RiNo businesses.

Cheers for Change is an interactive campaign designed to drive traffic and revenue to RiNo bars and restaurants while raising $10,000 for ArtPark. The team has joined forces with artists Johnny Draco and Zulima Arango to create a subway-inspired map of the Art District. Each week Cheers for Change will release curated routes highlighting experiences in the Art District to inspire community participation in raising funds.
PocketChange has $10,000 dedicated to help the ArtPark Community HubCourtesy of PocketChange

To participate in the fundraiser, download the PocketChange app, visit the RiNo Art District, take a photo or video of your experience and tag “RiNo ArtPark as the cause.

PocketChange and FireSide at Five have teamed up to launch Posts for Pints, a free happy hour activation at specific bars to incentivize the community to post while they’re out. The pop-ups will be announced via social media , and PocketChange will buy participants a drink when they show their PocketChange Post over the course of the hour.

“PocketChange is a full-blown social network,” Dooley said. “The difference is every post has a cause attached to it that we fund.”

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I'm a Denver-based business writer with expertise in commercial and residential real estate as well as general business news.

Denver, CO

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