Smart phone apps can be a boon or a boondoggle, depending on whether they promote productivity (thereby saving time), or goofing off (thereby wasting the same). I don’t want to suggest that game playing can never be worthwhile, but anyone who has dabbled in addictive games like “Candy Crush” (so I hear) or “100! Block Puzzle” (so I’ve experienced) can see an hour or more disappear before their very eyes.

Charity MilesMy favorite app is one that runs in the background, does something good, and requires only a few seconds to operate: it’s a triple dip of positivity.

The app is called Charity Miles, and its purpose is to encourage physical fitness, community building, and charitable giving — all at once.

The concept is this: download the app (preferably along with friends or colleagues who can form a team); turn it on when you get ready to walk, run, or bike; choose a charity you’d like to support; and earn contributions to that charity while improving your health and engaging in healthy competition with your friends. A variety of corporations have agreed to donate money to the charity you’ve chosen for every mile you complete.

When I go for a walk, for example, Charity Miles facilitates a $.25 per mile contribution to Habitat for Humanity, the charity I usually choose from the 30 or so options available. With 558 miles under my belt since downloading the app and joining the Campbell University team, I’ve “earned” right at $140 for Habitat. Overall, Campbell folk have racked up 10,184 miles, which works out to $2,546 for their chosen charities.

Some of the 30+ charities supported by Charity Miles.

Some of the 30+ charities supported by Charity Miles.

Campbell’s team includes 160 members, but participants can form and join multiple teams. Sororities, fraternities, clubs, dorm residents, or church groups can easily create their own teams and challenge each other to see who can raise the most money for charity. In the process, they don’t have to open their wallets, but can help good charities while getting fit and building community to boot. The app includes a handy overview and leaderboard for each team.

Exercise enough, and you may want to reward yourself with a triple dip of pistachio from Sunni Sky’s or another favorite ice cream shop, though you’ll have to pay for that.

Charity Miles is available from app stores featuring iPhone or Android devices, as well as from the Charity Miles website. Ready, set, dip!

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