Charity begins on your phone

Charity begins on your phone

The venture that began as a way to donate to charity through your desktop wallpaper is grabbing the opportunities presented by the shift to smaller screens.

The original concept, founded in 2012 as Donate Your Desktop, was awarded by Google and UNESCO and raised $200,000 seed funding.

It gave advertisers the chance to take paid space on the donor's desktop wallpaper through an app. The donor used the app free to choose the charity that got 75 percent of the ad revenue.

Now Sush Mobile has created a mobile app as part of the transformation to Little Lot.

The company had always wanted a mobile app but didn't have a mobile developer in house, says director David Hillier. And it wants to be a social movement rather than just an app.

"We want to be seen as a way to engage with the brands you like and the charities you care about.

"We launched what we've always considered to be a beta product. It was the best four guys could come up with in weekends and evenings. We've raised money and listened to feedback and have finally delivered the product we've always hoped it could be."

The user downloads the Android app and chooses one of 10 charities to support, along with the advertising categories they want to opt in to. Advertisers and charities send wallpaper ads to appear on the phone's lock screen.

Advertisers have included the University of Auckland, Barfoot and Thompson, Huffer, Heinz Watties, Air New Zealand the University of Waikato and MediaWorks, with partner charities including Oxfam, WWF, Starship, the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, Make a Wish, Auckland City Mission and Amnesty International. World Vision, Sustainable Coastlines, Zeal and Paw Justice have now come on board, Hillier says.

It's raised $12,000 for the charities and has around 3000 users. Existing users will be asked to go to the website to sign up for the new offering.

The app functionality and service to advertisers has been extended and improved, says Hillier. "There is now a lot more content pushed out with the app, like imagery and icons and logos."

He says a new cause tracker lets users see how donations are tracking, and the advertising is more targeted to make content relevant for users.

Targeting is done using the profile form users fill out when they sign up, which includes age, gender, interests, whether users are based at home or a business, and their charity of interest. It also has a rating system for the wallpapers, so can serve up more of the ones users say they like.

Previously advertisers had to send one wallpaper to an entire audience on any given day, now they can target specific audiences and buy a certain number of impressions.

"It should make quite an affordable and valuable tool for small and medium advertisers that can't afford traditional media," says Hillier.

Callaghan Innovation granted Little Lot $47,000 to cover half of the app's development costs. It hasn't been developed for iOS devices because of the inaccessible lock screen, says Hillier.

The company continues developing its desktop offering.

"We still think there's a solid market there for computers," says Hillier. "We think it's a really relevant advertising space, people still have laptops and a lot of us are still in front of desktop computers for the majority of the day."