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Charity Miles Lets Charities Cash in when You Walk, Run or Bike

Joann Pan - Mashable
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January 10, 2013

Charity Miles is an exercise app that works double-time, tracking mileage and raising money for different causes. All users need to do is turn up the volume and go.

The iPhone and Android apps are free. Anyone can earn money for charities with pure mileage. Bikers earn 10 cents per mile while walkers and runners can earn 25 cents a mile for charities.

The company is self funding the initial $1 million covering the app's first users. The company hopes to gain as many athletes on the platform as possible, to entice future corporate sponsors. By sponsoring users' runs and rides, the corporations have a unique way to connect with consumers. Users must share their activity on Facebook and Twitter in order for charities to receive donations.

The GPS-enabled app is sleek and easy to use. Users can track their time, milage and impact.

There are nine charities to choose from, including Achilles International, Autism Speaks, Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity. More charities are scheduled to be added to the platform. There are no limitations to which charities you're helping.

Gurkoff, a former corporate lawyer, dreamed up Charity Miles. He worked previously with the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) to raise money for Parkinson's Research. With the charity, he helped initiate Team Fox — the foundation's fundraising branch. Volunteers were encouraged to organize bake sales, run marathons and initiate homegrown fundraising programs under the Team Fox banner. Individuals have since collected more than $16 million towards finding a cure for Parkinson's Disease.

The goal was to create a tool that harnesses the people power behind charities. Runners and bikers have been donating their mileage to charities for ages. Just look at some of the nation's biggest walks and races including the ING New York City Marathon, the AIDS Walk or Tour de Cure. Millions turn up to raise money for research or to find cures for various illnesses. Apps and web platforms help do that on a daily basis.

The creators of the Charity Miles app see it as an alternative to traditional marketing tactics. By aggregating the followers of many charities, Charity Miles offers corporate sponsors "a better deal."

"I think the people who are in charge of advertising like to spend their budgets on things that do social good," Gurkoff told Mashable. "It's a tool where charities can all come together and the sponsors can sponsor individuals directly with the money going to charities."

Charity Miles joins a wide-open market for fitness-based fundraising apps. One fitness-for-charity device is the Striiv pedometer with built-in apps. Striiv's Walkathon feature plugs in walkers to various charitable causes. Corporate partners are ready to donate on their behalf. The Striiv device costs $99. The Plus 3 Mobile is a free iPhone app, comparable to Charity Miles. It also turns your exercise into money for charity. Activities eligible for sponsorship on the Plus 3 app, however, are wide-ranging and include "physical labor," weight training, Zumba and more.

Apps like Charity Miles and Plus 3 help serial fundraisers with "donor fatigue," which is a problem all charitable racers face. "It gets harder and harder to go back into the well," Gurkoff says.

By sponsoring runners, walkers and bikers on Charity Miles, corporations are able to reach audiences in many ways.

"Nobody walks for charity in secret. It's something you do to make a statement and to raise awareness. When you're done, we hope you will share on Facebook and Twitter. That has a very valuable market value."

Would you use the Charity Miles app? Tell us in the comments if fitness apps have made workouts easier.

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