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Student pitches charity app at Startup Weekend

Photo: Remi Yuan

You could soon be giving back to the community when you play games on your phone. Fourth-year commerce student Liora Raitblat is developing an app that she says will get people donating by gaming.

Give-Back is a “fun and seamless way to give back to charities, causes, and organizations that interest you,” said Raitblat. “You can donate as much or as little as you’re comfortable with.”

Give-Back will incentivize charitable donation. It was inspired by the ice bucket challenge, another example of gamified donation, said Raitblat. The ice bucket challenge consisted of participants dumping a bucket of ice water on their head to raise money for and awareness of ALS, and then encouraging their friends and family to do the same.

While Raitblat admires the scope and the intention of the challenge, she said many of its participants “might not have fully understood why they were doing it.”

Give-Back hopes to overcome this shortfall by establishing a direct link between the app and various charitable organizations. This will ensure the challenges created using Give-Back will always be aimed at charitable causes, said Raitblat.

Give-Back offers points and incentives for users who donate to charity or raise awareness for charitable organizations through social media. Raitblat calls it “the gamification of donating.”

Users log in to Give-Back using Facebook or Twitter. The app’s interface can then be tailored according to personal preference. For example, users with a special interest in the environment will be able to view and learn about causes that address sustainability issues.

Give-Back will feature leader boards where, for example, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University could compete to raise the most money for a single cause in a set amount of time. Raitblat said the app will encourage healthy competition toward a shared, meaningful goal.

“You can see who can give back the most, but in the end, you’re all contributing to the same cause,” she said.

Raitblat views Give-Back as a tool for self-motivation and social competition. She compares the app to gamified fitness devices such as Fitbit, which promote the achievement of personal goals through points and incentives.

She recently pitched her idea at the U of O’s Startup Weekend. Three fellow students, Naglaa Eid, Siddharth Kalia, and Lemuel Barango, decided to join the team upon hearing Raitblat’s pitch.

Barango, who is helping to code the app, says the team worked so well together during the weekend event that they decided to continue developing Give-Back. Barango said he was inspired to join Raitblat’s team because of the app’s charitable motivation.

Raitblat hopes to partner with charitable organizations “all over the board,” starting with local organizations and branching out from there.

Give-Back does not yet have a set release date, but Raitblat predicts the app will be available to the public by early June.