December 4, 2020
Use this app to donate money to a cause, even if you're on a budget

Use this app to donate money to a cause, even if you’re on a budget


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Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Tech for a Better World, stories about the diverse teams creating products, apps and services to improve our lives and society.

As the coronavirus spread throughout the US this year, donations to help fight the virus and those affected by it steadily ticked up, through both larger organizations and platforms like GoFundMe. But 13-year-old developer Adrit Rao noticed a problem: You can only donate to causes you care about if you can afford to do so — and if you’re old enough. 

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Inspired by platforms like YouTube that generate revenue from ads, Rao created an iOS and web app called AdACause, which lets users watch video ads and direct the ad dollars generated to the cause or charity of their choice. 

“I strongly believe that money and age should not be a barrier stopping people from giving to causes they believe in,” Rao said. “It’s using ads to make a difference, not to make money.” 

Read more: Europe saves 100,000 meals per day with one app. Here’s how it could work in the US

With AdACause, users can create their own causes to donate to, or donate to those suggested by other users. The app also lists certified charities by using GlobalGiving and Charity Navigator APIs, which evaluate nonprofits and charities across the US — giving users peace of mind that their ad dollars are going to a legitimate source. 

When you watch ads on the platform, you earn AdACoin currency. At the end of each month, the revenue earned through the ads (minus a 5% administrative fee) will go to the charities and causes you selected. If you want to, you can also donate to those causes through the platform with a credit card. 

Rao started learning MIT’s game coding program Scratch in the third grade during lunch with his friends, and by fifth grade had moved on to Python. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic quarantine in March, he began learning app development, and started his own nonprofit called Aretech to try to make a difference through technology. 

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Thirteen-year-old developer Adrit Rao created the AdACause app to help people make charitable donations, no matter their age or budget.


Adrit Rao

With his app ShopQuik, which uses crowdsourced data to give people the current wait time at their local grocery store to avoid crowds, he became the youngest winner of Apple’s Swift Student Challenge in June. He now has three apps in the App Store, and is in the process of developing two more that aim to help people during the pandemic. One helps kids track service hours, and another helps people maintain social distancing. 

AdACause is currently in the testing phase, and Rao expects that it will be in the App Store soon. He also said he plans to run a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to develop an Android app to reach more people worldwide. In the meantime, you can vote for the app in a United Nations-sponsored entrepreneurship competition until Friday, Oct. 30. 

“I really hope AdACause will make a difference because it removes the barrier of money and depends solely on the number of users and their passion for making a difference by supporting causes or charities they believe in,” Rao said. “I hope that a lot of people will use it and help to achieve social impact on a global scale.” 

If you’d like to learn to code, you can check out these online courses for beginners.


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