Charity begins in my pocket

Now that my son is grown, married, living in another part of the country, and busy with his own complicated set of life challenges, we don’t get as much time to talk. So, when we occasionally do, it’s important to cover only what’s critical. I’m sure we’ll get to that someday. Meanwhile, in the few times we connect, the conversational flow channels toward old territory: we play an abbreviated version of the game “An App For That.”

Since the advent of Smartphones, nothing has stimulated as much passion within our extended family as devising the TED-esque talking points about a newly-imagined app. Don’t judge us too soon. An app can be devised for any purpose, no matter how redundant or ludicrous. And often with added impetus of alcohol and ignorance.  Thus, anyone can qualify to play.  Even those in the US Congress might, should they develop a technology vocabulary sufficient for the task. And can pare down to one cohesive thought expressed simply and effectively. Never mind.

I clearly remember several apps proposed by Team Red or Team Blue during AAFT nights of yore. Alas, none had commercial viability and most had potential legal or ethical ramifications that effectively dashed any other hopes. Much like the real-world ridiculousness of such outlandish premises as drone deliveries or 5G wireless.

Also, like the hype surrounding such ‘advanced technology’, there are few meaningful rules in AAFT gameplay:

  1.  Further research is forbidden. It is always presumed that there are numerous apps already available for download that touch on (or completely obviate) our own proposals. It’s the proposal that matters, not the potential. Just like VC funding.
  2.  Each team’s app evangelist is given 5 minutes to summarize his/her thoughts. After all proposals are completed, the Round of Refute begins. This has neither a time limit nor any other constraints. Disbelief and disregard often combine in profane fits of merciless rant-itude. Which sometimes later get forgiven.
  3.  It is logical that over the course of several sessions, repeats will occur. This is natural and indefensible and therefore makes the Round of Refute richer by far.
  4.  Lastly – and this is key – no one writes anything down. Banish the thought of riches had you dared them. It is tacitly acknowledged by every player that pooling funds for lottery tickets has a higher likelihood of success than building an app for anything. We’re in the age of Instagram Influencers – not Angry Bird entrepreneurs.

Rules, though, are meant to be broken. One particular proposal has stuck with me. So I hereby offer to stick it to you as well. The basic premise: there aren’t enough apps for charitable giving that relate well enough to the human condition to make serious money. Right? Ignoring porn and gambling for now… right?

Yes – it’s true that on Facebook we can invite our friends to give nominal sums to a charity of our choice as part of a birthday celebration. There are also apps that inspire fundraising in many other directions. But the backstories of beneficiaries can sometimes seem either frivolous or insincere. What I am proposing (again) is an app that makes charitable giving easier and more effective by responding to a need we all share. Again, ignoring porn and gambling.

Before I post the description of an app – the one true solution that fulfills this obvious need so perfectly that the world as we now know it cannot hope to remain the same – I ask you to comment with your own ideas just in case I’ve missed something that’s out there and already making more of a difference than my admittedly limited research suggests. Or is simply worth noting as an alternative to selfishness. Until next time….

About Toby Bell

Toby has over 25 years of leadership experience in technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. He's managed people, products, projects, and profits equally well. His work history ranges from marketing and communications to software design and development to global consulting to technology research and analysis to business leadership. He has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker for Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, and their clients. Toby Bell has spent over 30 years as a global technology executive with experience ranging across enterprise technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. His perspectives about idealizing the interplay between people and emerging content, analytics, and process technologies stem from a balanced career as an enterprise end-user, industry analyst, and vendor in this evolving marketplace. Toby has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker on behalf of Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, IBM, AIIM, and their respective clients.
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