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Dawn Of The Age Of Apptivism

Dawn of the Age of Apptivism

Between the startup meetups, watching ringside at Venture Capital pitch competitions, and pings about the latest jaw-dropping Series A funding announcements, a reality-check lit up for me in the form of a Facebook post. The refrain read, “The greatest minds of my generation are trying to monetize a click.”

And there it was; in the merger and acquisition frenzy and funding cycles, a moment of truth appeared. Well, it’s more truth than untruth at least.

For every drone dog walking service startup that is looking for a fast exit to Amazon, there’s another face in our tech community that’s less flash and more substance. Peel back the glitz of A.I. shopping assistants and you find storied organizations like Social Venture Partners, who are helping to lead a philanthropic charge throughout the industry.

We’re now witnessing an escalation in tech activism. New apps are being tuned to champion wide sweeping social causes. It’s the dawning of the age of “apptivism.” Here in Washington State, we ’re at ground zero. The following are three locally built apps that offer an antidote to run amok commercialism that’s focused solely on monetizing click after click.


On June 15th, 2017, the Vermouth app was launched by the Seattle startup. Founder Jamien McCullum invoked the term “apptivism” from the get-go. Each download of the social referral app (a digital map of your friends’ favorite places) triggers a dollar donation to Planned Parenthood. The startup will also be donating $50,000 to the nonprofit. McCullum says, “The term apptivism represents the next chapter in corporate social responsibility, supporting issues and causes, powered by technology companies, which share your values.”


The Seattle-based app Spare5 allows you to earn money by performing small tasks. The tasks are relatively easy, like finding the edges of an object to help computers see just like people. The app also allows you to directly donate the money you earn to charity. The ability to donate came from the user base, which requested the functionality. The app provides users the ability to support over 1.5 million charitable organizations, and the appropriately named “Do Good” section has now been active for more than a year.


The web app allows “concerned people [to] directly assist others in need of personal items and social service vital to their survival.” The app launched last year as Seattle declared a state of emergency relating to the homeless crisis. People can donate essentials such as hygiene items, sleeping bags, and clothing at more than a dozen sites around the city. Those in need can use the app to request essentials. The site offers this philanthropic perspective, “As a society, we are only as safe as our most vulnerable members. A leading cause of poverty and suffering is a lack of personal community support, the failing of the social safety-net that keeps us all from falling between the cracks.”

While apptivism is a budding social movement and success is not guaranteed, the Washington tech community is politically and socially primed to embrace the ideal. Joining the movement is just an app download away.


  • Eric Schudiske

    Eric Schudiske is a former TV journalist, PR and social media lead for a global tech company. He is the founder of s2s Public Relations, a new communications firm specializing in moving tech and biotech companies through funding rounds by increasing investor and consumer awareness.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Eric, well said, thank you. As Vermouth app launches we are proud to not only be debuting a resource that can help our users, but also helps the causes they care about. We’re thrilled to be supporting Planned Parenthood, and the lifesaving services they provide to women across our country, by donating $1 for every user who downloads the Vermouth app. Vermouth is also partnering with the Seattle Storm, both of us aligned in our efforts to preserve this critical non profit, and we hope to see you all on July 18th at Key Arena for a rally to kick off this important initiative.

  2. I love hearing about businesses taking action! I wish there were more instances of this but I’m sure it will catch on soon. Thank you, Vermouth for supporting places like Mary’s Place and Planned Parenthoood that help so many people.

  3. It’s exciting to imagine a world in which a concept like apptivism is the rule rather than the exception. There’s so much untapped potential in the tech community to make positive social impact, and it’s exciting to see these startups leading the way. I’d be interested in seeing a followup piece with interviews with the founders explaining their motivations…Jamien’s comment has me intrigued.

  4. Great article. The intersection between tech, startups and social impact has plenty of room to grow, and I’m thrilled to see Seattle starting to own the space. Keep up the good work teams! And Vermouth – looking forward to seeing you hit those milestones.

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