App of the Week: Instead
PHOTO: Instead gives you the ability take the money you would have spent on that latte, movie or impulse buy and, instead, donate to your favoriute non-profit.

Image credit: Instead

App Name: Instead

Price: Free

Available Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (requires iOS 5.0 or later), Android

What does this app do? With Black Friday and Cyber Monday bookending the holiday weekend it is hard to imagine getting through the next few days without spending money in the spirit of the season. Whether you dole out your dollars for gifts or in some other way, such as a post-turkey cocktail with friends, likely you will be reaching into your pocket and opening up your wallet at some point. For those who want to donate some of their hard-earned money as opposed to spending it, there's an easy way to give in a small, manageable way.

Instead, a micro-donation app developed by Ovenbits, LLC, gives consumers an opportunity to donate money from their mobile device to their favorite non-profit instead of spending that $20 on lunch or that $3.00 on a latte while out and about with friends.

Once you launch the app, Instead walks you through three steps on how it works: pick something to give up - that second cup of coffee, for example - choose how much to give, and then select a non-profit to which to donate. Tap on the "About" button, select "Donation Transparency," and the app explains exactly how your money is parceled out: 95 percent of your donation goes to the charity you select, and the remaining 5 percent goes to credit and debit processing fees as well as operational fees such as server maintenance and application hosting. Your donation, according to website, goes first to instead, inc, a registered 501(c)3, and from there the company sends a check to your chosen non-profit.

Select the "Give" button, choose the amount you wish to donate, and even type in what you're giving up in place of your donation. The app provides a list of charities to choose from, such as The American Cancer Society. You can also suggest an organization to be added to Instead's database. Submissions are reviewed by a volunteer committee.

Is it easy to set up? This is a lightweight app that allows you to log in with your Facebook account. The app makes a point of stating your donations through Facebook can remain private. However, you can skip that step and proceed without logging into Facebook, too.

Should I try it? Instead encourages you to develop your charitable giving muscle by showing you how easy it is to make small donations from time-to-time by giving up things you likely won't miss anyway. Your payment, in the end, is processed through your browser, not the app itself, and therefore requires an extra step. If you've already sacrificed an impulse buy or gave up splurging on a night out at the movies, however, the hard part is over.

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