Brother, this is one easy way to spare a dime.
The new smartphone application SPARE makes all those Seamless orders, bar tabs and brunches go to a good cause by rounding up your dine-out bills to the nearest dollar to support local hunger relief efforts.
Bronx entrepreneur Andra Tomsa, inspired by banking roundup savings programs, founded the iPhone app, which officially launches Sept. 30.
"People go out five to seven times a week sometimes," Tomsa said. "I saw a huge opportunity, and I wanted to try to piggyback off that and feed some social need."
HOW IT WORKS
SPARE is similar to investment portfolio apps like Acorn and Mint. Users log in using their bank information, allowing the app to read their statements and track their food purchases in real time. Users get a push notification every time their purchase is rounded up and what the amount is. "Our effort was to make it seamless and automatic," Tomsa said. "Users wouldn't have to be burdened with remembering to take out their phone and do this. And they get to participate in the fight against hunger without having to dedicate their own resources."
SPARE has three partner beneficiaries, all involved in hunger relief in NYC: Food Bank For New York City, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Rescue Mission. Users choose which one they'd like their donations to go toward. "The heart and the soul of the project is we're trying to close the meal gap in New York," Tomsa said. "As defined by the Food Bank, each year, there are 235 million missing meals in the city. If we can engage just 10% of New Yorkers and round up $6 a month each, we could close that gap in one single year." Every quarter, SPARE will give the proceeds to the organizations.
To further engage people, SPARE features an incentive program in which users can earn free drinks, appetizers and desserts the more times they visit a partner restaurant in a month. "We tried to game-ify the process so it would be more interactive and fun," Tomsa said. "This is meant to be a positive experience -- we're celebrating a solution, and not so much focusing on the problem."