Imagine that with one tap on their mobile phone, an attendee of an environmental conference could sign a petition to protect U.S. public lands. With another tap, an attendee of an education conference could call on politicians to increase education funding in impoverished neighborhoods. And for doing so, they’d be rewarded with tickets to sporting and entertainment events. There’s an app for that.
The Global Citizen app, launched in 2016 for mobile devices after existing only as a website since the organization’s inception in 2012, empowers users to take social and political action by just barely lifting a finger. Here’s how it works: Though Global Citizen started as activism platform through which users could help the organization’s mission of ending extreme poverty by 2030, it has since expanded to allow users to participate on a number of issues, such as hunger, innovation, women’s rights, education, and more. After selecting which causes they care about most in the app, users called “Global Citizens” are given prompts to sign petitions, tweet messages, and call local legislators about the issues closest to them by just tapping on their screens.
“We want to create tools as part of our social action platform that reach our audience where they are,” Rachel Moreno, Global Citizen’s marketing director said. “Our app really kind of allows for this easy consumption of content and actions and learning about the issues, and where people can enter into the rewards that are available in their hometown. We think that that is incentive model is sort of at the core of what we do and it is the way to continue and to foster ongoing engagement and activism. We want to make sure that we’re rewarding people for being part of the movement and making change.”
Global Citizens who remain engaged throughout the year can enter a lottery to win tickets to the app-user exclusive big event, the Global Citizen Festival, held annually in New York City. On Sept. 23, 2017, 60,000 people gathered at the sixth annual Global Citizen Festival to see headliners such as Stevie Wonder, Green Day, and the Lumineers perform on Central Park’s Great Lawn. In the two months leading up to the event, broadcast by MSNBC, Global Citizens completed 1.6 million actions through the app that led to $3.2 billion worth of commitments from governments and corporations worldwide to aid in economic empowerment, HIV/AIDS research, and famine.
“Probably over 40 percent of people who engaged with the app to win tickets the festival immediately engaged with other issues and entering into rewards that were outside of the festival campaign,” Moreno said.
While Global Citizen is a bipartisan organization, Moreno says the past year’s political climate, combined with the launch of the app, has given Global Citizen an uptick in engagement. “I think that’s in part due to this renewed desire of this generation not to be apathetic and rather want to work together to be more engaged with the world,” Moreno said. But the app’s success also relies on what everything in the events industry depends on — continued communication even post-event.
“The rewards program — that is our 365-days-a-year way of keeping people active,” Moreno said. “There are tickets to shows like Pearl Jam and The Weeknd, and we use this as a way to not just talk to new audiences, but to continue to engage our existing base by rewarding the actions that they take and their engagement with the world.”