You might think that the best way to fight hunger is to donate food or cash to food banks. Mogl, a startup that X Prize founder Peter Diamandis called a possible "missing link in solving the food distribution problem in America," has a different idea.
The latest version of Mogl's app allows users to directly donate money to food banks every time they eat out at participating restaurants. Participants get 10% cash back for dining at Mogl-friendly locations—and then get to choose how much of that money they want to donate. Just 20 cents buys a single meal for the hungry.
"I realized the food and hunger problem had ballooned out of control," says Mogl founder Jon Carder. "Fifty million Americans are meal insecure. A meal insecure person will miss 16 meals each month on average."
Mogl's previous restaurant loyalty model, in place since 2011, featured one-to-one giving, a la Toms shoes: Buy a meal, and one gets donated to the hungry. That worked well, says Carder. "It was a hit, growing 60% a month with over a million transactions. We donated half a million meals," he says. But he still didn't think it was making a big enough impact. Now, Carder hopes that Mogl could be "the largest contributor to food banks." He figures that giving people an option to donate during a meal will be more effective than traditional campaigns to raise funds and food.
Mogl is available in six metro areas (San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Ventura County, Los Angeles, and Orange County). There are thousands of restaurants currently working with the service; from now on, Carder says he'll move into any city where five restaurants and 100 members sign on.
This isn't the only service to offer cash back and donations to do-gooder projects; the Spring, a recently launched app from the Carrotmob team, gives customers 3% cash back and donates 3% of their restaurant bill to a worthy community organization.
"We're trying to align everybody towards a single goal. We chose to focus exclusively on hunger," says Carder. If you want to make a substantial donation to a food bank, though, the easiest way is still to give directly.