New App From Bono’s ONE To Mobilize Activists

The U2 front man is a cofounder of the charity that is now putting every step of activism–from information to calls to politicians to actual protests–in your pocket.

ONE app

The age of boots-on-the-ground activism has largely been passed over for organizing into Facebook groups and online petitions. And while those things are good ways to motivate people, real world action still works. ONE’s new iPhone app lets you sign petitions, but also makes it easy to do things like call the White House or even helps give you information on how to get out to a real live protest. And–of course–there are plans to gameify everything. Prepare to compete for the title of most involved activist.

ONE is the advocacy organization cofounded by Bono. It has 2.5 million members, and they’re already involved. The week of May 16, callers from ONE were one of the largest blocks of people hitting the White House switchboard, pushing for more funding for childhood vaccines. Now, those users don’t even have to take the trouble of looking up the White House phone number.

The app, built by Radical Media (the folks behind Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown” project), allows users to watch videos and read articles from ONE’s website, and then take actions based on those articles. Is ONE having a campaign to get the U.S. government to forgive developing world debt? You’ll be able to pull up all the relevant facts to convince people how important the issue is, sign a petition at the click of a button (and get your friends to sign, too), or be directed to who to call to formally lodge your opinion. The app even gives you a script, and a place to record how the call went. Now ONE will know more precisely how much its users are pushing policy-makers. And when it’s time to protest, a ONE organizer can send you a push notification telling you to get out on the street and make your voice heard.

Jeff Davidoff, the CMO of ONE, says he expects that within two years, actions from the app are going to outpace actions taken as a result of getting the information from the ONE site. And that could happen even sooner if the game aspects of the app get built out. Imagine knowing that you’ve signed the most petitions in your city or state? Soon, says Davidoff, there will be game mechanics built into the app, allowing users to see just how much of a difference they make.

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About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Ideas section, formerly