Spark Change Podcast Episode 8: Mobile Apps for Advocacy

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Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Coordinator

Advocates at Firesteel use our smartphones all the time, and we’re not the only ones! Here are some facts on mobile device usage from the Pew Research Internet Project:

As of January 2014:

  • 90% of American adults have a cell phone
  • 58% of American adults have a smartphone
  • 42% of American adults own a tablet computer

As of May 2013:

  • 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online
  • 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer

With the right apps, smartphones can be great tools for advocacy. On today’s podcast we share some of our favorite apps, as well as a few we’re testing. Here’s the rundown with links:

Apps to connect with elected officials and learn about policy

The Open States app connects users with their state legislators. Image from the App Store.

Sunlight Foundation’s Congress (free – iOS, Android, Windows)

Learn more about your member of Congress, get in touch with them and see what they’re up to. Follow the latest bills, see floor activity and explore votes.

Sunlight Foundation’s Open States (free – iOS)

Provides up-to-date information on what’s happening in your state legislature, from bills being considered and how to contact lawmakers, campaign finance and voting records, plus local news.

Sunlight Foundation’s Ad Hawk (free – iOS, Android)

It’s Shazam for political ads! Identifies information about who is buying political ads using audio fingerprint technology. The app provides valuable contextual information about the candidate, super PAC and issues ads airing on TV and radio.

Soapbox Advocacy Day (free for Soapbox clients – iOS, Android)

Soapbox Consulting firm created this custom app for clients. It provides real-time Capitol Hill schedules and updates, custom messaging for advocacy day meetings, and more.

Push4Reform from (mobile-friendly web app)

Gathers information about members of Congress and their stances on immigration. People who use the app can enter their ZIP code to learn whether their representatives and senators support particular immigration reforms, what their reps have said publicly about the topic and ways to connect with them. also recently launched the Selfies4Reform Android and iOS app, which sends photo postcards to elected officials.

Apps for creating, editing and sharing photos and video

The Wood Camera app gives iOS users the ability to apply effects to their photos, as well as control intensity, brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, hue and more. Image from the App Store.

Wood Camera ($.99 – iOS)

Best-selling photo editor with one-touch Instagram sharing.

Frametastic (basic version free – iPhone; $1.49 – Windows)

Apply effects, frame photos and create video montages to share on Instagram.

Instagram (free – iOS, Android, Windows)

Shoot, edit and share square photos and videos up to 15 seconds long.

Vine (free – iOS, Android, Windows)

Shoot and share six-second looping videos.

iMovie ($4.99 – iOS)

Browse and share video clips. Enhance them with slow motion, fast forward, picture-in-picture, and split-screen effects. Create soundtracks using built-in music and sound effects, songs from iTunes, or your own narration. Publish directly to YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo.

Easy Release ($9.99 – iOS, Android) and Cinema Forms (basic version free – iOS)

Keep lawyers happy with talent release forms.

Apps for cloud storage

The OneDrive app stores your files safely in the cloud, and makes it easy to share photos on Facebook. Image from the App Store.

OneDrive (free, with option to buy expanded storage – iOS, Android, Windows)

Store and share photos, videos, and documents on any device. Start with 7 GB of free storage.

Google Drive (free, with option to buy expanded storage – iOS, Android)

Like One Drive, Google Drive allows you to store and share photos, videos, and documents. Start with 15 GB of free storage.

Dropbox (free, with option to buy expanded storage – iOS, Android, Blackberry)

Another storage and file-sharing option. This one starts you with 2 GB of free storage.

We want to hear from you

What are your favorite apps for advocacy? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!

At Firesteel, we test a lot of new media tools as we advocate for policies that will end homelessness. The purpose of the Spark Change Podcast is to share what we’ve learned, and to help other advocates use these tools. Please let us know what you think of Spark Change so far! Your feedback will help shape future episodes.

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