Can an App Foster Altruism in the Local Community?

Two Israeli app creators have claimed to develop the solution to the growing disillusionment with the false pretenses of social media: Angels Nearby. According to the Times of Israel:

Among the tools Angels Nearby employs is a search engine that connects people based on the type of help needed (lifts, loans, housing or feeding newcomers to town, etc.), “trust level” (everyone, Facebook friends only, friends of friends), and location (within 15 minutes travel time, etc.). Users seeking assistance type in the kind of help they need – home, kids, travel, pets, etc., and then their specific need.

Favor recipients can connect with the appropriate people offering assistance, choosing them based on trust level (for example, helpers with higher point ratings are assumed to be more competent and trustworthy; users are expected to use common sense before handing over their address to a helper).

The system operates based mainly on the willingness of the users to answer a call for help. While users earn points by a ratings system, there is no financial reward for those involved. Only active for a few months, the app already has a few thousand users in Israel. But, can an app really become “the go-to resource for community assistance and connection” its creators claim it will be?

The app’s potential really lies in the context of the culture in which it is used. Israelis are famous for being extraordinarily helpful to their neighbors. Aliyah stories are loaded with accounts of relative strangers pitching in to help out wherever needed. Israeli college professors made news earlier this year with their willingness not only to welcome students’ children into the classroom, but to help soothe them during lectures. Is it any wonder that an app geared toward volunteers would quickly garner so many users in a culture geared towards helping others in need?

How would this app fair in your neck of the woods?