Natalia's Elbi App: Why Good Is The New Cool

Launched by philanthropist and supermodel Natalia Vodianova during the Clinton Global Initiative last autumn, Elbi is a micro-philanthropy app that connects people with charities and enables them to do good as a daily part of their digital lifestyle.

Natalie, 34, is not new to philanthropy. She started her Naked Heart Foundation in 2004 in response to the trauma she witnessed among children in her native Russia who had survived the Beslan School siege. The charity provides quality play environments for children in urban Russia and fosters the integration of children with special needs to mainstream facilities. To date, the foundation has built 137 play parks in Russia - and globally has raised more than €30 million for charity.

"Eleven years with Naked Heart Foundation has taught me that small actions can make a big difference. So often these stories are lost”, Natalia says.

The app isn’t guilt-based, like so many other charity initiatives, and it lets users engage with charities in a far richer way than just sending money. One can donate as little as £1 with the Love Button to registered children's charities; or draw or write something and that goes directly to the beneficiary so you can engage with them.

For example, users can draw a picture to cheer up a sick child in a hospital or create content for classrooms in small, remote villages.

Elbi Founders Natalia Vodianova and Timon Afinsky / Photo: JP Yim / Getty

Elbi Founders Natalia Vodianova and Timon Afinsky / Photo: JP Yim / Getty

The app currently allows users to donate to a number of UK-registered charities including Save the Children International, Walkabout Foundation, Blue Skye Thinking, and several others.

One unique charity to note is Village By Village, which recently built a new school in Abenta, a rural Ghanaian village. Prior, the school was run-down and there was less-than-adequate sanitation. Now there are two primary school blocks, a well, a kindergarten block, a toilet block, scholarships and more, according to Huffington Post. Elbi users can engage with the children and support their learning, by using the platform to draw a letter of the alphabet to decorate the walls or they can send a photo for the children to draw from, with new pencils funded by users. Below, Kwadwo uses the Elbi alphabet to learn his ABC.

Natalia co-founded the platform with fellow Russian and friend Timon Afinsky, who has worked with her at Naked Heart. The impressive Advisory Board includes Bebo cofounder Michael Birch, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Antoine Arnault, Diane von Furstenberg, founder of Mind Candy Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Brent Hoberman, Huffington Post cofounder Arianna Huffington, as well as the founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, Chris Meledandri.

In an age where technology is largely promoting self-promotion and self-involvement, Natalia’s Elbi is a powerful and revolutionary way to start doing for others. “Good is the new cool” Natalia says, and we hope this sentiment catches on.

Elbi is free to download on the app store now, and it takes seconds to register. They won’t ask for your credit card details unless you wish to donate.