We know we need to speak to each generation in its own language, and that the current crop of philanthropists can be reached more easily with smartphone apps – so why, then, is it so difficult to build social awareness with this bunch?

Well, we forgot a key ingredient: fun. But fortunately, there are options out there reminding us.

Facebook offers games geared toward partnering with and beating friends’ high scores and who among us didn’t get sucked in to Words with Friends or some similar game in recent times?! And do you use Lumosity (brain exercise) or FitBit (to track your steps each day) and use either to measure your progress against friends? Even if not, you either heard of or participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – quite possibly the most viral campaign to grace our social landscape.

All of this adds up to two things – Challenging friends to do fun things works. It encourages even the most slacktivist activist to take action beyond just clicking “like” or sharing a social media post. And the more specific you are, the better.

Enter the Social Challenge Apps

There have been social challenge apps created to meet this need, focused on a variety of verticals:

Challenge Accepted offers social integration and focuses on challenging friends to do something sports or fitness-related or learning a new skill. Certain sub-sections online are entirely fitness-obsessed, and learning something new is admirable, so the app makes sense.

Klash and its kin, Bragster both helped users dare friends to perform various tasks. It appears the blush has faded from this rose though and you won’t see these bragging apps hanging around for long (unless they launch with a less annoying feel).

FightMe is an aggressive challenge app (hence the name, no doubt), with challenges including an anti-fur animal rights campaign with PETA gracing its pages.

And now there’s Challenged, a new app for IOS and Android, that turns social good on it’s well meaning head, by challenging participants to get involved and build excitement in a way that offers the potential for ALS virality. How so? Beyond building on users’ networks to allow them to challenge their friends to take on a task, there’s a definite “Pay it Forward” feel (and tagline). Also:

Some initial adopters are retailers. And that attracts users seeking to win something cool. Hotel Tonight wants to hear about a spontaneous trip and will award ten thousand dollars in travel credit, and Walgreens has issued a challenge for users to create twelve-second beauty tip video (to win beauty products).

It uses an already established influencer network. Because its parent company, Social Bet already has vast network of followers, the calls to action are more likely to get heard and amplified by existing influencers.

Can Challenged turn the slacktivists into actual activists? It has a good chance at beating the odds, as one of its first big challenges was #F-ckCancer, and a current featured challenge is one you’ll likely be hearing about: #BreakingBatten.

It focuses on raising awareness around a neurodegenerative brain disease that’s very rare and has no cure, called Batten Disease. How are folks raising awareness? By breaking things and uploading it to the app hashtagged #BreakingBatten, of course! Watch here.

And who doesn’t find the thought of breaking things while helping little kids compelling? Does it move you? Well there are two little girls depending on your participation, so get to breaking something and hashtagging, friends!

If THAT isn’t enough to get folks moving, nothing will.

*Featured image from curebatten.org.