The Scoop: It’s difficult for singles to judge compatibility based on nothing more than a profile pic, a bio, and a few tidbits of texting. Yet that’s pretty much all online daters have to go on before setting up a blind date. The time-consuming inefficiency of this process can discourage online daters from sending more than a few messages to one another — because they just don’t know who they’re talking to. Fortunately, Cove, a new dating app available on iTunes, seeks to engage users by giving them incentives to chat people up. This dating app has set itself apart from traditional dating apps by implementing a system that rewards users for going forward with a conversation and gives them audio and video tools to get to know each other while online. So far, the app has garnered thousands of sign-ups in the US and Canada with plans to expand its audience as word spreads about its groundbreaking setup and charitable mission.

I try to give guys the benefit of the doubt when I’m online dating, so I’ll typically send a reply to even the most mundane and awkward messages. Sometimes my sparsely worded answers send guys into a verbal frenzy. They act as though they’ve been wandering alone in an online dating desert for months and have finally found an oasis of conversation.

Screenshot from Cove

Cove is a dating app that seamlessly moves users from text to video chats.

And maybe many of them have. Statistically speaking, women on dating apps respond significantly less often to messages than men do. Whether that’s because women have higher standards, more security concerns, or less interest in meeting someone, the upshot is that single men on dating sites and apps often find themselves struggling just to find someone to talk to online.

This is a problem a new dating app called Cove seeks to correct by engaging single women in a way that’s never been tried before — using charity as an incentive. The groundbreaking app rewards female members to be more open to exploring their options and to engage in conversation by texts, voice messages, and video dates within the app without giving up personal details. When women engage on the app, they can win points that go toward the profit-sharing model. These points can also be donated directly to a charity of her choice that is integrated in the app.

Many single women in the US and Canada are receptive to this new way of finding a date. So far, over 5,000 women have applied to join the app, and over 1,500 have been accepted as full-fledged members.

Cove is the passion project of the social media gurus at Charly, a Toronto-based tech company focused on pushing boundaries and using cutting-edge communication tools to build one-on-one connections.

“We’ve come at dating from a completely different angle,” said Charles Messow, Founder and CEO of Charly. “We identified the problem of people not being engaged or real with one another online, and we’ve unpacked that and addressed it unapologetically.”

Advancing the Conversation by Gamifying Dating

Cove’s team verifies new profiles through Instagram or LinkedIn to guarantee the authenticity of its members. This usually takes no more than a few minutes. Membership is free for women, and if they are approved, they are eligible to start receiving invitations to “meet in the Cove.” Different engagement in the app can generate points or profit share. This way, even if a female user doesn’t end up meeting somebody special in person as a result of conversation in the app, she knows that using the app is still net positive for a cause close to her heart.

“Women are motivated about the profit share aspect of it, so they feel a part of something bigger, but also motivated that guys have to be selective since there are a limited amount of invites included in monthly memberships,” Charles said. “It does make a difference. And the good part for guys is that if an invitation expires or is rejected, he gets that invitation back.”

Another worthwhile feature on the dating app is the communication system, which escalates text conversations to audio conversations and then to video conversations within a span of seven messages. That means that after sending a total of seven texts to a new crush, you’ll be prompted to leave a voicemail, and then, after seven of those, you’ll be able to send videos. This system enables users to get to know one another more and more as they use the app to chat. It drives conversations forward in a unique and meaningful way.

Although the app is free for women, men must pay a monthly membership. This ups the caliber of guys on the app and ensures they’re serious about meeting someone and making a connection. Charles compared the membership fee to a cover charge.

“We want to make it so if a guy wants the opportunity to meet women on our app, he has to have some skin in the game,” he said. “This makes it real.”

Men on the app have a limited number of chat invites included in the membership plan, so they have to be selective when deciding who to swipe right on. This system makes women feel more confident in the matching process because they know guys aren’t simply inviting everyone to match. When a woman receives an invite on Cove, she knows that person is particularly interested in her.

Charles told us that as a result of Cove’s quality-first approach, the dating app has seen unusually high match percentages and has hosted more active conversations than what a general dating app typically sees. “The early signs look impressive,” he said. “People are very curious about the app and how it works.”

A Network of Dating Experts Supports Singles Online

A 10-person team in Toronto developed, designed, and launched Cove to shake up the online dating scene. The team is practiced at building tech solutions that grab people’s attention and keep them engaged.

Photo of the Cove logo

Cove gives singles access to potential dates as well as dating coaches.

“We’ve created a marketplace for people’s time and attention,” Charles said. “We’ve been polishing our IP for two years and grabbing data — Cove is an offshoot of that experience.”

Cove combines voice communication, video tools, and a social good to re-energize a frustrated and burnt out dating scene. The dating app also pools authoritative dating experts to help users get the most out of the online experience. Cove has partnered with 20+ dating and relationship coaches, including Marina Lavochin, to provide users with support and advice as they navigate the inevitable ups and downs of online dating.

Thanks to Cove’s proactive work, singles can receive valuable dating advice on the same platform they use to find dates. These individual consultations increase the odds of individuals successfully landing a date, which is good for the app’s reputation and user satisfaction.

“We have services on the platform to help singles become better versions of themselves,” Charles said. “Some people need to have that conversation before they can find love.”

Stop Wasting Time & Start Making Deep Connections

Cove is available on iTunes and will be coming out soon on Google Play. The innovative dating app currently has 3.6 stars on iTunes, and its reviews are largely positive. Many young and active daters seem to embrace its message that “traditional dating apps suck” and welcome its inventive solutions.

“Everything has been great so far,” said one member in a review. “Love the concept and the idea that girls don’t have to waste their time swiping.”

“Dating for a cause is giving me a new outlook.” — xoChelsxo, a Cove member

“The sign-up was relatively easy,” Gracie said enthusiastically. “App looks promising. Looking forward to using this and weeding out the flakes.”

A lot of single women heap praise on the charity-based rewards that make them feel good about themselves for online dating. “Finally, women can get something in return for all of our time spent on dating apps,” said a user called xoChelsxo. “I love the option to use my points to donate to charity! Dating for a cause is giving me a new outlook.”

“It has sparked some good debate in terms of how we’re bottling the real into this dating app,” Charles said. “Like everybody else, we saw the problems of online dating — including low engagement — and we addressed that at the source.”

Cove Offers a Solution to Low Engagement on Dating Apps

I’ve chatted with dozens of single guys on dating sites and apps, and I’ve heard a lot of them voice frustration with how it works and how they feel they’re at a disadvantage. These guys typically have to send several messages a day just to get one response. On the other side of the coin, single women often feel overwhelmed by the number of messages or matches in their inbox and have little incentive to spend their valuable time sifting through it all.

Cove aims to solve both problems by encouraging women to send messages and build connections on the platform. The dating app’s charitable system has given singles a chance to stop wasting time on dating apps, meet commitment-oriented people, and advance the conversation in a deliberate and rewarding way.

“It’s the farthest thing you can imagine from a pay-to-chat app,” Charles said. “The objective was to build an experience where women feel happy about receiving app notifications, instead of feeling overwhelmed. It’s profit-sharing with the ones who drive the traffic on Cove, in the spirit of building trust and uncovering chemistry. We live in a time now where trust is scarce, people are in a hurry, and have many distractions in their lives. If we don’t actually engage in conversation, how will we ever know with whom we really connect?”