Giving Back


Most news aggregators harvest the internet for topics you are interested in, and most of the time it's the same topic covered in ten different ways or just regurgitated from the original source with a new introduction. What I have found lacking is a source for charitable, ecological and social causes until now, because there is Giveback.net and they are working to fill that void online.

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A good friend of mine Dave Allen alerted me to Giveback.net, a aggregator of social causes. I contacted Laura Shape of Giveback.net and handed her three questions for the group at Giveback.net to answer:

1. From President Obama's Inaugural Speech: What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

How does Giveback inspire users to be responsible?

We believe that we all take responsibility for many things in our lives, but that many of us are unsure of how to tackle large problems, like poverty, hunger, or homelessness. If we're approached by a homeless person for money, or read an article about the rise in homelessness, we feel the inspiration to take action and help. We may give the person a handout, or discuss the article with others, but the core issue remains unsolved. Faced with our own day to day responsibilities and concerns, we lose the spark of inspiration and move on to other things, until we, perhaps, encounter another homeless person or read another article. Then the cycle repeats.

We believe Obama is calling on us, in his speech, to maintain responsibility for those less fortunate than ourselves, for our environment, and for all large, pressing issues. Giveback's philosopy is that anyone can cause change with small, individual actions, if enough people are willing to take those actions. Our goal is to give people better, easier access to practical, actionable steps that they can take to make a difference. For instance, if a person is inspired to act by reading a news story, we think that the faster and easier we can make it for that person to find out how to take relevant action, the more likely they will be to actually do something.

2. How will you increase awareness of Giveback?

One of the ideas for this we're really excited about, and that we're currently working on, is some technology that would allow us to work directly with news sites and blogs. It will allow us to display relevant actions right alongside the news articles on those sites to engage a broader range of people than those who would normally come to the Giveback.net website. We're hoping to start showing that prototype around to smaller, news-related blog websites, in the next few months.

3. Why is Giveback a for profit business model as opposed to a non-profit?

The main reason for this was that we found the rules around non-profits too limiting. For instance, being a non-profit wouldn't allow us to list any political actions. We can't ignore that for a lot of large-scale change to occur, there often have to be changes in public policy. So, rather than limit ourselves from the very beginning, we're choosing to go the for-profit company route. However, we view ourselves as sort of a third type of business - we call ourselves a "for-change" company. So, while our goal is definitely to create a financially self-sustaining business, all of our decisions are based around what will make the biggest impact in the world, rather than what will make the biggest impact to our bottom line.

We are currently actively seeking investors, developers, and supporters.

Thank you Laura and to everyone at Giveback.net .

Photo Credit: Paynie
Photo: photo left to right: Shehnaz Bhujwala, Claire Thompson, Laura Shape, Shamal Ranasinghe, Rylan Peery, Darin McFayden (FreQ Nasty), (not included are Matthew Barnicle and Chris Wiedmann).

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