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Givesome app aims to make a charitable connection

Guelph man creates an app that lets people donate small amounts to specific projects and then follow its progress

A made in Guelph app is looking to change the way people give - and think - about charitable donations.

It's called Givesome and is the creation of Jay Whitelaw.

Here's how it works: you download the app and when you log on are presented with a number of certified Canadian charities and a number of specific projects those charities are raising funds for.

You can donate $2, $5 or $10 to a specific project of your choosing and will then receive updates of the project sent to your profile, including photos and videos. Essentially you follow its progress and see its results.

"I wanted to do something that created new givers," says Whitelaw, a former corporate trainer who quit his job to start Givesome, where the corporate slogan is "give a little, see the good."

The app is expected to be available for iOS phones by mid March and for android phones a few weeks later.

Givesome isn't a charity, says Whitelaw, it's a platform that allows people to reap the benefits of giving.

"There is a group of people that donate regularly to charities. I wanted to find out what was keeping that bigger group from giving," Whitelaw said.

What he says he found was that "new givers" want to know all of their donation is going to the cause and also see tangible results from that donation.

Givesome strives to accomplish both those.

"If people can see what good their charitable donations are doing, they will give," he says.

"With Givesome, people never give money to projects that - in a matter of weeks - they won't see the results of. It allows people to connect with the generosity and passion for giving."

Charitable projects on the site will be small to start, with a $500 maximum goal and the campaign can only run for 14 weeks.

As Givesome grows, so will the scope and fundraising amounts.

The beta project Givesome ran was with Pencils For Kids, a charity in Toronto, and helped buy sewing machines for women in Africa.

Givesome vets the charitable organizations and they vet the individual projects.

Many charities have already signed on. To start they are allowed to submit 10 specific projects a year, all of which will be vetted and followed by Givesome.

Every penny of every dollar donated goes to the project, says Whitelaw. The only money that doesn't go to the project would be any credit card fee.

Operationally, Givesome is funded through corporate partners who want to be associated with charitable projects and, often, be part of them.

Whitelaw says he has already signed up 10 corporate founding partners.

He hopes to have 3,500 people signed up in the first two weeks after Givesome goes live in March. After that, he thinks the sky is the limit.

"It's a new generation of giving. I honestly believe we have millions of people" who would be interested in Givesome, he says.

You have to go back 15 years for the genesis of Givesome.

Whitelaw was spending a year teaching in Namibia and befriended a local villager. After seeing how little he had in his home, Whitelaw asked friends back in Canada for donations to help buy the man a mattress and a fridge.

"There was a huge celebration. People were dancing. People were crying. I was crying," Whitelaw says. "It was the first time I had been at the end result of someone's giving.

"I donated to charities. I knew in my head I was doing something good, but never felt it," he says.

Givesome makes that connection.

A similar experience 10 years later solidified his move from the world of corporate training to the world of starting Givesome.

Whitelaw spent an afternoon in Las Vegas during a training convention helping assemble prosthetics for children. It didn't hit home just how meaningful it was until a video at the end of the session showed children receiving those prosthetics he was helping make break down in tears of joy.

"Nine months later I walked out of my job and started Givesome," he says.

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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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