Meet Your Neighbor: ChariPick

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(Special thanks to Stephen Lee of Charipick for sharing his time and insights, and special thanks to Derek Serafin of Motion PR for the introduction)

Matching nonprofit supporters and potential donors/volunteers can be a challenge for any organization. For smaller and medium-sized nonprofits, it can be especially challenging given the size of the organization, challenges in allocating resources and staff, andother concerns. However, a Chicago-area startup named Charipick has risen to meet that challenge...and is the focus this month'sMeet Your Neighbor.

Charipick was started with great intentions: Stephen Lee wanted to focus on "giving back" to the community. With his professional background in hedge fund management, M & A strategic planning, and business development, Stephen wanted to find an appropriate nonprofit - preferably a smaller organization - that would allow him to make an impact by sharing his skills and talents. However, the search for an appropriate nonprofit was a great challenge which needed simplification. Engaging with nonprofit boards was also a challenge - although most recommendations came through word-of-mouth, the process was still needlessly complicated. But Stephen realized what was needed most: a discovery and donation tool that would lead users to curated and trusted non-profits. With their target market increasingly engaging via mobile devices, Stephen and Charipick rose to the challenge.

Charipick (a Chicago-area startup) provides a mobile app for both Android and iOS that allows users to engage in a habit of giving. Users are presented with three different nonprofits in a variety of areas, and have to select one profit for a donation. (Users are asked to donate $1 per day per nonprofit, and every single dollar is incremental for nonprofits). All of the charities featured on Charipick are selected and curated based on three key criteria:

  • Relevance - Charities (with IRS 501c3 status) are selected due to relevance and interest to Charipick's target audience (25 - 35 year olds);
  • Size - Most charities featured in the app have a budget of less than $10 million (and that will decrease over time);
  • Financial Stability - Charipick selections have demonstrated some financial stability and transparency, and meet very stringent criteria.11009169_1578860249044455_4398678107613974202_n

One of the more interesting aspects about the app is that much of the way it was designed was based on research into human behavior. It turns out that, according to science, giving is much more pleasurable than receiving, sparking similar neural responses and feelings that mimic those around food and sex. Even with a minimal donation of $1/day, users are introduced to the idea that giving can be beneficial, and that feeling is continually reinforced. In fact, Charipick's app also allows for greater personal engagement around nonprofits - users can research nonprofits of interest, learning more about their cases. If a Charipick user finds a nonprofit where they would like to volunteer, all they need to do is press a button and provide information - an e-mail is sent to the nonprofit, providing greater volunteer engagement and allowing nonprofits to build their resources with minimal effort.

In short, Charipick is providing a way for users to "graduate" from the app, moving into greater support of a nonprofit....but that's not the only outcome Charipick seeks. As a startup, Charipick has actively built outcomes and impact into the way it interacts with nonprofits. For smaller to midsize nonprofits, registration is a relatively simple 15 second application. If the organization is relevant for Charipick users, it moves onto phase 2, focusing on thinking through how to quantify their impact, from "what does a dollar donation do?" to an overall perception of their mission. Even when individuals donate, Charipick has been proactive in providing documentation - users are provided a month-end e-mail report for tax purposes. Charipick has simplified the process for both nonprofit and supporter alike.

(For those concerned about financial control, Charipick has also built in some safeguards. Although they facilitate the donation process, Charipick transactions are handled through a third party credit card processor which transfers money directly to nonprofits. Charipick is also not a crowdfunding tool - while most crowdfunding tools encourage users to market the crowdfunding project, Charipick flips it around and markets itself as a way for users to find nonprofits.).

Chicago's startup scene - and social entrepreneurship scene - can take pride in Charipick, which is a well-needed mobile app that connects supporters and nonprofits. Find out more about them via their web site, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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