The New Age of Community and Giving

By Priya Kothari

A little while back, I hosted a party at home for a few friends. Some knew each other, others didn’t. But that evening, they came together to form a community with a shared cause.

In that intimate setting of my front room, I had invited one of those friends, Meghan Freebeck, to say a few words. She’s the founder of Simply the Basics, the country’s first large-scale hygiene bank. When she spoke, she took us on the very personal journey of how she came to create this organization.


Fireside chat with Meghan

Meghan’s Impressions of San Francisco Homelessness

First, seeing the scale of homelessness in San Francisco for the first time, and the frustration that created inside of her. Next, feeling compelled to do something about it, knowing that she had the drive. Finally, landing on a solution to provide people with their basic needs so they could concentrate on achieving bigger goals. That solution includes hygiene kits.  She delivers these to partner organizations who work with affected populations, so that those partners can spend their time actually helping their clients get the services they need, like getting them off the streets, rather than trying to source hygiene products. We ended by putting together over 100 hygiene kits, complete with handwritten notes from each of us to recipients of the kits.

In a few short hours, we collectively understood the human experience of going without basic hygiene, we participated in service and we had formed a community, brought together by the journey that we had all been on together that evening. Since then, many of those friends have contacted Meghan to ask if they can volunteer again with her or donate to her organization.

Participatory Giving

This is the future of giving. Experiencing what an organization has to offer and understanding the impact your participation has first-hand. It is no longer sufficient to provide donors with reams of literature about a nonprofit’s service or to wheel out a case study of a successful client. The Millennial donor wants something different. A lived experience.

But where to give, either your time or your money, can lead to an overwhelming set of choices. Do you give to a small organization, where you can quickly become deeply involved or do you give to a large organization, that may have the scale to have a more meaningful impact? Do you sign up to volunteer by yourself or would it be less intimidating if you go with a friend? Does anyone in your circle know a Meghan who you can talk to directly to see what they’re doing?

Inspiring Community Immersion

That’s where DiveIn can help. DiveIn lets you see what is happening in your local area, find events that are engaging and fun, and enables you to have an impact in your community. For nonprofits, it’s a chance to connect with new and enthusiastic individuals who have the potential to turn into long-term donors and volunteers. DiveIn feels like a smart way to use technology to make it easy to activate people and connect them to great causes.

In 2016, 63 million Americans gave 8 billion hours of volunteering service valued at $193 billion. This year, you can be part of that phenomenal contribution. We invite you to be active and to engage. You have the skills and the energy, and you can make a difference.

The New Age of Community and Giving

Priya Kothari is a consultant economist, working with Bay Area nonprofits on strategy, measurement and evaluating impact.You can follow her on Twitter @priyajkothari.