CommuniGift part of Christmas

In Southern California, 410 families were assisted by The Salvation Army via a new online giving platform.

By Kathy Lovin 

As freshmen at the University of North Carolina (UNC), the late night conversations of Thomas Doochin, Taylor Sharp and Jake Bernstein were about giving—specifically, how to revolutionize giving by making it easy and meaningful for those with lots of resources to be matched with those who have few.

Those discussions turned into CommuniGift, an online platform that allows charities to create offline programs online like Adopt-A-Family or product drives. But even more importantly, it gives a family, company or individual the opportunity to make a connection with someone who needs help.

This past Christmas season, The Salvation Army in three locations—Southern California; Wake County, North Carolina; and Central Ohio—used CommuniGift to pair givers with families in need or manage their toy drive online.

In Southern California, 410 families were assisted through CommuniGift by 73 donors who gave $10,350 plus specific items.

To get the system up and running, Doochin, Sharp and Bernstein got advice from business leaders and worked the phones to find an organization willing to give it a try. They found several and said every charity they invited to use CommuniGift taught them something new. According to Doochin, they’re focused on proving their concept and then making it even better.

To use the platform, a charity uploads information about those in its program and a page for the charity is created on the CommuniGift site. Donors can follow the link, create an account and begin searching for people to help using drop-down menus of characteristics that are meaningful to them. The gift items are linked to online retailers, allowing a simple purchase that is shipped to the charity’s location.

Now UNC juniors, Doochin and Sharp said they each grew up in families that engaged in active giving during the holidays and all year long. CommuniGift’s founders—which now include a fourth named Jack Wohlfert—are hoping that their online platform will help people make purposeful connections in a user-friendly, online format.

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