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How to get more people to do more more often to help the world? A few years ago, Mark Rockefeller started pondering that question. Of course, it’s a particularly pertinent matter for Rockefeller, a scion of, yes, that family.
His solution: ThatHelps, an app aimed at helping people easily find opportunities to make a difference by anything from writing a letter to Congress to participating in a beach cleanup. But more than that, it’s also aimed at building communities of like-minded volunteers and potentially going viral in a big way.
“How do you get more people engaged regularly in helping the world as a core lifestyle? That’s the question,” he says. “Our mission is democratizing engagement in helping the world.”
It all started when Rockefeller became a board member and financial backer of Legacy Connect in 2012; the company developed an app that could reward people for taking actions that helped others. Four years later, he took over as CEO. That’s when he saw an opportunity to find a solution to his question of engaging people to be more active in philanthropic causes. The answer, he figured, involved making it a more fun and social activity. For that, he considered analogies in the world of social games. “We looked at some of things they do to get people addicted to doing something, whether it’s a platform like Instagram or a game like Fortnite,” he says. “What makes these behaviors become so compulsive?”
With that in mind, he pinpointed a few important elements to consider. First, “People want to do good,” he says. Also, humans are a social species—and altruism stems from a survival imperative.
At the same time, however, people face a great many challenges to acting on those impulses. And that results in what he calls “a latent demand for helping.” For Rockefeller, those barriers included a lack of a number of things—a trusted brand, infrastructure and tools, available opportunities and easily accessible information.
For example, he saw a big defect at the heart of most nonprofits. In need of donations, they relied on tactics aimed at attracting money, instead of building long-term relationships. That made individuals reluctant to engage, since they felt those groups merely regarded them as ATMs. Also, people couldn’t seamlessly find information they needed to make a decision. “If you want to purchase something, you can easily find out about it,” he says.“But that’s not the case when finding out what can I do to help.” Plus, the whole thing wasn’t social, easy or fun.
His goal: develop an app that could address those barriers.
His company developed an app about two years ago—it’s in an MVP form now—that helps users find events, challenges and the like. They’re organized according to categories, like climate change, tolerance and equality and sustainable development. The company vets all the organizations by reviewing everything from annual reports and other materials to volunteer feedback. People also can build their own networks of followers, thereby increasing their impact, and invite those folks to join them in whatever activity they want to focus on. And they can check out their profile to see who’s joining what, what’s trending and what impact they’re having. “They’re not just writing a check. They’re doing something,” says Rockefeller.
The focus for now is on building the community. Thus, the monetization model is a work in progress. It will include a combination of advertising, sponsorships, premium services and aggregated data and analytics, with insights about trends in users’ interests, according to Rockefeller.
“Our goal is to build a trusted brand through which you can build a community and create impact,” he says. “And the result will be addictive and create sticky users and viral growth.”
May 14, 2019 at 10:44AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs