The call is out for beta users for Raleigh-based Givefinity’s newly launched volunteer-work tracking app. Triangle-based high school students looking to track their volunteer hours will get a premium subscription for free from now until May 31 by using the code “BETAFREE.” (Visit Givefinity’s site to sign up.)
Parents and Givefinity Founders Amy and Kenton Gardinier always raised their daughters with the value of helping others and giving back to the community through volunteering. Luckily, when the daughters started high school, there were a variety of clubs with different volunteering service requirements. But keeping track of all the hours and different sheets of paper could be cumbersome, and losing just one sheet of paper could become a huge headache, Amy said.
That observation inspired the Gardiniers to come up with Givefinity.
“Teens live on their phones,” Amy said. “Their music’s on their phones. Their connections are on their phones. So we said, what would it look like if there was an app where they could track all these hours for different clubs? They already have their phones. They don’t have to worry about leaving that, and then the app could generate a report card for them of the wonderful things that they were doing.”
Givefinity operates on a freemium subscription model. The free version allows users to access the map feature listing volunteer opportunities based on location, an organized calendar to track progress, and to generate activity reports. Meanwhile, the premium-level subscription enables users to get access to unlimited electronic approval signatures from activity advisors and calendar syncing integration via Apple and Google Calendar.
It might be hard for students to remember all of the accomplishments and contributions they’ve made to the community when applying for colleges and scholarships, but with Givefinity’s report, it’s all in one place.
Givefinity started a few years ago under the same premise of inspiring a more generous world, Kenton said. Originally, they wanted to work with organizations to increase volunteering, but after seeing the need to track hours with their own daughters, they pivoted to the app’s current model. In essence, it’s a way to make volunteering easier for students so they don’t have to carry around pen and paper and risk losing their volunteering records.
But the Gardiniers say the app’s uses can go far beyond just high school students. They were inspired by one of their friends who had photographs in his office of all the places he had volunteered around the world, and they thought Givefinity could be another great way to show that.
“We realized that this isn’t just for students,” Kenton said. “It applies to every single volunteer out there.”
So far, Givefinity has a couple hundred users as part of its beta launch and has worked with schools to share the platform and improve it. The team said they waited a bit to launch it properly because volunteering in-person took a hit as Covid cases rose.
“I think the pandemic taught us to be patient, as I think it taught a lot of people,” Amy said. “I think it gave us time with waiting to make sure that we have the best features and the best way to market to our target audiences, so that when we were ready to launch the beta, all our ducks were in a row.”
Amy said they love that Givefinity started out as just an idea at the dinner table and now is an app that is applicable to all volunteers. That can include employees at companies that offer paid time off or other opportunities for volunteering—helping manage that process on all ends—or police officers working in their communities.
“I think that it’s evolved from sitting at the dinner table with our daughters and seeing a need and wanting to help teens,” Amy said, “to seeing this beautiful big picture of creating generosity, not only in our students, but in adults.”
The Gardiniers hope that through Givefinity, more people will be encouraged to give back and in return get so much from the experience of volunteering. Studies have found that volunteering makes you physically healthier, and volunteers report lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.
“We are really focused on not only the practical element of the tool of tracking, reporting, validating, but we’re also really trying to inspire generosity and show people that the benefits are enormous,” Kenton said.
In their startup journey, the Gardiniers have learned to be adaptable and flexible, they said. They also realized the importance of not going it alone, relying on the other to balance each other out. In the Triangle, too, there are so many willing to share their own startup stories and provide mentorship to those just starting out.
“Look outside, whether it’s a mentor or someone else that’s been in these shoes, good and bad,” Kenton said. “You learn more from failures than you do from successes.”
The Gardiniers see their mission as not necessarily a grandiose feat but instead as inspiring one individual at a time to volunteer in their community, ultimately building a community of generosity.
“Teens gain valuable experiences and see the value of serving, and that carries into their lifetime and into adulthood that they’re constantly giving back,” Amy said. “I think if we all gave back, it’s going to make the world a much better place in the long run.”