Words by Abi Scaife
How do you save money and give money at the same time? It might seem impossible to all the mathematicians in the room - but they clearly haven’t heard of Give Freely.
A simple browser extension, Give Freely scours the internet for coupons for your favourite store when you go shopping online - but instead of going into someone’s pocket, their commission is donated to the charity of your choice.
Brilliant, right? We think so too!
“When I stepped down [from Tripadvisor] I didn't have an idea of what I wanted to do next,” Steve tells Smiley News. “I put up on my whiteboard a bunch of ideas and found myself gravitating to Give Freely. I find myself more and more intrigued with the opportunity to have an impact.”
Steve had heard about the global movement Giving Tuesday and was inspired by what they have done. From an answer to the commercialisation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday has created a day of impact that is felt around the world every year - and that was something he loved.
“I was awestruck - like wow, that's impact.”
But how do you choose who to donate your money to? We’ve all had that problem before - there are so many charities and organisations that can put your money to good use, it can be difficult to know where best to make a difference.
“There's so many amazing causes and nonprofits out there. As a modest philanthropist, it's very difficult to choose where to support, so I got to thinking a little more systemically,” explains Steve. “What if it wasn't me choosing but everyone coming together?”
When you make an account with Give Freely, you are able to select a charity of your choice from the 1.1 million non-profits already registered there. Currently, the charities are based in the US, but many have a global impact - and when donation ranges usually fall between 1-15%, you are contributing significantly.
Plus, when you sign up, Give Freely will make a FREE $10 donation to your chosen charity, no purchase necessary.
“TripAdvisor had 400 million people - if Give Freely could get 100 million people, that's going to be over a billion dollars a year every year,” says Steve. “And that can do so much good in our world.”
Give Freely also gives charities the opportunity to let supporters know about any campaigns or events they have going on - not through emails but through a direct message on the platform.
“If we can draw 10% of those folks in to be just a little bit more involved, volunteer a little bit or to care a little bit more … magnify that times 100 million people and you now have a lot more personal power that can help whatever the causes that they care the most.”
Give Freely is never going to singlehandedly fund charity work - but it isn’t meant to. The beauty of it is that it is giving additional, supplemental income to charities that are doing incredibly important work, and helping to engage their audience.
“It's not immediately going to generate a million dollars for you next month, but will it generate thousands and then tens of thousands of new folks who aren't in your database?” posits Steve. “Yeah! And then will you be able to turn those into volunteers and real supporters? Well, that's that's up to them, but I want to be the conduit.”
It’s not just the Give Freely team and the stores involved that are enamoured with the concept - it’s the charities, too.
"We are honoured to have been invited to be a part of Give Freely,” said Philli Boyle, a Founding Member of Choose Love, about Give Freely. “We are excited to share the news with our community to give them a new way to help make our work, supporting refugees and displaced people all over the world, possible."
The incredible work put in by Steve, who believes in the power of giving so much that he is personally funding Give Freely, is making a huge difference to charities and non-profits. It just goes to show that spending and giving don’t have to be mutually exclusive - and that the power of the consumer really does matter.
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Global Fashion Agenda. This is a non-profit which is accelerating impact to create a net positive fashion industry. Support them here.
Gendered Intelligence. This charity works to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve the lives of trans people. Learn more here.
Charity: Water. This is a global nonprofit organisation on a mission to end the water crisis by bringing clean and safe water and sanitation programs to all. Learn more here.