14 May. 2019 | Comments (0)
The nonprofit sector is no stranger to disruptive technology (think TechSoup Global or Code for America). As new platforms emerge to provide innovative solutions, companies are often important partners, providing resources, endorsement, and exposure to help solutions scale. A partnership between two Atlanta-based organizations, Georgia Power and Purposity, which connects people in need with those who want to help through an app, is a recent example.
Purposity—a portmanteau of “purpose” and “generosity”—launched in 2018. Teachers and social workers in local school systems or communities identify needs and the app spreads the word to individuals nearby who are willing to help. App users can simply purchase the need—for example, fresh food for a struggling single mother or a pair of shoes for a homeless person—through the app and it is ordered and fulfilled by the Purposity team. The app is operational nationwide.
Chris D’Andrea, Manager of Volunteer Services for Georgia Power, was introduced to Purposity by the company’s SVP of Human Resources, Sloane Drake, and the CEO, Paul Bowers. D’Andrea, who admits the company has not used technology effectively in its employee volunteering and engagement work, saw Purposity as a unique opportunity to engage employees in a new way by giving them the chance to help people in their local community. In its 2018 Citizenship Report, Georgia Power said: “The partnership represents the social evolution of the company's longstanding commitment to being ‘a citizen wherever we serve.’”
Sponsorship helps school systems get on board
The Company’s sponsorship allows school systems to sign up for the platform for free. Georgia Power’s engagement with the Georgia School Superintendents Association allowed the platform to be presented to more than 130 systems across the state. Currently there are more than 42 systems and nonprofits using the platform.
The growth in school systems has helped Georgia Power overcome an early challenge in the partnership—many employees not based in Atlanta found when they signed up to Purposity that the needs being identified were predominantly in the city, not their local area. Now, however, employees across the state sign up to the platform and immediately see needs from their local school system.
To date, nearly 400 Georgia Power employees have signed up for Purposity. The company has established a “team” within the app for its employees, allowing it to track participation and the needs that are being met. From January-May 2019, employees had met 386 needs worth $15,000.
D’Andrea sees the partnership evolving in several ways, not least by continuing to get additional school systems signed up. Purposity, meanwhile, is looking at adding functionality that would allow employees to meet needs through payroll deductions and for Georgia Power to be able to match these employee donations. Additionally, there’s an opportunity for D’Andrea to collaborate with Georgia Power’s low-income group, which works with families that struggle to pay their power bill to pair them with agencies that can assist them. Purposity could be a useful platform in expanding this work.