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Last Update: February 7, 2014

Benevolent brings dignity and self-determination to both sides of the giving equation, transforming the way we give and get support.

Benevolent’s scalable digital platform breaks new ground by facilitating direct one-to-one giving within the security of a trusted validation process. Benevolent makes it simple for individual givers to be transformative donors, when their contribution makes a great difference in the life and prospects of a low-income adult seeking to overcome a hurdle.

Nonprofits lack funds to help their clients when they come upon one-time needs like car repair to get to work, a uniform to work as a banquet waiter or a security deposit. These gaps in our safety net hold people back, keep nonprofits from success in helping their clients, and cost families and safety net systems thousands as a result of longer-term dependence and backsliding.

Potential givers seek ways to give that feel impactful and transparent, wanting to help people they can see and hear with assurance that the needs are valid and their giving has an impact.

Through Benevolent, adults living on very low incomes can outline their own needs in narrative and video. Each need is validated by a professional at a vetted local nonprofit with an ongoing relationship to the person seeking help. Donors select a person to help and an amount to give. In a transparent process, the validating nonprofits receive and manage donated funds and report outcomes. It's a win-win-win.

Type: hybrid

The Problem

In the U.S., our economic disparities result in impossible circumstances for low-income families and in lack of the possibility of mobility for parents and their children. For many, the next step towards personal and family sustainability can hinge one instance of need (money for a uniform, for car repair, for certification classes). When these needs go unmet, the result is tens of thousands of dollars in expenses to our social safety net and immense setbacks for the family. How can people access the items that will move them forward towards their personal goals when their safety net of family, nonprofits, community and church can’t help? On the flip side, a need exists that perfectly complements these one-time needs of low-income adults. There are millions of potential small-dollar donors who don’t give. They don’t believe their gifts can make a difference and they can’t relate to the impact giving at a low level might make. We know that people are almost twice as willing to give when they are presented with the story of and details about one person’s need. How can those who can give find out about individuals with game-changing needs? How would they know the requests are valid and that the money goes where it should? How can they join with a handful of others to share the cost of funding this one need and know they’ve done something real to help?

The Solution

Benevolent is breaking new ground by fostering a direct giving relationship from one person to another with the security of a trusted validation process and closely-managed fund distribution and reporting. We do this through a transparent crowd-giving model. Benevolent is a platform where adults living on very low incomes can post their own stories in narrative and video, outlining their one-time, catalytic needs. Each person’s need is validated by a professional at a community nonprofit who has an ongoing relationship to the person seeking help. Our partner nonprofits have been vetted and selected by Benevolent. Donors choose a need to fund and contribute any amount they choose through the site. If we successfully raise the funds needed, the validating nonprofits receive the support as a grant and take care of fulfilling the need for their client and reporting back to Benevolent and to the donors. By transforming the way we give and receive support from one another, Benevolent meets needs currently unmet by our safety net and helps individuals reach their goals and sustain their progress, nonprofits better serve their clients, donors give in a way that feels connected and meaningful, and communities save thousands on emergency and social supports.


Here’s an example of one need met by Benevolent and our donors: 1) Benevolent vets, then forms a partnership with Family Focus, a nonprofit with family support and education centers across the Chicago area. 2) Alejandra’s husband abruptly left her and their two small kids. She knows what she needs to support the family - a sewing machine which costs $970. Patricia, who works at Family Focus, has known Alejandra for a year and tells her about Benevolent, suggesting that they use Benevolent as a resource to seek help. 3) Alejandra tells her own story and with Patricia’s help, records a personal video, speaking for about a minute about her goals and the challenge before her. 4) Patricia writes her own statement verifying Alejandra’s need and records her own video. 5) Alejandra’s need and video and Patricia’s validation are posted on and highlighted in social media and through the websites of Family Focus and Benevolent’s network. 6) 15 donors choose to fund Alejandra’s need at levels ranging from $25 to $275, and the need is met. 7) The aggregated funds are sent to Family Focus as a grant, and Alejandra’s sewing machine is ordered. 8) Alejandra and Patricia post an update on, telling the community that Alejandra had work waiting for her when the machine arrived, is building her clientele, and will be able to start supporting her family. 9) Hundreds of potential donors see Alejandra’s story over email, on, on Facebook, Twitter, and in the media. They visit and find a need they want to support. To read about individual needs and success stories, visit

Budget: $100,000 - $250,000


Benevolent uniquely integrates social service, online philanthropy, and case-by-case validation in a scalable model designed to improve on other platforms and work together with local providers to meet the needs of low-income adults. Benevolent: • Allows the recipient, not the system, to determine his/her need – distinct from broad-based solutions aimed at the most common challenges and cost-effective solutions for entire populations. • Builds in transparent validation of need and flow of funds that is scalable across cities and communities -- distinct from GiveLocally, ModestNeeds, Kiva and others in both transparency and innovative outsourcing of validation and fulfillment. • Is a two-sided marketplace in which those in need are not expected to attract their own donors – unlike Kickstarter, GiveForward,, and others. • Uses first- person storytelling marked by dignity and pride - distinct from existing platforms and traditional fundraising appeals that play on crisis and despair. • Is most like DonorsChoose, which focuses solely on classroom needs and has been most helpful to us in our development, offering advice, insight, and encouragement.

Get Involved!


Benevolent is is pilot stage in the Chicago area and is seeking funding and partnerships to expand our work into other cities and communities across America.

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Comments & Activity

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Comments & Activity


Megan Kashner profile img
Sat, 07/07/2012 - 13:24

Welcome to Benevolent's ChangeShop. We're pleased that you're exploring and learning about our work and encourage you to take a gander at our public pilot at We've been at it - learning, changing, iterating - just since December 1, 2011. Let us know what you think and how this might be helpful in your home community.

Anuradha kumari profile img
Thu, 08/21/2014 - 05:02

Good written Megan. Thanks for the post.

Harish Kumar profile img
Thu, 08/21/2014 - 09:51

Nice article . Sounds good.

Rajeev Kumar profile img
Thu, 08/21/2014 - 12:46

This is a real platform for digital transformation. Good one.

Jack Smith profile img
Fri, 08/22/2014 - 10:11

Nice project, good one.

Shankari Kumari profile img
Sat, 08/23/2014 - 06:57

Nice platform to learn about digital world. Thanks for the share.

J Thomson profile img
Sun, 08/24/2014 - 02:39

Good one. Thanks for the share.

Michel Lawrence profile img
Sun, 08/24/2014 - 06:10

Sounds good, Thanks for the thought.

Danial Bell profile img
Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:05

I like this project. Good one,.

Panther Anat profile img
Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:47

Security of a trusted validation , good one.

Jaavar Singh profile img
Tue, 08/26/2014 - 09:57

Sounds good. Great post. Thanks for the share.

Kareena D profile img
Tue, 08/26/2014 - 13:22

New article world on Digital.

Flosy D profile img
Wed, 08/27/2014 - 14:25

Cool!, Good post Megan.. I like it.

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