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Triangle Startup Spotlight: Givefinity works to streamline volunteer hour management

HOLLY SPRINGS – The co-founders of Givefinity, a bootstrapped Holly Springs startup, experienced first hand how volunteering both benefits others and can provide personal satisfaction and joy.

That’s part of why they developed the mobile application, now available on the Apple store or Google Play store.

But Amy and Kenton Gardinier—partners in business and in marriage—also launched the mobile app because there’s a huge opportunity to improve how volunteer tracking is managed by high school students and school administrators.

“Tracking volunteer hours requires keeping track of loose pieces of paper and verification slips, or creating their own digital tracking method through Google Docs,” said Kenton Gardinier in an interview with WRAL TechWire.  “These methods are prone to loss, error, and add a significant administrative burden to an otherwise rewarding endeavor.”

And that’s just for students, Kenton said.  For schools, tracking and managing student volunteer hours can take a significant amount of time, up to roughly 8 hours per week, for each club or organization that offers volunteer activities that may be tracked.

Amy & Kenton Gardinier, with their two daughters. (Givefinity image.)

Digitizing, streamlining the process

When Amy and Kenton’s daughter joined Key Club at her high school, and participation in the organization required 20 hours of volunteer service each semester.

To complete the required service and fulfill the obligation, students were handed a paper form, said Amy Gardinier in an interview with WRAL TechWire.

“Over dinner one night, we were talking about how some people lose their forms,” said Amy.  There was already a way for teenagers to track the hours driven as a part of the process to earn a driver’s license, noted Amy.  So, why not volunteer hour tracking?

That dinner conversation occurred in 2020.  Earlier this year, the company released its beta version.  In between, the Gardiniers sought ought to build a mobile app that streamlined and digitized the existing processes.

The Triangle might be a particularly good place to launch a company focused on volunteering, as the region has jumped in the rankings for the strength of its startup ecosystem, and a recent analysis found that North Carolinians volunteer the 15th most of any U.S. state, on average, though ranking as the 17th hardest-working state.

NC ranks 17th for hard work, but we’re not lazy, says Meredith economist


Learning along the way

Initially, the product relied on a paid subscription model.  Even after testing, building the interface, and more testing, the business model relied on a subscription model.

But that changed during the beta period, said Kenton.

“We now offer a “Forever Free” plan for all individual users,” said Kenton.  Now, though, the company provides an enterprise-level plan to organizational leaders, and that paid subscription includes an administrative dashboard, enhanced reporting and enhanced analytics.

“Givefinity makes tracking volunteer hours easy, allowing users to track, validate, and report on volunteer activities within a mobile app,” said Kenton.

Here’s how it works: After downloading the application and logging in to the platform, users may set an overall goal for volunteer hours.  An easy-to-access button allows users to track their volunteer activities in real time, and each entry can be designated or assigned to volunteer goals or initiatives, said Kenton.

And the app now provides users an option to seek and store supervisory signatures, when required, often a hurdle in documentation required for students, said Kenton.

Throughout a user’s activity, they’ll also be able to access a dashboard that tracks against preset goals, the organizations at which a user has volunteered, and other interests and skills.

And that can benefit students beyond meeting their volunteer requirements, said Kenton.  “The reporting functionality available within Givefinity provides valuable insights that help students articulate what they’ve learned and experienced while volunteering, which they can then use to help differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage for scholarships and college admissions.”

Givefinity image

What’s next

There are already “many” high school students using the application, said Amy.

And now the company is beginning to grow, she said.  “We have talked to non-profits that are interested in using the app to track their volunteer hours which is helpful for them to secure funding from grants,” said Amy.  “In addition, many corporations are trying to encourage their employees to give back and are interested in using Givefiity to track it, as well.”

The company, which has been bootstrapped from that dinner conversation, is currently applying for grant funding and has begun to pursue raising capital, said Kenton.

“We wanted to get the product out the door first before seeking funding,” said Kenton.  “Now that we have validated the concept we are ready to start gathering funds.”

But the Gardiniers are hoping for something more, as well.

“Our hope is that Givefinity will make it easier for people to volunteer as well as help them to better understand the importance of and impact they can have around them,” said Amy.

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