Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 28 seconds

givesourceIn 2014 the Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise $115 million dollars for ALS foundations all over the world (ALS Association). It reiterated how powerful “going viral” could be and how a mere few minutes could change a person’s life. Since then, challenges have popped up all over the internet as a fun way to get people involved in their communities. Among those challenges are Giving Days. While Giving Days have been in existence long before the Ice Bucket Challenge they have become more popular in the last few years with universities, nonprofits, and communities taking part in them.


One such community was Lincoln, Nebraska who held their annual “Give to Lincoln Day” on May 31, 2018. In 24 hours Lincoln received almost 20,000 individual donations which were then matched by companies such as Assurity, FireSpring, Pepsi, and Pinnicle Bank. In total, the community was able to raise $4.6 million dollars for local nonprofit organizations such as Food Bank of Lincoln, People’s City Mission, and Lincoln Literacy. One of the reasons why Lincoln saw so much success this year was the partnership with Givesource. An online giving day platform- Givesource  provided software to host the giving day online for a fraction of the cost Lincoln paid the previous year. 

In Use:

With commercial hosting platforms such as Razoo and Kimbly charging vendors fees to host on their platform many of the donations were going towards paying for the platform as opposed to the nonprofits they were raising money for. Based in Lincoln, Jason Wilkerson the CEO of Firespring was astonished at how much money the community was losing. Thus Givesource was born- a hosting site that was completely open sourced and free for communities to utilize. This would drive the cost of giving day down ensuring that more money was going in the pockets of Lincoln charities. 

Technology Used:

To date, Givesource is the first open sourced Giving Day platform available to communities. Because it is an open sourced software the software code is easily accessible to users to collaborate, improve, and use the software for their own Giving Days. Making sure Givesource was open sourced was important to Wilkerson. It was also crucial that Givesource existed on Amazon Web Services’ cloud to minimize costs and ensure that Giving sites wouldn’t crash due to high traffic demand. Because Giving Days are managed on-line a website crashing is the worst case scenario as the town or institution could potentially lose thousands of dollars in donations.

It is important to note that in order to use Givesource- a community must have an account on Amazon Web Services (AWS). At the time of publication, AWS is offering a Free Usage Tier for 12 months. While it comes with restrictions it gives access to thousands of products from media services, management tools, and application integrations.

Ease of Use:

Givesource’s code is easy for developers and programmers to utilize. If you are looking to use Givesource’s code and are not a programmer you may have difficulties. While it may sound daunting, Givesource does offer free demos to anyone interested in using it. With the demo, comes tricks and tips on how to use the software.

Recap:           

While many commercial hosting sites can be expensive, Givesource is the first open sourced Giving Day platform making it more accessible and significantly less expensive for communities and nonprofit organizations to use. With Givesource users can develop specific code that lets their Giving Day website stand out. They can create leaderboards, change fonts and colors, and make sure that their sponsors are shown clearly on the website. A potential threat of a Giving Day is that the website could go down due to high traffic demand. If this happens a community could lose hundreds of dollars in a matter of minutes. By hosting Givesource on AWS’ cloud service that threat is minimized ensuring that every possible dollar is donated to local charities.

Advantages:

·         Open sourced code keeps the platform at a low cost

·         Accessible by all communities and institutions

·         Hosted on the cloud so the chance of a Giving Day website crashing is minimal

Disadvantages:

·         While it’s easy to get started, a nonprofit may need help with the code. It’s important that users with little programming experience utilize the free demo and reach out to Givesource with any questions.

·         In order to use Givesource, users must have an account with Amazon Web Services

My Opinion:

What started off as a way for Wilkerson to help his community turned into a way to help nonprofits across the country. I think it’s a great example of someone using their skills creatively to help out others. Givesource was not started to make a profit. While it may turn into that down the road, right now the main focus is to open source the code so nonprofits and communities can take advantage of it down the line. If you are a community or institution that is interested in starting a Give Day they should look to Givesource as a viable option before paying for a commercial hosting site.
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