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Brownie Points. Empowering good deeds.

A digital platform inspiring, connecting and empowering nonprofit organisations, businesses and individuals through impactful opportunities.

Photo of Pascale Henke
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Brownie Points, a digital marketplace for good deeds, where nonprofits, companies and individuals connect through impactful volunteering and social change opportunities. Changemakers earn brownie points, a social currency redeemable for over 60 retail and lifestyle rewards, or available to donate to their favourite charity. As a volunteer, it's not easy finding meaningful opportunities close to your heart and home. Many nonprofit organisations (and there are over 193 000 registered in South Africa) lack the skills and resources to achieve their impact goals. And companies are under increasing pressure to prove that they are not just in the money-making business, but that they're in the change-making business too. Over 60% of 10 million employed people are disengaged and want to be engaged more meaningfully. How does it work? 1. Nonprofit organisations and companies create opportunities and campaigns. 2. Changemakers find and engage in opportunities based on their personal preferences i.e. their location, passion, skills and availability. 3. Changemakers provide feedback on their contributions, perceived impact and net happiness score, while nonprofit organisations verify impact outcomes. 4. Changemakers earn brownie points, and redeem or donate them. 5. Nonprofits and companies gain access to extensive impact data.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries include all parties involved in social change initiatives, including: - Nonprofits & their beneficiaries - Nonprofits gain access to a community of volunteers and resources, can track their outcomes and gain greater online awareness. This results in more capacity to increase their reach to serve more beneficiaries better. - Changemakers - Volunteers and other do-gooders, who gain access to meaningful opportunities to make a difference, use and develop their skills, and track and share their good deeds. - Companies - Companies gain access to their own impact dashboard, allowing them to create initiatives, engage their staff and access reports used for better decision-making and increased impact. - Members of underprivileged communities - People who lack opportunities to develop their skills to directly impact their community

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Giving back doesn't just come in the form of volunteering or monetary donations. Brownie Points is the first volunteering and social good platform that facilitates all forms of giving - time, skills, money, goods and networks - while gamifiying and rewarding changemakers with brownie points, a social currency that can be redeemed for over 60 rewards, or donated back to the charity of their choice. Brownie Points believes in a shared value impact model to match social change needs within communities and nonprofits with corporate and individual requirements and goals. And soon, Brownie Points will be the first social good platform to be blockchain-enabled, and leveraging a social good cryptocurrency to focus resources and encourage collaboration towards specific goals (including Sustainable Development Goals), while creating a ‘basic income’ for underprivileged members of the community to have access to the basic needs, including education, health, data and more.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Brownie Points - Uplifting African communities by empowering changemakers through meaningful volunteering opportunities and impact campaigns. -

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

After a disappointing first year at university, I decided to volunteer to feel more empowered, but realised it wasn't easy to find meaningful volunteering opportunities online. I started researching the challenges experienced in the social sector and came up with the idea for a platform that connects all social change agents towards a common goal, while using gamification and a social currency to incentivise volunteering and maximise resources for worthy causes.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is influenced by political uncertainty and a social and economic divide in South Africa - Brownie Points helps bridge the divide by providing inclusive opportunities to people from all backgrounds and faciltate collaboration between the public and private sector. Prosperity has been impacted by lack of economic opportunities - Brownie Points plans to uplift African communities through volunteering opportunities and impact campaigns, based on a tokenised 'basic income' cryptocurrency. Planet has been impacted by a prolonged drought and changing weather patterns, as well as cultural factors with regards to littering and recycling waste - Brownie Points was actively involved in Cape Town's previous water crisis, and is co-hosting Africa's biggest cleanup movement in July 2018.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Partners or Communities: Our major partners include nonprofit organisations (platform users), impact consulting firms and foundations (content creators and referrers), as well as corporations (partners and clients). We have also established relationships with PR & media companies, as well as other startups working in the social innovation space. We interact with all the above regularly to gain insights into the sector, provide engaging content to our community and conduct pilot projects to test and improve our service offering. Examples include: - Nonprofit pilot - Increased participation from community members for a nonprofit organisation servicing an underprivileged community. - Startup pilot - Connecting unemployed youth to volunteering opportunities. - Corporate pilots - Engaging over 180 employees in wrapping Santa Shoeboxes, resulting in 352 Christmas presents for kids; engaging 45 employees during a race, resulting in funds raised for the Gugulethu community

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our community has the following strengths: - Extensive network of different parties and understanding of the sector - Resources - Including human capital (employees and volunteers) and financial (corporate social investment) - Team skills & expertise - Including technical (product development), strategic (business development and vision) and marketing - Technology-enabled - Using a digital platform to maximise scale and impact

Geographic Focus

We provide opportunities across South Africa (cross-Africa pilot under way).

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)


Attachments (1)

Brownie Points Deck (1).pdf

A brief overview of Brownie Points


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jesse Lindsley

Congratulations on the launch of your pilot! I think it's a really cool and worthwhile initiative. I was wondering what were some of the biggest challenges you faced and overcome or are currently facing with your pilot?

Photo of Pascale Henke

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for getting in touch!

The biggest challenges so far have been:
- Communications to volunteers: The majority, especially staff and members from underprivileged communities, often don't have email addresses or access to a computer, so we had to rethink how we engage with them.
- Blockchain: This technology advances rapidly and can be complex to set up. Thus partnering with a blockchain expert was vital for us.
- Cultural barriers: Volunteerism is still seen as an activity that the middle and upper income class get involved in. Often the changemakers who give their time and skills already have enough to be able to do that. We are working with our nonprofit partners located within underserved communities to inspire volunteerism and make it a viable activity to get involved in.

Photo of Jesse Lindsley

Thanks for openly sharing. These all make total sense. I can see how depending on the community/culture, there could be access to technology barriers that affect communication, which you have outlined, but it could also impact the effectiveness of a cryptocurrency reward incentive, right? I wonder if a "robin hood" type approach could be utilized where the middle/upper class are incentivized to volunteer, by accumulating cryptocurrency and then they are also empowered to designate where to donate these funds. There are all kinds of ways to incorporate both cooperative as well as competitive experiences to create urgency and acceleration to meet and exceed fundraising goals as well as fund-receiving goals. There is also the opportunity to empower the receiving organizations to select what they would like to procure with these gifted funds. If you can effectively and efficiently manage this kind of marketplace there could be all sorts of economies of scales on both sides of the supply and demand equation. I understand that this might not completely accomplish your mission of inspiring volunteerism in underserved communities and making it a viable activity to get involved in, which I think is important, but this way could create a sustainable runway to accomplish this goal.

Photo of Pascale Henke

Hey Jesse!

I am loving this conversation by the way!

Exactly Jesse! The robin hood principle is exactly what we've identified as a strong way forward. Most individuals already engaging in volunteerism are motivated intrinsically, instead of extrinsically, which means they'll be more motivated if the "reward" goes back to the organisation/community they are helping or another charity/group of beneficiaries of their choice.

The other use case, of course, is encouraging an ethos of volunteerism within communities. Imagine a scenario, where un(der)employed can get involved in impact opportunities in their communities and build livelihoods at the same time.