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The Giving Room

A digital app that allows employees to send & receive messages of gratitude, give support to one another and serve the community together.

Photo of Noha Mahdi
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The Giving Room is a mobile and desktop application that creates the space for members of an organization to interact in expressions and experiences of gratitude. The application would be built with a simple, easy-to-use interface, and will include a few components:

1. A Gift of Gratitude: 

All members of the organization will be invited to join the application on their mobile phones, desktops or other devices. The "note of gratitude" feature will allow any employee to send a direct "gift" to any other employee at any time. The "gift" can be a message, with a specific format built into the app, encouraging you to express gratitude to anyone, at any time. These messages will have several options and features: 

- Reminders: The organization or individual can set regular reminders asking employees if there was anyone they wanted to send a gift of thanks to, on a regular basis, e.g. weekly. Note: team members who are leading or managing employees can be prompted to send messages of thanks to all the members of their team as a requirement.

- In-person gifts: Someone can choose to give a physical or in-person "gift" outside of the app, but either sender or receiver can take a quick photo, insert the person's name and document the gift on the app. 

- Anonymity: In order to encourage expressions and overcome barriers of fear (initially), the "gift" can be marked as anonymous by the sender. 

- Privacy: The "gift" can be marked by the sender as public or private. If marked as public, the receiver can choose to also mark as public or private. Public messages will appear in the Giving Room Wall (see below). 

- Feedback: The receiver of the gift can rate how the gift made him/her feel, and can choose to send a brief note of thanks or feedback back to the sender. The rating will add up and go back to the sender on a regular interval, helping them feel positive for sharing their gratitude. The feedback can be used to encourage an exchange. E.g. Sarah sends Josh a message saying: "I am grateful to Josh for putting in so much effort into the proposal we completed this week.". Josh can then rate this gift as making him feel "Good", "Great" or "Made my week!", and can respond with a short note saying "Thanks!", or asking: "I'm curious, what part of the proposal did you like best?", continuing the conversation. 

2. Helping-Hand Room:

Giving is a great way to develop positive relationships and emotional connections with the people you're working with. One feature of the app will allow employees to help, serve or support one another in various ways. 

The ideas is for employees to be able to dedicate an hour of their time on a regular basis (amount of time can be pre-set by the team or company) in order to support and help another team member out. Each member will be prompted to request a helping hand with something specific they're working on or struggling with. This request will be posted as part of a list, and those who are scheduled to have an hour that week can select someone to support. 

The support could be emotional, e.g. talking through a company challenge that's creating stress, or task-related, e.g. supporting someone with the 50 phone calls they need to make before the end of the week. This could also be support with something unrelated to work, e.g. looking through the internet for housing for the following year, if it's causing the employee stress. Whether tasks external to the company work are acceptable can be determined by the teams. 

This feature will have to be accompanied with functions that help align calendars around the helping-hand hour, and perhaps around areas of expertise or interest. 

3. Serve Together

In addition to supporting one another, another way to build a sense of gratitude is to help, give and serve others outside of the group. This feature will allow teams to schedule time once every 1, 2, 3 or 4 months to serve the community and work together towards helping others. In working towards alleviating the suffering or meeting the needs of others, the group can share, develop and build their own awareness and gratitude internally as well. 

This feature will allow team members to suggest 1-3 options or opportunities for serving others. They can then be prompted to vote for the one they prefer, and then set aside time, e.g. 4 hours every 3 months, to do the activity together. Activities could be things like volunteering at a soup kitchen, or visiting hospital patients, or sending letters of encouragement to refugee children, etc.

Upon returning from the giving activity, team members can then use the app to share or post their insights from the experience, and the things they're grateful for as a result. Sharing the experience and the insight afterwards will help create a shared culture of gratitude, reflection and openness. 

4. Positivity Prompts

A more static feature of the app can be suggestions and prompts for quick gratitude building and reflection activities that can be inserted into the start of a meeting. Here, teams can find a set of questions, short activities and meditations that can be done between 1 and 10 minutes at the start of a meeting. Sample questions could include: 

- What's one story of someone else's suffering that you came across this week? (Sharing stories or examples of suffering can heighten the group's sense of gratitude)

- What are you having to be patient with this week? (remembering the things others are being patient with reminds you of the things you are able to do or take care of more easily, which can build your gratitude)

- What sight, sound or smell brought you joy this week? (sharing specific moments of pleasure or joy can remind you to be grateful for those moments)

There can also be digital prompts for team members to share positive articles of inspiration, life-lessons, etc. with the group. 

5. Personal Peace

Similar to a gratitude journal, it would be easy to add a simple feature to the app that allows individuals to reflect on and document their own gratitude, using a specific, "tweet"-like format. This personal reflection can be made public or private, and can be done using reminders or spontaneously. 

6. Giving Room Wall

This would be the "wall" where updates and messages and gifts show up. Employees can browse through this wall to see updates and to be inspired by the positive energy that's being shared throughout the organization or team. 

Here, they can see public gifts that were given, public notes of peace and gratitude by individuals, and updates on helping-hand hours or reflections from Giving Together activities. 

The Wall can be setup in such a way that it highlights certain features at regular intervals, or only appears on one day of the week, so that people look forward to the updates. The wall can also be used to share a rating of how the team is doing with an overall "positivity" or "gratitude" score, based on the number of messages / gifts / hours / giving sent and received, and the ratings given to each. 

This space would be a way to encourage a culture that supports and encourages gratitude. Specific "gifts" can also be re-gifted, such that a message of gratitude from person A to B can be echoed by others who agree with the sentiment towards person B.

The concept is simple, but it's the way in which all the ideas come together on single, dedicated and easy to use platform that makes it unique and powerful in shifting organizational culture toward more positivity and gratitude. 

Idea Title

The Giving Room

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

The Giving Room will inspire expressions and experiences of gratitude by providing an easy-to-use platform that nurtures a culture of gratitude, giving and positive exchanges. By enabling team members to quickly and easily message one another with short messages of gratitude, to read through a wall of reflections, to work towards increasing the team's positivity score, etc. it gamifies and creates quick and easy ways for expressions of gratitude. It also helps the team organize short contributions of support to one another, also increasing appreciation and understanding. Finally it encourages teams to give and serve their community and to reflect on and learn from their hardships together.

Who are you innovating for?

Companies, organizations and small teams can all benefit from this idea. The app will simply organize and facilitate the communication process, by being dedicated to expressions of positivity and gratitude, as well as acts of kindness and giving. It can be used by small teams or large organizations, with settings that can be modified or edited to suit each company's structure.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

Ideally, the settings on the app would be such that small teams have their own "rooms", "walls" "helping hand" and "Serve Together" activities. The ideal team size would be between 5 and 25 individuals, but can be expanded to include larger groups. In particular, the more in-person components would be ideal for small groups, but the gift giving and messaging features can easily match any organizational size.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

Ideally, the app would be introduced to a small team within the company first. The teams would first be encouraged to use the gift giving feature on a regular basis, then move on to the helping hands and the serve together features. The team leader (or someone who's super passionate or excited about the idea) would ideally lead the introduction of it, and would set an example by committing to sending gratitude gifts once a week (as an example). One thing that would be helpful in ensuring successful adoption would be having the team leader work with a coach, who will coach and guide the leader in building team engagement with the app.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

There are way too many apps out there, and it's possible that people will be resistant to having another "app" or service that they have to be part of and use. The key to overcoming this would be to make the app simple enough and engaging enough that people enjoy being on there, but that it doesn't require more than a minute of effort to get a message sent using the app. Another obstacle could be scheduling the helping-hand hours throughout the week. Calendar integration may help with that.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Build a simple digital prototype of the app, using app-building software and services. Limit the app to the simplest and core features at first, and test the features out. Collect feedback upon testing and see what needs to be adapted, changed or modified and then continue to build from there, piece by piece. The app's impact can be measured (partially) by the ratings that people give their "gifts" and "experiences" as well as the overall score calculated by number of messages sent + ratings.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

Design and develop app content on paper first Work with developers to develop simple prototype of the app Test the app in small teams, with assistance of coach if possible Observe engagement and collect feedback Make modifications as needed Continue to build and add features The award would be helpful through the funding, but also through the guidance on making sure it's human-centered, useful and innovative. The award will accelerate access to testing, and mentorship will guide growth

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

I've personally always been interested in nurturing healthy, positive, humane interactions between individuals and in teams. I've always wanted to encourage the teams I work with to express more emotion, including gratitude, knowing the positive effects that will have on team cohesion, motivation, etc. Also, I find that sometimes simple, obvious solutions are the most powerful. A recent inspiring example is the "Saraha" app, which is focused on anonymous feedback in general.

Tell us about yourself

Noha Mahdi Founding Director. Founded the organization 1.5 years ago. The organization is focused on creating community-service learning programs and experiences for youth in the UAE, that help them build and develop life skills in the process.

Where are you / your team located?

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Registered as an LLC in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Company / Organization Name

The Mawada Project


Tell us about your experience

I've worked as an education consultant for a few years, with an organization that designs learning programs and experiences. I've also recently ventured to start my own social business, The Mawada Project, focused on nurturing compassion, kindness, giving, tolerance and social responsibility amongst youth in the UAE. I have a background in biochemistry, clinical research, as well as a master's in educational neuroscience. I'm passionate about enabling moments of human connection and compassion.


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Photo of Japhet Aloyce Kalegeya

Good idea, where are planned to implement this idea?

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