Two recent University of Richmond graduates are on a mission to revolutionize the way society donates to charities by challenging the common perception of spare change as useless.
Their method: An app called GiveTide, which is set to launch in October. The app links to the user’s bank account and rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar, creating a virtual pot of spare change that can be donated to various U.S. non-profit organizations with the tap of a finger.
The user can create goals for different non-profits that he or she supports, invite friends to support the same causes, and set a cap on the amount that is collected each week.
“We’ve automated the boring parts and enhanced the fun parts. It reduces the barriers of giving to the bare minimum, both procedurally and financially” Pete Ghiorse, RC’16, who co-founded GiveTide with his brother, James Ghiorse, and his college roommate, Peter Tight, RC’16, said.
Both Tight and Ghiorse acknowledge that they bring different skill sets and experiences to their partnership. Ghiorse studied business administration with a double concentration in Economics and Finance, and Tight majored in philosophy, politics, economics, and law (PPEL) at UR.
But, the inspiration for GiveTide came primarily from their campus involvement outside of the classroom.
While speaking with potential alumni donors at his job with the student call center, Tight realized that many recent graduates of the university are hesitant to give since they doubt their small contribution can make a real difference.
“I got to see first hand the differences between how young alumni interact with philanthropy versus our parents generation,” Tight said. He also said he noted similarities between the university and many non-profits, which are “heavily reliant on older donors.”
“In dollar terms, the majority of giving comes from our older alumni, because most young alumni are not yet in a position to make large gifts,” Kimberly Lebar, UR's director of annual giving, said.
That’s why GiveTide targets the millennial generation, which is less wealthy but more tech-savvy.
“We’re trying to solve a problem like that by getting people to build a habit out of giving into their lifestyle and positively reinforcing the habit,” Tight said.
As the philanthropy chair of his fraternity, Ghiorse oversaw the Derby Days event and introduced Penny Wars as a fundraiser for it.
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“What we realized is that no one has spare change," Ghiorse said. "Instead of putting coins in a jar, people asked if they could Venmo me." Ghiorse sited this as a main inspiration behind his idea for GiveTide.
“The current methods of donating aren’t really efficient, intuitive, or sustainable,” Ghiorse added. “If I can send my friends 10 bucks for Chipotle with a single tap, why can’t I do the same for charity?”
After graduation, the two went their separate ways, as Ghiorse landed a job in Louisiana and Tight worked for an environmental lawyer in Switzerland. But Ghiorse had been working part-time on the development of the app since November of 2016. In June of this year he quit his job and Tight moved back to the states upon realizing the viability of the idea.
Although the idea for the app came after they graduated, Tight and Ghiorse are both able to look back on their time at UR as formative and influential in the creation of GiveTide.
Ghiorse discussed the pair’s different skill sets and praised Richmond as a liberal arts school for bringing together “two people like Peter and I who are very different in the way that we think and the way that we process things.”
Tight said his PPEL major taught him “to think about big societal problems,” and Ghiorse named Doug Bosse’s strategic management class as particularly beneficial to his professional development.
“That class taught me a lot of the core skills that I’m using every day now, like being resourceful, writing concisely, and communicating,” Ghiorse said. “That skillset is something I’ve relied heavily on and I’m thankful to Richmond for that.”
Bosse spoke highly of Ghiorse as a student and team member in his class.
“To be honest, I’m not surprised at all that he’s doing something like this, and I have every confidence that he’s going to be successful with it,” Bosse said. “My hunch is that it will be attractive to a lot of people.”
GiveTide is certainly on its way to being the success that the business professor predicted.
“There really weren’t any apps that were remotely similar when we looked at first, which we were excited about,” Ghiorse said.
But they realized that the lack of potential competition was likely due to the difficulty of getting an app of this kind accepted into the App Store.
“Traditionally, Apple has been very restrictive on charitable apps,” said Ghiorse, citing the necessary limitations and barriers to “the functionality of apps that process donations” as the reason.
After the partners submitted a 25-page appeal that sought to prove GiveTide’s case as a safe, viable and valuable addition to the App Store, it was officially accepted in early September.
In the future, the pair hopes to expand the app to include universities, because they strongly believe in the importance of giving back to one’s alma mater.
This importance was echoed by the Office of Annual Giving.
“We want all young alumni to support Richmond each year, even if their gift is very small. That show of loyalty has a real impact,” Lebar said. “The act of giving is just as important as the amount.”
Ghiorse and Tight use this same emphasis on participation over monetary amount as the core of their business model, and they believe it can change the world.
“We’re trying to empower people to realize that if you just round up your spare change, and your friends round up their spare change... pretty soon you can make a huge difference in the world,” Tight said.
Contact features editor Sara Minnich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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