Benevolent

We dare to ask what could happen if we give parents a platform to raise the funds they need to care and provide for their children.

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Megan Kashner, Benevolent’s Founder & CEO, often describes herself as a “ticked off social worker.” Kashner launched Benevolent out of frustration in seeing low-income families thwarted from their goals of college, housing, job security and more by things as small as a car needing repair, the need for a computer to go to school, or a security deposit to step out of homelessness. Rather than programs that seek to remediate the impact of growing up in a low-income household, Benevolent seeks to help parents lift their families durably out of poverty by supporting them as they strive to reach their goals.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

http://www.benevolent.net

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Illinois

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Evanston

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Michigan

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Charlotte, NC
Chicago, IL
Detroit, MI
East SF Bay, CA
Eldoret, Kenya
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Los Angeles, CA
Nampa, ID
New York, NY
Oakland, CA
Pontiac, MI
Rapid City, SD
San Francisco, CA
Tucson, AZ
Washington, DC

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Financial insecurity is the number one barrier to a child’s wellbeing and future success. hen parents in low income circumstances face even a small hurdle - like bus fare to get to a new job, or a working fridge when they’re newly housed - they often can’t access the funds needed to get past it. When low-income parents stumble on the way to their goals of financial security, their children lose ground.

Benevolent works with local service providers to invite low-income adults to share their stories of striving and invite everyday donors to step in and help.  Benevolent can be used by any helping professional - case manager, teacher, workforce trainer, pastor, early childhood professional -  to support their clients’ goals when local systems and supports can’t. When all someone needs is a few hundred dollars to overcome a simple hurdle, Benevolent makes it happen.

We know with certainty that the impact of poverty on children has long-lasting effects resulting in significant health and educational challenges. By focusing on the barriers and opportunities that crop up along parents’ paths, Benevolent invites everyday givers to step in and be the solution, donating small amounts to help one parent at a time. Eliminating hurdles to employment and education is a crucial strategy to bring families durably out of poverty and towards sustainability. When parent employment and education improve, children’s outcomes improve as a result. Through our work, Benevolent is identifying and bridging gaps in the social safety net that parents face every day, while bringing dignity and self-determination to both sides of the giving equation.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education

Year Founded

2011

Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

When Marie, who works full time while raising her asthmatic son in Chicago, Illinois, couldn’t afford to fix the heat in her car, her case manager at Chicago Children's Advocacy Center stepped in to help. After posting Marie's need on Benevolent, within a few weeks four donors stepped in to contribute $150 for the repairs. When Marie’s case manager had used the donated funds from Benevolent to pay for the car repairs, Marie wrote: “Thank you! I'm very grateful for your donations and we're warm and happy!” More importantly, Marie also wrote: “There is no greater fear for a parent than not being able to efficiently care for, nurture and protect their child.” That says it all.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since our inception, we’ve helped over 750 individuals by raising over $300,000 to support one-time needs. Benevolent’s small-dollar donors havehailed from 49 out of 50 states, and gave an average gift of just $55. We have succeeded in helping all the over 750 people we’ve raised funds for so far reach their own self-determined goals and overcome the barriers that they, themselves, have identified. We fill in the gaps when local services and public and family supports fall short. In today’s systems of group programs and targeted support, often the simplest things go unsupported. When Benevolent’s donors help a mom repair her car to get to work, help a grandmother outfit her home to suddenly take in her grandchildren, help a dad get the welding gear he needs to get a well-paying job, what we’re really doing is stepping in and acting as caring neighbors.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $100k - $250k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Benevolent operates on an extremely lean budget. Because our platform is digital, most of our operations are automated. While 100% of all funds donated through Benevolent go to support individual needs, our caring donors also include voluntary contributions to help support Benevolent’s small budget for our ongoing work. Individual donations support an additional 10% of Benevolent’s expenses, along with foundation and corporate grants.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

By partnering with local nonprofits and providers, Benevolent is the first and only platform that invites givers to meet individual-specific needs with security and transparency. Unlike other agencies limited by funding and program constraints, Benevolent works outside these bounds to help parents reach their self-determined goals to move their families forward. Until real wages for low-income adults rise to living wage levels, parents will continue to expand their definition of family and friends to include Benevolent’s caring strangers who are eager to step in and help someone succeed.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Advocacy work like the Fight For $15, conversations about expansion of EITC, rules about family leave, wage theft controls, and more are essential to addressing the barriers that stand in the way of low income parents. When we give these parents voice, we not only address short-term challenges, we introduce people to one-another across class, race and geographic divides. Benevolent raises up the voices of dignified people whose stories fly in the face of common misconceptions of those in poverty, opening conversations that can end mistrust of the poor and fuel economic progress nationwide.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

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Photo of Charlotte
Team

Really interesting idea! Seems like a great piece of the puzzle to support families in need. I'm curious that this is in start up phase, but available in so many communities. Also curious about how you are identifying families in need, how they are prioritized, and how you are marketing the project.

Photo of Benevolent
Team

Hi Charlotte. So glad to hear you're interested in the work we're doing. Benevolent is either in late start-up or early growth stage, depending how you see it. Since our founding in 2011 we've done a lot of work connecting to local organizations and local providers who really drive our platform by posting needs on behalf of their clients. These local partners--we call them validators--identify individuals and families they serve and post needs on their behalf. We believe that parents and families are the best people to determine what their children and families need in order to move forward. Similarly, we believe that the people working directly with low-income families and individuals are the best people out there to identify and speak in support of those they serve.

Photo of Charlotte
Team

We are opening a family wellness center in the new year. The idea is to combine medical care for kids with healthy lifestyle support for the entire family in a community-based setting. Many of our families will have specific needs. Any chance that we could become a partner?

Photo of Benevolent
Team

Hi Charlotte, Absolutely! Please visit this link to learn how to become a partner: http://www.benevolent.net/postneed/index.html

You can sign up as an individual and start posting needs today. As a reminder, 100% of what you raise goes directly towards supporting your clients' needs.

Photo of Benevolent
Team

Hi Charlotte, Absolutely! Please visit this link to learn how to become a partner: http://www.benevolent.net/postneed/index.html

You can sign up as an individual and start posting needs today. As a reminder, 100% of what you raise goes directly towards supporting your clients' needs.

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