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TheStreet Open House

With Smartphones And New Giving Model, Benevolent Helps Those In Need Make Pitch For Help

CHICAGO, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --  Benevolent ( www.benevolent.net) – the nonprofit, tech startup connecting donors and individuals in need – has successfully created an online platform that uses the power of people telling their personal stories to connect with and motivate giving by small-dollar donors ( $5 or more). Donors contribute directly to help one person overcome one challenge.

Prospective donors can read and select from an increasing number of brief and compelling personal stories, accompanied by photos and videos. Founded in Dec. 2011 and based in Evanston, Ill., Benevolent partners with local nonprofits throughout the country who know and validate those facing needs so that donors can be assured that their support is well targeted and well managed. 

"Giving through Benevolent is very different and so much more personal than through other donating experiences," explains Benevolent Founder and CEO Megan Kashner. "Benevolent enables recipients to tell their own stories, and share their updates after their needs are meet – including thanking their donor(s).

"During this consumption-driven holiday season, people can fund a recipient's need in someone else's name as a gift. What a tremendous way to give a unique gift to people who don't need another physical item to worry about returning," Kashner concluded.

Prior to launching Benevolent, Kashner was an executive director of the Taproot Foundation. Benevolent was born from her vision of a new, more personal and direct form of crowd-source giving that could greatly impact and benefit donors, recipients, nonprofits and society. Kashner earned a master of social work degree (MSW) from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Northwestern University. She spoke about philanthropy at the White House in September.

Philanthropic experts praising Benevolent: Mari Kuraishi, co-founder and president of GlobalGiving: "What Benevolent is facilitating – a direct connection between the helper and the helped – has the potential for transforming the experience of philanthropy. A transformative philanthropic experience, in turn, could start a ripple effect of change throughout the nonprofit sector and beyond."

Scott Allard, poverty researcher and author, and associate professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration: "Benevolent helps to weave a connective web of people to fill in critical gaps in the safety net. I think Benevolent has the potential to transform how we think about philanthropy, as well as challenge misconceptions about poverty and need in America."

Benevolent enables donors to identify potential recipients by type of need, the nonprofit partner recommending them on the site, and location (based on their recommending partner).

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