Iman Mekonen, Spectrum Editor
In the heart of downtown Richmond is a tall, modern-looking brick office building. In this space, along with other small business startups, is the home of OneGivv, a social media platform designed to bring nonprofits, donors and volunteers closer together.
The company, which was founded in 2017 by former VCU students James Koroma and Lena Bryant, offers tools and resources to track exactly where aid is going by including the nonprofit and donor every step of the way. The program launched three months ago.
Koroma, who is the CEO, founded OneGivv after hearing about the miscommunication during the Ebola crisis in 2017 between the American Red Cross and Sierra Leone.
“No one knew where the money went, so I started doing research trying to find out where the money had gone, or who keeps track or how can $6 million just go missing,” Koroma said. “I couldn’t find anything at all. … I thought to myself that someone had to do something about it. So I just hopped on it.”
Koroma and CFO Bryant felt inspired to do something and understand more about the situation, not only because Koroma’s parents are from Sierra Leone, but also from a donor’s perspective.
“[The money] is not going anywhere and the money is disappearing essentially, and people don’t get a true sense of what’s happening on the ground,” Koroma said. “I understand how much struggle there is for me to know how far a dollar can go or how far $20 can go, but $6 million could’ve really helped. And that just really hurt me.”
Bryant also said the opportunity to join OneGivv came at a time where she needed something positive and uplifting in her life.
“The reason behind why it started was also a reason I was into it, because James and I have been best friends since we were 6,” Bryant said. Just being able to support him in that is just, it’s what every friend would want.”
Through the app and website, people can donate to causes and organizations by being connected directly to the nonprofits they care about. All donations are tracked and sent back in the form of a receipt to use for tax deductions.
There’s also a feature called “my giving,” which ranks profiles within communities.
“Essentially we tried to game-ify it a little bit in terms of how much you give related to your friends and just different things like that,” Koroma said. “You can see your donation amount, how many hours volunteered for the year and how many items given.”
Their app, which launched on Saturday, resembles a social media site with reminders for upcoming projects.
Bryant said charity can have multiple meanings and can come in different forms.
“For me, giving has also been … a thing that we do in my family,” Bryant said. “Not necessarily monetarily, but through food and other stuff.”
OneGivv also offers volunteer opportunities in the Richmond area. When Shradda Adhikari, who is now a marketing strategist for OneGivv, first discovered the platform, it resonated with her. She’s always looked for ways to volunteer but had a hard time finding ‘the one’ group to dedicate her time to.
“OneGivv really allows you to explore your passions through volunteering, through giving and through different acts of kindness,” Adhikari said.
Adhikari graduated in the spring with a degree in bioinformatics and rediscovered her passions for writing and marketing after joining OneGivv.
Formerly known as One Benefactor, OneGivv is looking at the overall picture of giving by being the “all-in-one” source for donors, nonprofits and causes.
“It’s not just giving through a platform but just in general, being able to promote that lifestyle of giving and being able to keep track of that all in one place,” Koroma said. “It’s not so much about our platform or trying to be better than any other platform, it’s just doing good in a different way.”
For more information about OneGivv, visit onegivv.com or @onegivv on Instagram.