If Kickstarter and Bumble ever had a love-child, Helpspring might be it. Like the Millennial offspring of GenX parents, Helpspring bears a certain resemblance to these powerful social technologies, but Helpspring’s vibe – and mission – are all its own.
Helpspring is a ground-breaking, grassroots organizing platform that blends the community-building potential of a social network with action-taking accountability of a volunteer management system. In short, it’s Kickstarter for creating social good, and Bumble for creating meaningful relationships among those committed to social good.
Like Bumble, Helpspring will help you meet people. Only Helpspring’s technology is more suitable for helping form a friend network than a romance. (Not that these are mutually exclusive!) Friends you’ll find using Helpspring are not those who, say, share a common interest in Labradoodles, but those seek to seek to make a meaningful impact in their community.
Growing numbers of people are looking for those who share similar values, not just similar interests. My Millennial daughter and son-in-law, Maren and Will, are two of them. Maren and Will recently moved from Denver to Portland, Oregon. They tell me it’s amazing how hard it is to establish a friend network, even in a city of 2M residents! They’ve joined the local kickball league and found a pub favored by fans of their favorite soccer team. While they have met some interesting people this way, they are hungry to meet more people who share their interest in contributing to the greater good of their community, and to invite their current friends into this aspect of their lives.
This hunger for deeper friendship is one reason Maren and Will are excited to see Helpspring move from the development phase into public use. Like me, they envision a day when they’re making weekend plans by scrolling through the Helpspring app deciding between 20+ actions that match their search criteria taking place on Saturday in Portland. The app not only lists the kinds of actions they are interested in, but the anticipated level of participation based on sign-ups, and even who among their friends have signed up for the same actions (at least those who have allowed friends to see them in their privacy settings).
Using Helpspring, Maren and Will look forward to finding people who are as likely to help feed the homeless in a local park on a Saturday as they are to walk their dog in it. And people who are as likely to grab a couple of garbage bags to join others picking up trash along the riverfront, as they are to grab a couple of beers at a local pub. (Not that these activities are mutually exclusive!) They’d also love use Helpspring to join kindred spirits in packing a City Council meeting to advocate for more affordable housing or passage of an environmental sustainability goal.
As much as making new friends is important for Maren and Will, they are just as interested in making a meaningful impact through their time and effort. Fortunately, this is where Helpspring really shines.
Like Kickstarter, Helpspring will help Maren and Will ensure that the impact they hope to make is meaningful because, when they sign up for the action, they are only expected to join it if a minimum threshold of participants is reached. They know it’s one thing to respond to the call to show up at a City Council meeting having no idea who else will be there besides you, and quite another to know that you’ll be helping an organization pack the place.
What Maren and Will do not know is that Helpspring may also help ensure that they each enjoy high marital satisfaction as they grow older together. According to a recent study, married people who report that their partner is involved socially in their community are significantly more likely to also report higher marital satisfaction!
While Helpspring is currently under development, we are looking for beta testers and investors, as well as those who are part of organizations who may benefit from Helpspring bringing volunteers to you. To find out more about these and other opportunities to get involved, click here.
Rev. Eric Elnes, Ph.D is a nationally-recognized UCC minister, interfaith leader, and biblical scholar with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also an award-winning author with four nationally-published books, including Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Spiritual Skeptics (and Other Wanderers), which won “Best Book of 2015” in the category of Christian Living/Spiritual Life.