Inspired Impact Interview with Stephanie Cox

INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.

Stephanie Cox is the Founder and CEO of The Level Market. Follow them on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedinand YouTube and learn more at thelevelmarket.com.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?
In 2017, $31 billion was given online but donors, especially millennials, are concerned about simply giving cash: How was their money used? When? Did it actually help people?

Level Giving (LG), housed within The Level Market, is a product-based crowdfunding platform where people purchase needed relief supplies like blankets and mosquito nets instead of simply giving cash. Nonprofits list their supply needs and donors help fulfill them; like a wedding registry but for humanitarian causes! Donors are able to track their donation from the moment they make it until it’s used by the nonprofit. With Level Giving donors have total transparency and confidence their money is being put to good use.

 

WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Why did we create this crowdfunding platform? First, GoFundMe transformed online giving. But some donors weren’t getting the transparency and impact they wanted their donations to have because of the cash-based donation system, where money flows into a general pot. Second, when disaster after disaster took place in 2017 from Hurricane Harvey to Puerto Rico, there were millions in need of relief supplies and millions of people wanting to help in a concrete, tangible way. As a team working in the humanitarian space, we were rather pissed and felt pretty helpless. The disconnect between the desire to directly help and the ability to do so was frustrating. Third, we know that for nonprofits to run, someone needs to cover expenses like rent, office supplies, and salaries, which is what traditional online giving facilitates. But on the flip side, for missions to be achieved and lives to be saved, someone needs to also cover the cost of relief supplies like mosquito nets, medicines, solar lights, and shelters. Until now, there wasn’t a platform for that.

For team TLM it was a natural evolution to product-based crowdfunding. With our existing e-commerce platform already loaded up with top notch supplies, why not allow nonprofits to post the supplies they determined they need to help people in the form of crowdfunding campaigns? Whether the supplies are for a preparedness program, a development initiative to help those in poverty or for disaster response, Level Giving’s product-based crowdfunding can help get them deployed in a transparent and cost effective way.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
With Level Giving, we are not only making it possible for nonprofits to receive the relief supplies they need (along with helping them work out logistics, which can be prohibitive), we are freeing up their time to focus on achieving their missions. If they don’t have to worry about how to procure and ship the relief supplies they need, they’re able to focus on their program work.

We are also impacting donors. Many donors want to do more than simply give cash. They want to be at the front lines of the recovery work and with Level Giving, they are able to not only purchase needed relief supplies, but they’re also able to track the shipment until it reaches its destination. They then receive an impact report, detailing the impact of the campaign on lives.

We also make an impact on lives. Level Giving enables nonprofits to achieve their missions whether that’s poverty alleviation, sustainable development, or disaster relief. These products save lives and reduce suffering. We track the impact on lives and the sustainable development goal (SDG) impacted.

 

WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
The billions of people affected by poverty, climate change, war, and disaster inspire us. We watched as disaster after disaster happened in 2017. We read the news as we found out that nearly 5,000 people died in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. We know what it takes to save these lives and stem suffering. The relief products have been created already and the nonprofits are standing by to help. Donors, too, are motivated to get involved but they do not have a direct channel to connect them to the work on the ground. Level Giving is that connection and we will not stop until people get the relief supplies they need to survive and thrive.

 

WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We envision a world in which people in need can quickly and easily get the relief supplies they need. For donors, our big dream is that they can come to Level Giving and find the cause dear to them and contribute to that mission in a meaningful way. Ultimately, we want to help nonprofits achieve their missions and save lives. We won’t stop until that happens.

 

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Like any scrappy start up, we are always seeking opportunities to grow and scale. Strategic investments will help us achieve scale faster.

 

WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Our social mission is paramount to everything we do. Ensuring that we do not compromise that mission is probably the biggest challenge we face.

 

WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Don’t ever forget the reason that led you to this place of wanting to make an impact. Use that spark to light up the dark times and keep you motivated.

 

HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
You can go to The Level Market’s website to learn more.

 

 

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