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“I saw that while there are some great innovations around monetary donations,including text-to-give and micro-project based fundraising,there was no structure around non-monetary donations or donating of goods and services.”

One of the biggest obstacles non-profits face is making it as easy as possible for people to help. Zealous Good removes all obstacles to giving! Zealous Good is a web platform that connects people that have goods or services to donate to the local non-profits with a matching need. The donation matching results in donors having a simple, efficient way of getting rid of items they no longer need and the donors getting to know exactly who their goods are benefiting and how. For non-profits it results in increased access to in-kind donations and a consistent platform to request donated items.

Brittany Martin Graunke is the founder of Zealous Good. They currently employ 1 full time employee, three interns and 1 free lance developer. Their current website works great as a pilot but they are excited to announce that they are soon launching a new website!

Brittany Martin Graunke, Zealous Good - Founder & CEO

MO: Tell us about the inspiration behind Zealous Good?

Brittany: I like to say that Zealous Good just makes fundamental sense to me. I developed the idea while I was working at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. I saw that while there are some great innovations around monetary donations, including text-to-give and micro-project based fundraising, there was no structure around non-monetary donations or donating of goods and services.

If someone has a TV or art supplies to donate, how do they find out what local charities actually need their donation? There was simply no system or process in place. My inspiration stemmed from my passion for the non-profit sector in conjunction with my business training at Bain & Company and my engineering thought process from Northwestern University. I started working on finding if there was a way to develop a process around in-kind donations and the result was ZealousGood.com.

MO: What is the user experience like on each end? Is it difficult to give or receive using your site?

Brittany: We make it as easy as possible. For the donors, you simply fill out a form about what you would like to donate and we get back to you in 1-2 days with the different organizations near you that could benefit. You select who you want to donate to and are connected directly with that organization.

For a non-profit, you simply sign up to become a member and complete an online profile of your organization details and in-kind needs. When donations come in that match your needs, we notify you of the information and connect you if your organization is selected by the donor.

By design, the process is intended to be simple because we’re combating the alternative of just throwing something out.

MO: How do you utilize social media (Twitter for example) to help your business?

Brittany: We keep an active Twitter account to highlight current happenings with our non-profit members, share fun stories about donation matches made, and disseminate information relevant to the non-profit sector and our community of Chicago.

Our social media campaign really focuses on encouraging donors and non-profits to communicate about their successful matches. It’s a great way of informing their network about the good that they are doing as well as spread the news about how Zealous Good can be used as an easy, yet impactful resource.

One of my favorite things is when someone tweets “I’m moving this weekend – anyone know where I can donate my stuff?” or “Anyone know a great charity who needs professional clothing?” We jump on the opportunity to connect with that person and send them a link to our donate page to provide us with more information. To me that’s such a valuable aspect of Twitter – quick access to information and people who can help with your question.

MO: You mention that you learned WordPress from a WordPress for Dummies book and Google! What skills do you wish you would have known before starting this business?

Brittany: Wow – I would LOVE to be able to write code. In fact, I’m self-teaching myself Ruby on Rails right now. It’s definitely more challenging to build a technical product when you don’t have technical/coding skills but I am fortunate to have great advisors who have helped me to learn.

MO: What has been your greatest accomplishment since starting the website?

Brittany: To be honest (and cheesy), every donation match we make feels like a huge accomplishment.

A few months ago a woman used Zealous Good to donate a crib and baby clothes/necessities to one of our member organizations, Marillac Social Center. It turned out that within a day of donating the items, they were given out to a young mother using Marillac’s services. The woman had just had a baby and was thrilled to receive the items for her new little one. When the donor found out about the recipient of her donations she emailed me to say she was crying at her desk. She was so happy to know that her donations were being put to good use by someone who really needed them!

Stories like that make it all worth it.

MO: What things are non-profits in most need of? How can our readers help?

Brittany: Non-profits constantly need office supplies, home and kitchen appliances, and anything that could help with fundraising events such as printing services or silent auction prizes.

As for the mo.com readers, to start, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get some Zealous Good news in your life! If you are in Chicago – donate something! Go to http://zealousgood.com/donate and tell us what you have! If you aren’t in Chicago, sign up for our mailing list to find out when we come to your town and tell your friends in Chicago about ZealousGood.com!

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