Last year there were 6818 requests for shelter from domestic violence victims that went unmet by domestic violence service organizations on a single day in 2012. SafeNight, a mobile app, wants to change that allowing domestic violence service organizations to crowdsource funding for hotel rooms when there is an urgent need and no available shelter space. Developed by Caravan Studios, a project developed by TechSoup’s Marnie Webb and funded by Microsoft and others, the app is currently being piloted by domestic violence shelters in four local communities, including Tehama County.
To make the pilot a go, one last piece is needed -$2,000 to cover the cost of phone cards. Today, Marnie posted an update on her Facebook profile asking for support. Here’s what she wrote and why I donated:
I know I’ve shared the work we’re doing on SafeNight (http://www.strikingly.com/safenight). It’s an app that helps fund a hotel room for people leaving violent situations. We’re partnering with great organizations working in the area of domestic violence to pilot, get feedback on and improve the app.
I’ve asked for your help sharing the word before. Now, I’m asking for your help in paying for the phone cards we need to make this pilot go. If you can, please donate in increments of $25 through TechSoup. Just put “SafeNight” in the text box. Your help at this stage of the project will make a huge difference. Thank you.
This is the second example (I’m sure there are more) of a platform or app that helps social service workers and agencies crowdsource micro donations for small expenses that may not typically be covered in an agency’s budget but are critical to providing support to clients. The other example, is a platform called “Benevolent” that allows social service agencies to launch small crowdsourced campaigns for clients’ one-time needs – a kick starter for social services. The founder, Megan Kashner, wrote about her platform here.
But there is a bigger idea here. The SafeNight App is one of the technology solutions that Marnie’s project is working on. But far more interesting than the technology tools themselves is the process that Caravan Studio uses to develop its technology solution. They hold the space online for groups of organizations and people to come together to identify community problems. Using the Mindmixer platform and in person convenings, they listen to ideas, combine them with others, and identify a technology solution to meet the communities needs. The create several prototypes and work with the community to pick the best solution to develop. They uphold the mantra – learn fast. They also develop these ideas with complete transparency and you can see this happening in real-time on the Caravan Studios wiki. In addition to SafeNight, here’s a few other projects that they’re developing with a community.
SafeNight is being supported by Microsoft Citizenship as part of its TechforGood initiatives. (Be sure to check out the annual report (page 24-33, but be sure to see page 29). The other supporters include Blue Shield Foundation of California and Vodaphone Americas Foundation. Marnie’s organization is one of a number of those in the social good sector that have married the concept of social good with the lean start up movement or what is being called “Lean Impact.” Another example is the work that Rachel Weidinger is doing at UpWell.