GiveGab aims to make volunteering a priority in communities

There is no keypad for entry. No receptionist asking you to take a seat. Upon entering the office, you find yourself in an open room filled with natural light…and foosball tables. The company’s mission, “More, Happy Volunteers,” is printed in white letters on a blue wall. A flat-screen monitor is mounted on the opposite wall, displaying colorful charts and sales figures.

Welcome to GiveGab.

A social network for volunteers

GiveGab, a company founded by two Cornell University graduates in 2011, essentially operates as a social network for volunteers, pairing people who wish to give back with organizations in their community.

Aaron Godert, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, said CEO Charlie Mulligan conceived of the idea for GiveGab in 2010 when they were classmates at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. Godert agreed to help with the technical side of the business, and GiveGab (originally called IYouVo) went live shortly after.

“The idea really just spread from the fact that our site is mobile (not an app yet but can be accessed from any computer with Internet) and anyone can use it around the world,” Godert said. “We saw people come on from places we never would’ve expected, in Europe and Africa and things like that.”

GiveGab has a free basic service for volunteers and organizations, but also offers a paid subscription service for volunteer managers, which provides them a system through which they can organize events and promote them, as well as recruit volunteers and track their hours. The enterprise tier of the site is another level higher in cost and functionality, allowing non-profits to access additional features.

“More, Happy Volunteers”

Everything GiveGab does is aimed at reflecting the company’s mission statement. Godert said he and Mulligan have a goal of reaching 21 million users on the site by 2016. They currently have more than 30,000. On a more social scale, the pair has the objective of increasing the volunteering rate in this country as a whole.

“The volunteering rate has been stagnant in the U.S. for the past forty years at about 25%,” Godert said. “We just want to see a 5% increase over the next few years.”

The GiveGab office, located in downtown Ithaca above Starbucks, has features that are conducive to a relaxed and fun work environment, which directly ties in with the founders’ philosophy.

“We take company culture very seriously,” Godert said. “We feel like with that comes a lot of productivity, and people wanting to come to work every day and be happy and have fun. It’s really important to us.”

The importance of giving back

Brittany Cochario, a senior at Ithaca College, volunteers with a number of organizations, including an autism awareness group and the Special Olympics. She said she loves the idea of GiveGab and hopes to use the website in the near future.

“I think that for people who are trying to find their way in a community, whether you’re moving to a new location or you’re coming in as a college student, and you just want to go out and volunteer, it’s a really great way to get out there and be a part of everything,” Cochario said.

Cochario said that, like GiveGab’s founders, she believes volunteering is a valuable form of social interaction.

“It’s cool to give back, meet different people, see different perspectives and learn from them,” Cochario said. “I honestly believe that my experiences volunteering have taught me just as much as anything that I’ve learned in the classroom.”

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