Recently-launched app Purposity is giving Denver residents a new way to make a difference.
By Sunni Battin
It is a startup with a twist launched nearly four months ago that’s now igniting a Denver movement to make a difference. A purpose-driven organization that Jamie Rife, co-founder of Purposity, a non-profit committed to helping those in need, is intent on growing.
“The mission of Purposity is to inspire people to live generously and find purpose. We do that by sharing stories of individuals in local communities who could use some help and giving users the opportunity to lend a hand right from their home,” Rife said.
It all functions by finding that right connection — the ideal match of the need and giver. Upon sign up, each individual receives a weekly text that includes a link with a story of a community need in that person’s area. The giver can then make a purchase based off an Amazon wish list and help meet a need.
“It takes under two minutes to meet a need and make a difference. The ultimate goal is that no need goes unmet in Denver. While none of us can do everything, many of us can do something and, if we each do something small every week, we will soon begin to see the entire city of Denver lifted up,” Rife said.
In 2016, Rife came to Denver from Atlanta, where Purposity started. Now, in addition to Denver, five states including Tennessee and Oregon are preparing to launch Purposity, expanding the movement across the country.
According to Rife, Purposity requests average $26, and that can cover anything from shoes for a student at Denver Public Schools to a sleeping bag for someone experiencing homelessness.
Meeting those needs, though, is just one part of the story. The other half is finding those needs.
“Purposity works with local, high-integrity nonprofits. Our needs are generally from school social workers, case managers, and other vetted organizations. There is a submission and approval process to assure all needs meet our strict criteria and come from trusted sources,” Rife said.
With partnerships in place, word is getting around and Rife’s dedication to assisting those who need it most is being achieved one goal at a time.
“Purposity connects people that care with the people whom they could serve best. It’s an opportunity for us to meet the very specific and individualized needs of our residents, as well as connect more people on a very personal level,” said Ellen Abrams, regional philanthropy manager at Mercy Housing (MHI) Mountain Plains and Purposity Partner.
Though the partnership is young, MHI is already seeing the power of Purposity.
“To date, we have received 25 essentials for our residents, including everything from cookware sets to children’s winter coats. We look forward to seeing how this partnership will continue to blossom,” said Abrams.
Fellow Purposity partner The Gathering Place is seeing how Purposity can really benefit someone, especially when time is of the essence.
“Sometimes our members have specific needs that we can’t address, either because we can’t budget for them or the needs are something that we don’t usually get through in-kind donations,” said Matt Wallington, family program manager at The Gathering Place. “Often, these items are needed in a hurry, like work boots necessary for the first day on a new job. Or the need could be very particular, like a specific humidifier for a child struggling with breathing issues. Purposity helps us meet these needs quickly and effectively.”
Ian Cohn, a Volunteers of America Colorado program director working with Back Home Supportive Services for Veteran Families, agrees. He sees how Purposity is specifically helping to bridge the gap.
“While we can cover the immediate, upfront costs of housing, Purposity is able to provide those supports that help an individual reach housing stability as that individual can save their often limited income for alternative expenses,” he said. “With the help of Purposity, we have a greater capacity to have our program participants’ needs met, leading to greater housing retention and overall programmatic success,” he said.
The premise of Purposity is just to make a positive difference. In just a short amount of time, that impact is showing.
“The platform of Purposity is simple, and using it on either end, as a donor or recipient, is easy as Purposity removes many barriers to getting assistance quick,” Wallington said. ■