Bridge2Act started with two best friends drinking a little too much rosé on the couch. Hitha Palepu had just read a New York Times article about an Afghan girl who was sold by her family to an older man in marriage. She and her friend, Cisco Sales Manager Samira Panah, wanted to help, but they didn’t know where to start. The article compelled them to give, but they weren’t able to quickly discover and donate to organizations. Sound familiar?
“That’s when we realized that, for as great of a job as the media and content creators do to share a story and open our eyes to what’s going on, there is a disconnect between words and actions,” says Hitha. “We’re looking to be the bridge between
Bridge2Act gives people the tools and resources they need to explore and engage with causes that speak to them—right when they feel the need. It’s a digital platform that allows you to take action on issues you read about online, as soon as you read about them. (In this feature on Erin Zaikis who founded Sundara, a nonprofit that redistributes unused hotel soap to communities in need, B2A provides a link to donate at the bottom.) Once you’ve entered your payment info into the platform, you never need to again, so donating to causes as soon as you learn about them is insanely easy. Bonus: it consolidates all your tax receipts to make getting your charitable write-off easy at the end of the year. Since launching last November, they’ve partnered with about 60 charities and raised over $10,000.
Given Hitha’s background, it’s no shock that she feels a strong connection to the world around her. Potty-trained at two years old on a flight back from India, Hitha was traveling with her mother and cancer-drug-researcher father for as long as she can remember and has made a name for herself as a bonafide travel pro (pre-order her book, How to Pack!).
Hear from Hitha on how she’s integrating philanthropic action into the Internet habits we already have.
Bridge a gap
I remember Samira pulling up that article on The New York Times and asking, “Aren’t you horrified by this?” I said, “Of course. Can we Venmo them money? What can we do?” We quickly started brainstorming and, by the end of that evening, we were onto something.
Find causes you care about
My father has worked on a number of cancer drugs, so cancer has always been in the back of my mind. It was always a matter of finding an organization that really spoke to me. A lot of cancer charities are focused on research and disease treatment, but they’re not talking about how to deal with the disease as a person or as a family. The Tyler Robinson Foundation provides grants to families who have a child battling cancer and are financially constrained. A portion of my book sales is going to benefit the organization. I’d like to be able to provide one to two grants to families in need who are already dealing with such a heartbreaking experience.
Count your blessings
India is a very interesting place where you have the richest people in the world living right next door to the poorest people in the world. As a kid traveling to India with my parents, I used to see pure joy in the eyes of people whose worldly possessions were less than what I had in my backpack. Truly knowing how lucky I am has made me instinctively philanthropic and driven to give back.
Pay it forward
It starts with taking an action, whether that’s to just sign up for a certain charity’s newsletter, pledge to donate on your birthday for a specific cause or taking a problem you read about and making a single Google search for organizations looking to fight it.
Know your audience
I would encourage anyone who starts any kind of enterprise or venture to figure out who specifically you’re talking to before you launch. Now that we know who our community is, we’re better about how we communicate with them.
Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump
Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo