It’s often an unmet need that drives people to create something new, and it was no different when Austin’s Kathy Terry thought of creating a mobile app that would make giving easy and meaningful.
First, Terry was frustrated at the fact that she often felt obligated to bring a gift – a bottle of wine, scented candle or gift card – to a dinner party or get together. “Why give a gift card to someone who doesn’t need it?” Terry said when we spoke on the phone. “Is that meaningful and going to show how much we love her?”
Terry realized what she really wanted was to make a donation to a friend’s favorite charity. And therein came her second frustration. She knew her friends would welcome a donation in lieu of a hostess gift, but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. Having been on various boards and chaired committees, Terry had a hard time figuring out why giving was sometimes so hard for the donor: finding out your friend’s favorite charity, navigating to the organization’s website, filling out the donation form and then hoping your friend gets the notification. There had to be an easier way.
And with that, the idea for inLieu™ was born.
inLieu™ is a free mobile app, available on both iOS and Google Play, that makes giving simple. For individuals, inLieu™ makes it easy to support your friends and family’s favorite causes. For nonprofits, inLieu™ opens up a simple, easy-to-use platform where your supporters can give. Terry was sure someone else had developed something like this; however, after sitting on the idea for two years, she finally decided to go for it. The complicated nature of inLieu™ was intimidating for Terry and for developers, but she was determined to make it happen. No one else was doing it, and it was a tool she – and our communities – needed. And in turn, the community had a huge part in the success of building the app. “I’m just the vessel,” she says. “I feel like it was meant to be, because people just landed in front of me.”
The app launched in March 2018 and has already raised over $50,000.
There are three easy ways to use inLieu™:
- Give a gift. Support your friends while supporting their cause. Give a donation to their favorite charity in lieu of a gift. inLieu™ allows you to import from your contacts list or add new recipients manually. Type the name of a nonprofit in the search bar, or select from their list of saved favorites. Add in your donation amount and a short message, and done! (Donation amounts are not disclosed to the recipient.)
- Create an event. Having a birthday party and want people to give donations instead of presents? Create an event on inLieu™ and invite your friends to make a meaningful donation to your cause.
- Make a direct donation. Instead of waiting until you get to your computer to look up that nonprofit you just heard about, make a direct donation right from your phone via inLieu™.
As founders of Austin’s popular P. Terry’s Burger Stand and the newly opened Taco Ranch, Terry and her husband, Patrick, are no strangers to community giving. The restaurants host four “Giving Back Days” throughout the year, where all proceeds are donated to a local charity. So far the company has given almost $800,000.
Knowing that some people still hold onto the idea of tangible gifts, Terry’s biggest challenge right now is to make donations an acceptable form of giving. And she has three great pieces of advice for inLieu™ users.
- Be insistent. Emphasize that you prefer donations over gifts. “If we can get people to make a donation one time, the chances that they’ll do it again are so much higher,” says Terry. It’s all about affirmation. Once someone makes a gift, sees how easy it was, and sees how much the donation is appreciated by the recipient, they get affirmation that this is an acceptable form of gift giving.
- Reduce stigma. Terry doesn’t want there to be a stigma that one has to give a lot for it to be meaningful. inLieu™ has a $10 minimum donation requirement, but other than that, no one can see how much you donate. “I just want people to give,” she says. “By making it easy, we also make it easy to give smaller.”
- Change the mindset. Terry wants to change everyone’s idea of giving away from tangible gifts that will likely sit around their house and towards meaningful gifts that have a lasting impact. Making donations in lieu of gifts is twofold: it shows someone you care enough about them to donate to their favorite cause, and you’re helping that charity. “We all have the need to express our emotions. One of the biggest challenges is for people to realize they can express their emotions in making donations.”
What does the future hold for inLieu™ and the culture of giving? Terry wants to change the world.
“The more we give to causes, the more educated we’re going to be, and the more compassionate people we’re going to be,” she says. “I’m more aware of what causes my friends support, and I feel like it’s made me closer to them.” In today’s social media-driven world, Terry has created a technology that actually does connect us.
And we think that actually can change the world.
Use inLieu™ to fundraise for Hand to Hold! Download the app from the App Store or Google Play, create your profile, and select Hand to Hold as one of your favorite charities. Hosting a birthday party, summer get together, or other event? Create an event in the app and encourage friends and family that making a donation in lieu of bringing a gift is the most meaningful way for you to celebrate.