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What problem does your solution solve?
There are millions of high school students in the USA who have an obligation or desire to perform community service. Yet there are so few options that are available to teens looking for rewarding ways to give back that fit into their demanding schedules while providing a direct connection to those in need. In fact, 71% of teens we surveyed reported that finding worthwhile service options is very difficult or nearly impossible. Making matters worse, as they move into adulthood, memories of "dreaded" service projects linger, making it less likely that they will volunteer later in life.The TeensGive.org mobile friendly website will serve as a marketplace for volunteers, offering a menu of vetted in-person options as well as access to our proprietary virtual tutoring platform, where qualified Teens can work a shift on the Stem Squad Hotline, a free homework helpdesk, or our talented TeensGive Storytellers can read along with children from ESL households. And this is just the beginning..
What’s the market potential for your solution?
Our target market is made up of an estimated 21 million high school students that seek out volunteer opportunities. We are testing our business in Westchester, NY, with the goal of replicating the model in 10 cities across the country, all of which fit a similar profile to our test market- high college-bound populations. With over 10 million children in the U.S. enrollled in after-school programs, we have an accessible group of beneficiaries that would benefit from our dedicated volunteers.
Who are your customers?
Our target market is large; there are an estimated twenty one million high school students in the United States, the majority of whom are required to perform community service, and all of whom would benefit from volunteering. Research has shown that volunteering provides life-long health benefits as well as social ones, such as creating a sense of pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment.
We have segmented our customers into two groups:
The Go-Getter: I am a discerning customer and my time is valuable. I want to roll my sleeves up and really help. Give me something meaningful to do and I will get it done. I seek leadership titles, awards and a chance to use my skills to make a difference.
The Requirement Filler: I need to fill 60 hours of community service by graduation. Provide me with positive experiences and I may become more committed!
How will you reach your customers?
We plan to grow our membership through online advertising, TeensGive School clubs and partnerships. We recently received acceptance into the Google Ad Grants program, including an AdWords advertising credit for up to $10,000 per month ($120,000 per year!) on Google search result pages.
TeensGive school clubs will be key in increasing our awareness and in gaining credibility with public purpose directors, who are important stakeholders. TeensGive Club Chapters have launched in four high schools, with several more planned within the 2017-18 school year. We plan to provide recognition and awards to TG club leaders and changemakers each month. In order to be successful, we need to establish credibility and understand the guidelines for approved service hours.
Partnerships will also be instrumental in helping us gain awarenes. We are targeting companies that market to 13-17 year olds, such as college prep centers and summer programs.
How will you make money?
Our Revenue Model- We are a non-profit organization but plan to generate revenue as well as support our business through fundraising. Any excess revenue will be reinvested into additional technology or to buy equipment for our charity partners. To fund our growth, we plan to collect fees from school clubs ($100/school) and, similar to Idealist.com, we will charge non-profits a fee of $35/year to list their volunteer opportunities on the Teensgive.org website.
We will apply for sponsorship in return for on-screen branding, in-kind donations of technology equipment or expertise from local businesses, and education grants to fund our summer enrichment program. We are also planning two fundraisers for this summer including a spin class and a post-service day gala.
What kind of partners will you need to make, support and distribute your solution?
As a first critical step, we will work closely with a non-profit partner, The Carver Center, a community center based in Port Chester, NY, which will allow us to interview community members, observe the children and test our products. The executive director, as well as the individual program directors, help us find ways to provide academic enrichment to their students. We will also partner with high schools who will depend on us to track student service hours and supply high quality volunteer options.
We have had conversations with several related companies about partnership opportunities previewing their services in our blog or newsletter in exchange for payment or cross-marketing. Potential partners: college prep courses, summer programs, gap year programs.
What will your expenses include?
Most of our costs are fixed, making our model scalable and cost effective. TeensGive.org is a 501(c)3 company, which provides access to free programs offered by Amazon, Google and others. As a result, monthly expenses do not exceed $400, including hosting and other technology costs. We expect to increase technology investment in order to develop software to integrate the apps used in our virtual tutoring platform. Most costs are fixed, meaning they will not increase as much as we grow. To keep costs low, our team has acquired the skills needed to build the website and manage SEO search. We will incur higher technology costs as we develop our virtual volunteer platform.
Who is your competition and how do you differ?
Today, about 65% of volunteer opportunities are found through online marketplaces and high schools. Yet, over 70% of our survey respondents agree that is "very difficult" or "nearly impossible" to find appealing volunteer opportunities, leaving TeensGive with an exciting opportunity. The top three online competitors are Volunteermatch.org, Idealist.org, and Volunteerny.org. While these sites all offer thousands of options for volunteers, they practically ignore the teen market. Further, these sites have out-of-date search functions and almost no social media or mobile capabilities. Basically, they are just too "old school" for today's teenager. Furthermore, the age requirements on these sites are almost always “18 and over” for anything that offers direct interaction with an underserved group. In some cases, there are legal reasons for this but, in many, the information is either incorrect or the non-profit is happy to lower age requirement.