Let us know if this sounds familiar: you’re looking to volunteer, have no idea where to start, don’t want to sit through orientation, and then just shrug and give up.
If you’ve found yourself in that predicament before, you’re in luck, because there’s finally an app for that.
Deevee Kashi and Anthony Yoon are the co-founders behind DEED, an app that lets you scroll through upcoming volunteer opportunities, see who else is going, then sign up. Simple as that.
After years of putting himself through college at New York University by throwing parties and charging for them—then going on to open a number of nightlife venues throughout the city—Kashi realized something was missing. In between frequenting some of his local neighborhood favorites like Black Flamingo, Sweatshop, and Gotan, he spent a ton of time searching for and writing to places to volunteer, anything that came up in an Internet search, and didn’t hear back from any of the 20 that he inquired with.
This, he says, creates a huge roadblock when it comes to looking for ways to get involved.
“Even if you’re one of those rare people that aren’t compelled to give back, we hope that people see that, say, 9 of their friends are going to volunteer, and want to go to be part of that activity,” says Kashi. “Helping someone in need should be as easy as ordering a car or food on an app.”
So, he decided to leverage all of the connections he’d made over the past decade in the nightlife industry, from celebrities to social networkers and other influencers, to find ways to get people to volunteer with a simple swipe, a mechanism that has become popular for dating.
DEED now encourages millennials to volunteer by providing an easy, fun way to join a network and choose from a variety of activities, from playing bingo with seniors to dog walking and reading with kids. It also shows you how many spots are available and photos of other volunteers that have signed up. It’s a growing network of young professionals with lots of designers, creatives, even models, people.
After creating the app, Kashi enlisted the help of his friend, Anthony Yoon, who struggled with depression in 2015. Yoon was immediately drawn to DEED’s mission to bring people together to do good and, give them a sense of purpose.
Now, he, says, he hopes the app can ultimately help save people’s lives the way that kindness saved his.
“We feel like millennials are looking for a sense of purpose, but don’t know how to act on it,” says Yoon. “We wanted to create a platform for shared experiences, and one that makes volunteering easy for them. It is an unassailable truth to me that we all have the power within us to change the lives of others, and it is my mission to empower that truth within others.”
The co-founders currently work together out of Williamsburg and are hoping to bring the app to 15 other cities within the next 18 months—they’ve even gotten international requests from people in Amsterdam and Sydney, Australia.
In total, they have helped serve over 11, 000 meals to shelters at Trinity LES and the NYC Rescue Mission, distributed over 1,000 bingo prizes for seniors at Encore Community Services and Bailey House, given over 150 makeovers to at-risk teens through Moravian Open Door, mentored over 800 mentees via Children of Promise, America Needs You, and Association to Benefit Children, distributed over 300 pairs of pajamas at The Pajama Program, maintained 10 urban farms through Times Up!, empowered over 350 individuals with disabilities through the AHRC, and collected and distributed over 3,000 coats to the Bowery Mission and Ali Forney Center.
They also host special events: last month, they partnered with Moravian Open Door, Maybelline, Sephora and 41 Winks to launch their monthly Project Makeover Series, taking 12 ladies from MOD, a transitional home that provides private and semi-private rooms for homeless adults who are just “one step away” from independence. They shared lunch with the women at Chalk Point Kitchen and brought them to have their hair, nails, and makeup professionally done.
Currently, they work with Brooklyn based nonprofits BARC, St Joseph’s, Los Sures, and Recovery House of Worship; and, over the past three months, DEED has acquired over 8,000 users and averaged 10 events per week.
“This is a generation used to instant gratification,” Kashi said. “We need the modality to apply that to volunteering.”