Homejoy is bringing the “lean startup” approach to philanthropy.
The company announced the establishment of the Homejoy Foundation today, which will give financial grants to veterans and military families in need.
The foundation will support organizations that directly fund “home happiness” initiatives for veteran and military families as well as individuals who can apply for help meeting an unexpected cost, like a medical procedure or making a home handicapped accessible.
“Homejoy’s mission is to create more happy homes everywhere,” cofounder Adora Cheung said in an interview. “The foundation is an extension of that mission. Every day, you work and work and work, and at the end of the week or month, you want to be fulfilled and know that you made some change. We want to allow people outside of Homejoy to take part of this same mission.”
Homejoy’s service connects people with professional home cleaners through an easy-to-use platform. You can book online, read reviews of cleaners, and make special requests, and (in my experience), they always show up on time with a smile.
Cheung said that the impact extends beyond scrubbed floors, because Homejoy enables people to spend more time with their families and doing things they are passionate about.
A couple of months ago, the team began kicking around the idea of a foundation that would provide a different form of support to a greater group people (meaning not lazy twentysomethings).
The Homejoy Foundation received 501(c)(3) status and is now taking donations to help the 2 million veterans who are homeless or at risk of living on the streets, not to mention the nearly 500,000 who are currently suffering from physical and mental injuries.
“We took what we know about payments from Homejoy, Inc., to create one of the simplest donation forms I have ever seen,” said program director Marlo Struve, who is also Homejoy’s director of communications. “We made it really simple to apply for grants and to donate and everything. We also have a core message about transparency, so you know exactly where your money goes.”
Cheung and Struve said this how Homejoy will stand out from many of the other foundations and nonprofits out there, which are notoriously bureaucratic and often opaque about where your money goes.
Homejoy Foundation’s whole process is online, and once you donate you will get an ID number so you can see exactly where the money gets distributed. Homejoy, Inc. takes care of the operating costs for the foundation, so every donation dollar goes directly where it should.
“We offer immediacy, transparency, and can run something super efficiently,” Cheung said. “These are all tenets of Homejoy, Inc. itself, and we are bringing the lean startup mentality to the nonprofit world. Government agencies and nonprofits may help veterans and have their heart in the right place, but they often don’t have the right process or mentality to make an immediate impact. For us, it is all about seeing results fast.”
Homejoy launched in San Francisco in 2012 and has expanded into 22 markets within the last six months. It has more than 60 employees and works with 500 cleaners nationwide, and it’s backed by $1.7 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Max Levchin, First Round Capital, Paul Buchheit, Resolute.vc, and others.
Cheung said she hopes the Homejoy Foundation inspires other startups to support a social mission and that it shows nonprofits how they can run more efficiently.
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