Shopping local? With the help of a new mobile app, your everyday purchases can benefit more than just your wardrobe (or stomach).
WeeVu, which just launched in Chicago, is teaming up with local businesses and nonprofits to connect consumers with the causes they care about most, merging philanthropy with everyday spending. This free app allows you to suggest a small donation from WeeVu to your favorite cause just for shopping at partner businesses.
While a student at West Virginia University, WeeVu Founder and President Matt Strauss took to coaching a local youth soccer team and developed a fundraising initiative that involved months of regular Shop Local events. Though Strauss, 23, and his team didn’t see that fundraising through, the planning inspired him to rethink how to raise money for outstanding causes. He enlisted his sister, Steph, 32, who had experience in marketing, and the two went to work creating their family business.
WeeVu’s mission is to forever change the way we give back; the app, available now for both iPhone and Android, allows users to support their favorite nonprofits on a regular basis without digging into their wallets.
The app makes submitting your purchase as easy as snapping a picture with your smartphone (From start to finish, Matt says, the whole process takes just 12 seconds). To become a WeeVr, simply shop at a participating store, and hold on to your receipt. Take a photo of the receipt and submit it through the online app. Browse the list of supported charities (or suggest a new one) and have WeeVu donate part of your purchase to the charity, hospital, place of worship or school that means the most to you. There is no minimum purchase, and you have seven days from the purchase to submit your receipt. When your donation—or WeeV—is complete, WeeVu will notify you. You can easily keep track of all of your donations through the app.
“We all have to do our everyday shopping,” Steph says. “Grab a coffee somewhere in the morning, grab lunch, take our dry cleaning, take our car to get an oil change. So why wouldn’t we go somewhere where we know we can make a difference, especially if we get to choose where that money goes to? WeeVu gives (WeeVrs) an incentive.”
Nearly 30 businesses around the North Shore have signed on, including Evanston’s Edzo’s Burger Shop, Winnetka’s Trifecta Grill and Wilmette’s Duxler Complete Auto Care, with more joining every day. The partner businesses serve your everyday needs, including restaurants, retailers and personal services, and WeeVu’s leadership does its due diligence to ensure each business is in good standing in its community. To date, WeeVu currently supports almost 40 local causes, including our own Make It Better Foundation and many of our nonprofit partners, such as Midwest Palliative Hospice & CareCenter and Northwestern University Settlement House. Each cause is carefully vetted, and no controversial causes are accepted.
“We want to make charitable giving less transactional and more transformational,” Matt says. “You’re doing the voluntary action to make a difference and not just typing your credit card number.”
WeeVu, founded in 2013 by the Wilmette siblings, is growing rapidly around Chicagoland. Businesses receive new revenue and customers as well as advertising through the app, and the Strauss siblings anticipate a business’s affiliation with WeeVu will create a loyalty among consumers. This new take on crowdfunding allows supporters to feel more motivated to give back, as donating is of no additional cost to the consumer.
“The North Shore is such a philanthropic community. We all want to make a difference; we all want to do good things, but we don’t always have the time to,” Steph says. “We give people that chance.”