Anyone interested in getting involved can sign up at Purposity.com within minutes and expect to receive their first text over the following week.
For good Samaritans looking to help out neighbors in need, there's a new tool that might make it easier to be a philanthropist.
Thanks to the work of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, the Maclellan Foundation and a few local visionaries, the city now has a centralized, online portal through which community members can donate to the practical needs of others.
Purposity Chattanooga addresses immediate needs by connecting individual donors with the stories of donation recipients. The individual needs of impoverished communities are presented in a single place — Purposity.com — putting users within a few clicks of improving someone else's life.
The portal's name is intended to reflect purpose through generosity.
"As individuals, we don't always know the best way to help," said Maeghan Jones, president of the Community Foundation, at a news conference Tuesday. "Through Purposity, anyone can be a philanthropist. Every need met will have an impact, and together we can transform a community."
With 20,000 Hamilton County public school students living at or below the poverty line, the first to benefit from the program's rollout will be students in dire need of uniforms, school supplies and other educational necessities.
Social workers and guidance counselors in schools identify those who need a little extra help and add them to Purposity along with their stories. Additions are sent via text every week to donors who have signed up with Purposity online.
Donors can make purchases through Amazon and items are delivered to the schools within a few days. Donors can also scroll through the list of unmet needs whenever they choose.
In addition to Chattanooga, there are plans to release the Purposity portal in cities nationwide including Birmingham, Ala., Denver and Austin, Texas.
Jones said the platform is particularly useful as people rely more and more on social media and their devices to get involved in their communities while having a greater level of control over their giving.
"For millennials and younger generations, having that direct connection is important," she said.
But beyond the ease with which residents can now help their communities, the organizers of Purposity said the real benefit of the portal is that donors know their money is going to fulfill a specific, real need for someone who might live down the street from them.
"Humanity finds purpose through generosity," said Chris Maclellan, chairman of the Maclellan Foundation board. "Purposity will make doing good easier."
Within a day of going live, the needs of 40 local students were met through Purposity, providing winter coats and classroom supplies to dozens of the neediest kids, including several homeless children.
But the website still has unmet needs, and the portal's organizers ask anyone with the ability to give to sign up.
"Due to a recent house fire, this family lost everything, including pants to keep children warm this winter. Help clothe a student in warmth at school and home by providing new pants," reads one of the posts.
Blake Canterbury, the founder of Purposity, said he's excited to see how Chattanoogans respond to the portal.
"It's one-to-one philanthropy," he said. "It's extremely simple, extremely easy, and very straightforward."
And as the first major rollout of Purposity for wide use in a metropolitan area, Chattanooga was an ideal place to help launch the portal, he said.
Looking back over how the city rallied around the families of the victims of the July 16 shootings in 2015 and the victims of the Woodmore bus crash in November 2016, he said locals have demonstrated philanthropy on several occasions.
"Chattanooga has such a unique community," he said about the help he had in getting Purposity off the ground here. "Everybody came to the table and said let's meet about [Purposity]."
Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731. Follow on Twitter @emmettgienapp.