The Hudson County community is always looking to come together to give back. However, due to numerous CDC guidelines through the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of regular volunteer opportunities have been put on hold. One organization is making sure that charities can run through virtual opportunities to connect with volunteers. We had a conversation with Shazia Peeran, founder of Giving Digitized and Jersey City resident, to learn more about the mission of the app dedicated to charity and volunteering, and how locals can get involved.
About Giving Digitized
(Photo credit: @givingdigitized)
Giving Digitized is a digital platform that was created to make socially distanced giving easier for charities amid the pandemic. Shazia shared more about how charities can use the platform.
“Charities and non-profits use it to request the exact needs to serve the community,” shared Shazia. A regular volunteer herself, Shazia knew there was a need in the community.
“As a longtime volunteer, I understood that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a devastating impact on non-profit organizations and wanted to find a way to connect the community to give directly, virtually,” shared Shazia.
This was how Giving Digitized was born. “We got started in the pandemic to solve a problem in the community. Charities are powered by volunteers and benefit from community engagement with vendors and businesses.”
What Inspired Her
Prior to the pandemic, AmeriCorps’ ‘Volunteering in America’ report stated that more than 77 million Americans volunteered regularly. The more than 1.8 million non-profit organizations providing volunteer opportunities had to drastically limit the amount of in-person help received, despite the need for the work of these organizations significantly increasing. Shazia used this national desire to give back to bring Giving Digitized to multiple states.
“By changing the way donors can give, we are virtually powering giving back in states, including New Jersey, New York, California, and Illinois, alongside hundreds of volunteers using Giving Digitized across the United States. Facilitating the direct donation of resources thus far, we were enabling much-needed aid to those suffering amid the pandemic and are empowering community members to support one another,” said Shazia.
Even though creating the platform during a global pandemic while working a full-time, corporate job was not the easiest task, Shazia was able to generate a new technology that has not only connected charities with volunteers but has truly helped these organizations to thrive over the last 14 months.
Connecting to the Community
As a current Jersey City resident, Shazia has been able to connect with organizations here in Hudson County. She moved to the area for work but has become an integral part of the community.
“My connection with Hudson County started when I moved here for my first job out of college at Goldman Sachs in Jersey City & I now work at JP Morgan Chase that has offices in Manhattan and Jersey City. I’ve been involved with community service here ever since I moved out here. Hudson County is home to some amazing parks and amazing small businesses. I appreciate the work small businesses do to create a larger impact in their community.”
Making an Impact
(Photo credit: @givingdigitized)
There are numerous organizations throughout Hudson County that are utilizing Giving Digitized to increase opportunities. “York Street Project utilized the platform for the Coat Drive, Holiday Toy Basket Drive, and Family Basket Drives. The donations directly impacted the women, children, and families who were finding shelter with them. Hudson Pride utilized the platform to get the 60+coats they needed for the at-risk community in Hudson County,” shared Shazia.
She went on to say, “ADAPT Community Network received 120 items for children including coats, gloves, hats, and scarves.” Other organizations in Hudson County using this platform are St. Ann’s Hoboken, Family Promise of Hudson County, and Unity SME.
The power of connecting those in need with those who can provide allows for our communities to thrive. Shazia says, “As a community, we are stronger together. In a few months, we were able to serve hundreds of families through 17 charities in 4 states. In addition, we were able to provide 24,550 meals in the community.”
This past January was one of the largest single-day efforts Giving Digitized has seen to date. “On Martin Luther King Jr. Day—recognized as the National Day of Service—participants in 24 cities across America came together on Giving Digitized. We were honored to be a service partner on the Presidential Inaugural Committee National Day of Service which is planned with AmeriCorps.”
The Future of the App
(Photo credit: @givingdigitized)
Shazia says that she hopes Giving Digitized can help to support the masses. “Our goal is to help a million people in need through the application. We are focused on and address issues worsened by the pandemic including but not limited to, hunger, homelessness, and economic opportunity.
We are starting with the pressing need for resources through pre-set virtual drives that charities engage in yearly—such as food & groceries drives, cleaning supplies, natural disaster relief, holiday toy baskets, winter gear baskets, family baskets—as well as later case management and economic opportunities.”
“Once charities, volunteers and corporations alike have seen and/or used the platform, we have received raving reviews. It’s great to hear that the platform can be used for all the drives that they have, will make their jobs easier (both charities and volunteer coordinators), makes it easier for those who are on the go, in-person, with different abilities to participate or busy with families and makes volunteers feel more connected and get a sense of community with the application,” Shazia shared.
“It’s a blessing to have created a platform that connects charities and individuals in the community to help those in need. All the hard work is to help serve the community at an even higher level, and the goal of serving a million people through the platform has driven us every day. Together, with the communities, it will be possible to help all our neighbors in need.”
How to Get Involved
Individuals looking to volunteer and charities are encouraged to learn more about Giving Digitized through the website and by setting up a 15-minute call with a representative. Current and upcoming opportunities to give back to individual organizations are listed on the site as well as Giving Digitized merchandise that is being sold with a portion of proceeds benefiting the charities on board.