Non-Profit, On-Point

ESPN helps you sport; Facebook lets you keep in touch with friends; and Twitter gives you instant news updates—and celebrity meltdowns.

But have you ever wanted to donate to a good cause and needed help finding a need or a transparent charity?

Well, Charity Navigator provides evaluations of America’s 8,000 largest charities, and Google’s app One Day asks users to give $1 a day to causes; yet, nothing similar to a social platform for charity exists.

This is why Madison Mikhail, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Capital University, joined forces with her sisters, fellow students, and philanthropic businessmen and women from across the country to develop POINT, a mobile app designed to transform the way people across the globe access, aid, and promote charity. 

“We always say you should be one tap away from doing something good. It shouldn’t be hard, and you shouldn’t have to search for it,” Mikhail said.

Categorized as being a mixture between StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Twitter, POINT’s basic feature is posting (you guessed it) a Point. Tabs are categorized by world needs, and users are pointed to both local and world needs that they care most passionately about, whether that may be access to clean water, health care, education, you name it.

Over afternoon coffee, Mikhail painted a situation when her app may come in handy.

“You’re bored on a Saturday afternoon and, literally, have nothing to do but watch Netflix… but wait! Right down the street there’s a shelter that needs help organizing cans. You think, ‘OK, I can do that for an hour.’”

There is just one problem—the app isn’t entirely built yet. Just like any viable business, POINT needed a substantial chunk of money to operate such an extensive social media hub. Initially, the team aimed to raise $100,000, but Mikhail soon figured the app could be developed for far less.

”Giving is not this isolated thing
that it used to be, there needs to
be feedback.”

Point proven: the organization reached a lowered goal of $20,000 in a matter of 60 days through an Indiegogo campaign.

“Crowdfunding is extremely hard, so reaching our goal was a huge success. The last day we raised over $3,000 on social media alone. At 9 p.m. we were still down $1,900, so my sister and I were up until 3 a.m. tweeting like crazy,” recalls Mikhail.

With eight months of development ahead, the app is set to be released in early 2016. Mikhail urges everyone to visit and sign up to be first users.

But let us back track a little here. Why did an 18-year-old biology major take the initiative to start a business while the rest of her class chased grades?

As part of a family that puts a huge emphasis on community building, Mikhail said she first thought of producing a charity app in middle school and fearfully held onto the idea ever since.

“No matter what your skill set is not, you can learn,” said Mikhail two years ago at TEDxYouth Columbus. “I just started to Google, watch YouTube videos, and ask a lot of questions.”

“I definitely thought about dropping out of college…skipped class for meetings, and took conference calls in the hall. I didn’t get enough sleep, and I’m probably still not getting enough asleep,” she says.

Just as Mikhail was planning to pursue a master’s degree in public health, her fiancé—who she will call her husband this May—challenged her to give POINT, an endeavor with no substantial income and no definite future, a go.

Looking back now, Mikhail admitted she sometimes felt like “a naked traveling vacuum salesman,” likening her door-to-door fundraising campaign to movie scenes where the main character walks home dejected in the pouring rain.

Seated across from this confident, unashamed young woman, it’s hard for me to imagine those dark times.

With college chapters at Michigan State, and Cedarville University, and representatives at Ohio State University, POINT’s target audience is young professionals, who are actively looking for ways to service their community (and meet life partners).

So does Mikhail, a young professional herself, believe, like LBJ, that ending poverty is an attainable goal?

The Gates Foundation projects a better world for the poor in 2030; Mikhail agrees the world is going to look a tad different in 15 years.

“Giving is not this isolated thing that it used to be, where you just slip a check somewhere. There needs to be feedback. You need to know where your money is going and how it is affecting people,” Mikhail made clear.

“The way that change grows is when other people join with you. We think by building a social platform, we’re going to scale the impact threefold.” 

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