Make a Difference With Every Gift You Give –
inLieu Them Instead


How We Built This.

It all started on a run one Saturday morning in December. I was going through my “to do” list like I always do on my long runs and realized that I had not purchased a hostess gift for the Holiday party we were attending that night. I could definitely find a scented candle or bottle of wine that I could grab and take with me (one of which was probably delivered to my house by a friend for the same reason), but this was a friend that I knew did not want nor need my candle, bottle of wine, or anything else for that matter.

“The Problem: There was no solution for replacing material gifts with impact.”

$70 billion in holiday gifts, $45 billion in unused gift cards and $9 billion pounds of gifts and wrapping in landfills each year, to be exact. You know the gifts I’m talking about…the hostess gifts, birthday gifts, Valentine’s gifts, Mother’s Day Gifts, thank you gifts, you get the picture. I just kept thinking that there had to be a better way to show my appreciation, especially when I didn’t have the time and/or resources to find that perfect gift.

As I started building my “technology for good,” I began to learn more about the gifting market, and boy, was I surprised! Material gifting is a $3.8 trillion dollar market, with an astounding percentage of these gifts ending up in landfills or going unused, returned or regifted. 5 billion pounds of gifts end up in the landfill every year. As if I wasn’t already frustrated, I learned about the natural resources depleted to make these gifts and the carbon footprint it takes to deliver them. The last generation able to save our planet might just be destroying it. This is serious shi*t!

“The Solution: Give a more meaningful gift–inLieu them instead.”

I started thinking about how we could redirect the money spent on material gifts to create social impact. I decided to build a mobile app that would make it easy to do just that. Welcome to inLieu. Some liken the app to a “Venmo for charitable donations.” We bundled a social network with a messaging system and a secure way to donate to any U.S. based nonprofit.

Everything about inLieu is intentional. It’s a proactive, engaging, social tool to create change in your community and beyond through charitable giving. Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed feeling disconnected, learn and create meaningful connections with your friends by learning what causes you’re passionate about.

There are zero barriers to entry.
First off, I didn’t want there to be any friction in the app. I wanted to be able to send a personalized message to anyone, even if they have not downloaded the app. You can donate on behalf of anyone (you just need their phone number, email address, or Twitter handle) to any nonprofit in the U.S. without the nonprofit having to sign up or register. We’ve made it easy for all parties involved to give and receive impact. It’s simple: download inLieu, save your favorites to your profile, and start giving.

You can (and should) wear your causes on your sleeve.
I wanted my friends to be able to save their favorite nonprofits to their profile, giving me insight into their passions and an opportunity to create impact. My vision was a social network for good; a place to see people lifting each other up. Instead of a network that gave me FOMO with every scroll, inLieu would be a network that builds awareness around causes that are impacting the world around us. I wanted to create a more authentic and genuine social community.

You’ll contribute to a kinder, more mindful world.
Let’s face it: our society has deemed it acceptable for people to give gifts they wouldn’t even want themselves. Queue the dreaded scented candle [sigh]. I have friends with shelves stocked with candles that have been given to them or that they keep on hand to take to someone for a hostess or birthday gift. A candle they will never use, but feel perfectly fine throwing in a gift bag for a friend as a token of love, appreciation or gratitude. Try explaining this behavior to an 8-year-old. They will look at you like you have lost your mind.

inLieu solves a monumental problem with the gifting market by allowing you to donate directly to your loved ones favorite causes. That means zero waste and no time spent stressing over obligatory gifts. Imagine a technology that helps us support friends by supporting the causes they love, reduce waste and the use of natural resources, increase social impact and awareness, and build a more authentic and engaged community. This is inLieu.

In the age of sustainable products and minimalism (thank you Marie Kondo*) a donation through inLieu is an impactful and eco-friendly swap for a gift. Consider the next gift you give. You could turn a gift card into a meal, flowers into shelter, or a card into a cure. We all play an integral part in driving change within our communities. So, are you with us? Take the inLieu pledge and see just how giving good over goods can change the world.

*If you’re reading this from your phone, you can inLieu Marie Kondo directly to her favorite cause right now. Thank her for inspiring you to get sh*t together!