INTRODUCING STREET CARDS, A NEW MINNEAPOLIS NON-PROFIT
Name: Street Cards
Mission: Serve the underserved using the technology so many of us have right at our fingertips.
Founder: Andrea Bert
What to Know About Street Cards
In July 2018, we collaborated with Minneapolis-based non-profit startup, Street Cards to host a Popup Think Tank where we brought together 20+ people to learn about the project and generate new ideas, connections, and strategies.
In learning about their work and how they envision their mission coming alive, we found ourselves admiring the double-sided strategy of their organization.
On one hand, Street Cards has an ambitious dream of building a technology platform where people can create their profiles and donors can direct their funds specifically to an individual or family. And, down the road, they want to explore finding a way to develop the technology to get the money off of unused or partially used gift cards. The lift on a build like this is substantial.
And, it makes sense: billions of unused funds are left dormant in millions of gift cards across the world. We found this big dream inspiring – and building that kind of technology within a non-profit governance structure is intriguing, too.
On the other hand, the “other side” of Street Cards is equally thought-provoking. Whereas they have a big vision for new technology, Street Cards also has an active, grassroots, on-the-ground, face-to-face outreach program. They approach, befriend, get to know, and collaborate with those who are experiencing homelessness. Not only does this add depth and authenticity to their mission, it also provides an endless number of stories that the team at Street Cards can (and often do!) tell with ease and passion.
The Stories Make It Real
At the event we hosted with Street Cards, I met an individual who was experiencing the loss of a home. I learned about the sequence of events leading up to his homelessness. For instance, his contract with a school district ended abruptly just as the lease on his apartment came due – among an addition of badly-timed confluence of personal events. He was hopping between couches and shelters, and as he spoke, I could tell he was educated, clear-spoken, organized, and very employable. I got the sense that a few gift cards could provide toiletry/hygiene items, a set of clothes, and a haircut, the “table stakes” for something like a job interview.
Who wouldn’t want to give leftover gift card funds to this individual?
When Andrea and I spoke about this “double sided” organization, she was excited about how each side compliments and strengthens the other side. It's difficult to imagine a street outreach without the dream of launching and scaling a tech platform – but also feels disconnected from the “end user” to launch that platform without regular interaction.
Popping up new ideas with Street Cards
A summer evening in July 2018, we set aside two hours to popup a gathering with Street Cards. We invited participants to leave their checkbooks at home (it wasn’t a fundraiser). We listened to Andrea's story, the current challenges, the big dreams, and the opportunity to bring this organization and mission into existence.
We gathered around food, ideas, new friendships, and connections – and the ideas generated at the event were thoughtful and encouraging. We were inspired by Andrea’s courage to follow her dream. She is decreasing the number of shifts she works as a registered nurse to make time to lead and build Street Cards, which includes regular time “on the streets” interacting with those experiencing homelessness.
After the event, we caught up with Founder and Executive Director, Andrea Bert.
1. What was your absolute biggest challenge prior to Popup Think Tank?
I was brainstorming alone and/or in really small groups. Creating new and innovative ideas is usually a slower process with less people.
2. How did that challenge make you feel?
It's tough to think up new ideas for new strategies about marketing, volunteering, fundraising, etc. I often felt like I needed new brain power and fresh ideas. Popup Think Tank provided exactly that. I am not an expert in all of these areas so to have people with experience in all different areas, in one room, collectively processing new ideas was so wonderful for me.
3. What changed after your Popup Think Tank experience?
I now have specific clear action steps I can take to help get our new nonprofit off of the ground. I also feel like I have ideas that I can hold on to implement further down the road. I loved the book of ideas I was given after the event.
4. What specific results can you share about that change?
We will be implementing some of the ideas early on as we create our programs for Street Cards. I am so thankful for all of the new fresh ideas that we can use as we start up! That was the best result I could have asked for.
5. What would you say to someone on the fence about doing a Popup Think Tank for their project?
I would say 100% you should do it! I got so much out of it; new ideas, fresh thoughts, new friends. I highly recommend!
6. Anything else to add?
Business isn't a one person or even small group undertaking. It takes many brains and many thoughts. If there is opportunity to have extra people on your team with new ideas and energy it's worth taking advantage. That is was Popup Think Tank does. They facilitate the group to support your business in ways that will benefit you the most. Whether you need specific ideas about one detailed area of your business OR you're a new start up and want to hear people's thoughts and opinions broadly, Popup Think Tank is going to help you. It is the best decision I've made for our new company so far.
Outputs & Outcomes
Popup Think Tank gathers people to learn, brainstorming, celebrate, and help launch exciting projects and organizations that make a difference. While people come together to ideate and brainstorm new ideas, the outcomes of the event are increased ownership and engagement. This results in a community of brand ambassadors who are excited to support the cause in a way that makes sense for their interests and level of commitment.