The Social Media App for Charities [Q&A]

Meet Madison Mikhail, the impressive young founder and CEO of POINT.

Feb 4, 2015
Madison Mikhail, founder and CEO of POINT

Madison Mikhail, founder and CEO of POINT (Twitter)

ESPN is for sports, Facebook is for friends, and Instagram is for photos, POINT is for charity. The POINT app has set out to change the way we connect with people in need and organizations doing good work. The average person checks their phone 110 times a day - imagine if just 10 of those times were for the good of others. That’s the aim. The POINT app allows users to find information, charities to support, news articles, ways to give, local opportunities to serve, and friends who also care about each world need through “points” categorized by cause. Just like on other social media networks, users find things worth sharing and then “point” them out to their community or “repoint” from a friend.
This interview with POINT founder and CEO Madison Mikhail comes from Goodnet partner CauseArtist. Mikhail is 23 years-old, and recently graduated from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

How did POINT come to be an app idea? Did it come from the lack of information about charities or the lack of access to charity information? Or both?
The idea for POINT was a two-part process. The first part was the foundation of an organization called ONELIFE that I started when I was 18. ONELIFE was essentially POINT phase one. When you see my TedX talk or the USA Today College article both talk about ONELIFE. We just rebranded to POINT in late fall 2014.
The development of POINT started when I was in the 7th grade. I was looking around my classroom while we were watching a movie on global poverty and realized that if everyone had wanted to help immediately with the issue at hand, there was no simple way to do that. When I searched for information online I was completely overwhelmed by all the data and options out there. There wasn’t anything simple. So from there I set out to make charity simple.



At the time, simple was a website. As crazy as it sounds I had a continual dream of a website with an orange globe. I started to sketch that dream from the age of 12 to 18. After six years of sketching and hoping someone else would developed what I had been thinking of, nothing had changed. So I started what was then ONELIFE, now POINT. We developed a nonprofit, university chapters and custom-made website.
The app/social media idea came from our team assessing our old site analytics. Our goal has always been to connect our society with charity, and to make charity simple. When we started 4 years ago, web was the way to go. Though we still were receiving donations, we weren’t gaining the traction on the site to really change the way our society engages with charity.
Our HQ team realized, we didn’t even frequent the site because its not interactive, personal, or social. We had to ask ourselves “What’s the best way to reach our generation?” We looked around the room and after seeing everyone’s phones on the table the answer was clear – through our phones.
We had to make charity easy, interactive, personal, attractive, social, engaging… and what better way than to do that than with a social media?
When we looked at our future plans it was clear that what we were designing was a social network. ONELIFE wasn’t a social media name – users couldn’t say “I ONELIFE’ed that,” or “Could you ONELIFE that to me?”, but could say “I “POINTed” that,” or “Could you POINT that to me?”. The average person checks their phone 150 times a day - we wanted charity to be apart of those times.

As a social network what do you think will separate POINT going forward, why would a charity or organization use POINT over Facebook or any other social network?
POINT is a mixture of StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Twitter. POINT is geared towards connecting users to what they care about and giving them ways to help. Other social platforms don’t allow a nonprofit to target individuals who already care about their cause!
Once you, as a user, indicate your passions and where you live the app filters through all the data showing you news, charities, and local opportunities to serve according to your selections. This is critical for nonprofits! Any other social platform, if a charity isn’t paying to boast their posts, charities are posting in cyberspace. Also, on the analytics side we are helping charities better gain a targeted audience. Through our analytics the charities will see: what demographic frequents their posts and where their demographic lives, serves, and gives. The might even be able to tell what type of posts their demographic enjoys most!
We want to make it simple for not only users to engage with charity – but for the charities to easily engage and grow their support!

Will the ability to accept mobile donations be a feature and a capability within the app?
Yes! Transparent charities will have the opportunity to raise funds on the app! You can get a small look into the app here.

Has beta testing started?
Not yet! Now that we have raised our $20k seed money, we are in the development phase with an expected launch date set for early 2016. We are currently deciding if we are going to develop the app internally or contract the work out. We have different companies in mind but nothing to release yet. If we find the right people, we want to develop internally. There will be opportunities for people to sign up to test to app in 2015 – you can keep an eye out on the POINT twitter account

This interview originally appeared on CauseArtist and is republished here with permission.

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Causeartist is an online magazine that spotlights social entrepreneurs, organizations, and brands that make a positive impact.