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Grapevine: Scaling Social Impact

Steve Schlafman
Steve Schlafman
3 min read
Grapevine: Scaling Social Impact

2020 was a difficult year for so many. I spent countless hours reflecting on how I could have a bigger impact in the startup community and help underrepresented and overlooked populations. Despite this deep desire, I didn't know where to start, how navigate the nonprofit maze, or how to measure my impact.

That’s why my interest was piqued when I met Emily Rasmussen last month. She's the Co-Founder & CEO of Grapevine, the first social platform for Giving Circles. It turns out Emily provided the spark that I needed.

Giving Circles are like book clubs for donating. It works like this: donors create a community to pool their donations, members nominate nonprofits for the group to vote on together, and then money flows to the selected organization(s). This cycle repeats monthly, quarterly or annually.

Here’s the beauty of Giving Circles: each group has the potential to grow their impact as more members join the community.

Giving Circles have existed for over a decade. There are thousands of them throughout the United States. In fact, the number of Giving Circles have tripled in the last 10 years. Despite this, the vast majority are offline and a pain in the ass to manage.

This is where Grapevine comes in. They make it dramatically easier to start, administer and operate a Giving Circle. In essence, the company is democratizing the process of directing donations among groups, and improving transparency for reporting and impact.

Emily and the team at Grapevine are committed to changing the narrative on how social platforms can coordinate positive behavior. I was so deeply moved and impressed by Grapevine's mission and vision that I begged Emily to let me invest. Thankfully, she agreed.

As part of my investment, I committed to creating a Giving Circle that can have a lasting impact in the startup and tech community. I'm thrilled to announce the launch of "Accelerating Access x Opportunity in Startups & Tech" alongside my friends at Notation.

Our Giving Circle exists to support nonprofits that increase access to the internet, skills, jobs, and capital. We will target organizations that serve underrepresented or overlooked populations. Potential recipients might include organizations like Girls Who Code,, Free Code Camp, BLCK VC, and Envision Accelerator. We aspire to create a sustainable source of funding for these nonprofits and others like them.

Why did we choose this cause for our Giving Circle? We believe that having access to information, skills, technology and capital is the great equalizer of the 21st Century. Everyone should have this opportunity regardless of race, background and geography. And not everyone has that opportunity today. We want to help change that.

Our goal is to create the largest Giving Circle on the planet and raise over $1M by April 2022. To kickstart the effort, Notation is matching $5,000 and my family is matching $2,500. This is just the beginning. We plan to devote more resources to this cause in the coming months.

If you'd like to learn more or join the community for as little as $5 per month please visit our Giving Circle Page.  We'd love to have you as a passive donor or an active contributor in the group. We need all the help we can get to reach our ambitious goal.

All that said, I'm honored to be a part of the Grapevine story, as an angel investor, as personal donor, and as an active member of the community.

It's time to get to work and scale our impact. Let's goooooooo!

Steve Schlafman Twitter

An executive coach, facilitator and writer based in New York City.