Here on Chicago Rises, we’ve mentioned some of the great things going on at Zealous Good, but there’s much more you can learn.  Zealous Good connects people and companies with items to donate with the nonprofit organizations and charities in Chicago that need them most. We recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with its founder, Brittany Martin Graunke.

The idea for Zealous Good came in early 2010 and Graunke launched it in January 2011. When asked why she started the organization, her response was simple, “I couldn’t not start Zealous Good.” It all started a few years ago, shortly after the recession, when Graunke began noticing a trend amongst community outreach programs: donors were looking for more impact and transparency in giving. Graunke, who has a background in engineering and management consulting, in addition to invaluable nonprofit experience working with United Way, set out to develop a solution to bring efficiency to the donation process and better connect donors and charities.

In the beginning, as with most startups, there were many hurdles to overcome. One big obstacle was developing the platform that Zealous Good runs on. “We were pioneers of the platform we wanted to use. No one else had done anything like this,” said Graunke. With this platform, Zealous Good currently partners with over 400 nonprofits and charities across Chicago. They range from small to large, national organizations. The majority of the organizations signing up are relatively small, which allows Zealous Good to serve charities with a local flavor.

With over 3,000 donations and over $1 million in total goods donated so far through Zealous Good, Graunke has big plans for the future.  She is looking to expand the concept beyond Chicago to other cities, starting with Dallas this year and then 10 cities within the next five years.  In addition, Zealous Good participated in the Point of Lights Civic Accelerator program this past spring, which is a civic incubator that supports entrepreneurs looking to tackle social problems and drive positive change. The future’s looking bright for Zealous Good and efficient donation processes.

As someone who has used the site multiple times to donate goods, I found the entire process simple and refreshing. It was very easy to post what I wanted to donate and then Zealous Good did the rest by finding matching organizations in need of the goods. It’s a great comfort when you’re donating anything that you can know exactly where it’s going, and that it’s going to get to the right place and the right people to do the most good.

In one case, I received an email and letter from the charity thanking me for the contribution. Not only does donating make you feel good, but knowing your donation is going to a place and people who need it most is a wonderful and satisfying feeling.

“Stories about how donations have helped people is one of the most gratifying things about my job,” said Graunke. Check out Zealous Good for more success stories and information on community impact. For others looking to start a business or nonprofit focused on social good, she offered the following advice. “Don’t wait, just get started… Talk to people and get as much feedback as possible. Make your business a little part of each day.” This is a motto we at Chicago Rises stand by.

Every city needs something like Zealous Good. We look forward to seeing it become a reality in the very near future.