Beremedy leverages social media for social good — not as a sidebar, but as its core business.
The name is an abbreviation of "you be the remedy for someone in need." The how-to using Twitter, Facebook and blogs to streamline donations of food, clothing and furniture to people in need.
Blake Canterbury, the founder and CEO, is a 26-year-old with a background in new media marketing. He started his company in 2009 in response to the severe, widespread flooding in Atlanta, as he witnessed the need for basics such as baby formula and diapers rise with the waters.
"Everyone I've ever met in my entire life wanted to help other people; they just didn't know where to start," Canterbury says. "We thought, 'What would this city look like with 10,000 people getting a text message at the same time of needs in their community? Surely people would want to help with that."
Requests arrive from nonprofits, school social workers and individuals, and Canterbury and a team of four volunteers use Google Wave to communicate which needs they will accept. They then assign a case manager, who works Twitter and Facebook and drives potential donors back to their website for the full story.
"We're putting a story behind it. We say maybe this is a single mom who needs a bed, maybe it's a middle school kid who needs a pair of shoes, but you know the story. You may not know the exact individual, but you know the story and you feel like you're connected and you know exactly where it's going," Canterbury says.
Donors and recipients never meet, and last names are omitted for privacy. Some of the success stories to date include:
“Bed: Donated in 15 min: The need was met in just about 15 minutes by @RaganHolt via Twitter! Thanks so much for all of your help. Stories of hope is what it's all about. A 20 year old getting clean and putting his life back together decided to return home. As a mother would, she welcomed her son home. The only problem, there is only one bed in a single mother’s…”
“Baby Items: This need has been met! We had several donors last night and the need was fully met today! Get this: we had donors donate items before we even posted this link on our social media sites. We're so excited to be able to meet this need. Thanks to YOU GUYS! Thanks for being the remedy.”
Social Media Week founder Toby Daniels put it this way at South by Southwest: "For me, it's putting it on a spectrum. On one end of the (social media) spectrum you have dogs on skateboards (and) people talking about their lunch, and the other end of the spectrum you have the uprising in Egypt, right? So two ends of a spectrum but created by the same single medium which is real-time communication, this network that Twitter provides."
Beremedy plans to roll out nationally, aiming to transform giving at the speed of social media.