A brand new online platform set up by DCU students is enabling Irish consumers to help tackle the housing crisis - one online purchase at a time. GiveBack.ie is a Google Chrome extension that takes a small percentage of online purchases and donates it to Irish homelessness charities - at no extra cost to the shopper.
GiveBack is partnered with over 1,000 online retailers, including ASOS, Amazon and Ticketmaster, and works on a basis of affiliate marketing - when a consumer makes a purchase, a percentage of the amount spent is taken to be donated. 100% of the money GiveBack receives is donated to Irish charities Inner City Helping Homeless and Home Sweet Home.
The project was launched by DCU students taking part in the Enactus programme, which encourages third level students to create and implement social entrepreneurship projects to help their community. GiveBack won the Enactus Ireland National Championship earlier this summer, and will now compete in the world championships in October in California.
The platform has received national attention in recent weeks, with Irish celebrities such as the Rubberbandits' Blindboy and MMA coach Owen Roddy voicing their support for the idea. Speaking to IMAGE.ie, co-project leader Cathal Curry said that the buzz is down to the connections they have made with their charitable partners.
The idea came about over a year ago when Curry teamed up with founder and app developer James Gallagher to begin developing the project. "We all come from a background of digital marketing, and the beauty of affiliate marketing is being able to use its power for good, and in our case, social causes. Obviously, homelessness and housing are the biggest issues facing Irish cities right now, so tackling them was a priority", Curry said.
With the housing shortage in Dublin reaching crisis levels and alarming stories of homelessness making headlines every day, Curry says that homelessness is not the outsider issue it once was. "People imagine homelessness as something that only happens when there are issues with drugs or alcohol, but nowadays it is far more common. Entire families are becoming homeless, priced out of homes in areas that their families have lived in for generations. Houses that they could have lived in are being bought up and transformed into these luxury apartments - something that's not practical for anyone".
While GiveBack's short-term goals are to raise as much awareness and funds for the homeless as possible, their long-term sights are set high. "Our ultimate goal would be to eradicate homelessness in Ireland. We view housing as a right, not a privilege. We want to raise enough money to go towards building social housing or projects such as co-op housing, which have proved successful in many areas," said Curry.
As for the government's position, GiveBack is open to working together. "We're always going to be working towards our aim of eliminating homelessness, and if that means working with government policy to achieve that, then we're open to it. Right now, the building of public housing is at a standstill, and that's the main thing that's needed on a large scale for families. The government could implement practical measures to solve the issue, such as a tax on vacant properties for example, to force landlords to accommodate those that need it," said Curry.