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Social Impact Tech: Chuyue (Wendy) Jing of Green Apple Gives On How Their Technology Will Make An…

Social Impact Tech: Chuyue (Wendy) Jing of Green Apple Gives On How Their Technology Will Make An Important Positive Impact

An Interview With Jilea Hemmings

Our mission is to help organizations modernize and digitize their fundraising efforts to better adapt to our growing cashless society and young digital-first generations. Our very existence means we’re bringing goodness to the world, and it’s an essential part of our culture to embrace that.

In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuyue (Wendy) Jing.

Chuyue (Wendy) Jing is a recent Commerce graduate from the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University. Wendy is an avid volunteer in her community, and her passion for business and the nonprofit sector encouraged her to write technology articles catered for nonprofits on IT World Canada and Entrepreneur.com. She has also authored two whitepapers that help nonprofits navigate the changing fundraising environment.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?

I was born in a small town in southern China and immigrated to Canada at 5. My parents had both studied international business, but 20 years ago, international degrees were not recognized here in Canada. They decided to start a business of their own and have worked hard to grow that business ever since. As a child, I was exposed to entrepreneurship and was fascinated by it. Between the ages of 9–17, I had various little entrepreneurial stints of my own. I designed t-shirts using fabric markers I had spent my allowance on, taught violin, and tutored younger students in my community for math, history, and music.

The less glamorous part of my childhood was being a POC in a predominantly white neighborhood. I was probably the only Chinese student in my elementary school of >3000 kids. Growing up in a traditional household and not having many Chinese role models as a young kid was not easy. I was a straight-A student, and I participated in countless extracurriculars. I remember in grade 8, I was balancing eight different extracurriculars on top of schoolwork. Some of the extracurriculars I found the most joy in were volunteering. I remember volunteering for MetoWe (renamed WE charity), at local nonprofits like Parkwood Estate, Oshawa Senior Community Centers, and Oshawa Museum, among other nonprofits. I loved giving back to my community and making other people smile.

When I was 17, I accepted my University offer to the Smith School of Business and I was a little torn. I was unsure how business and the nonprofit world intersected, but as I went through my four years of undergraduate, I began to understand how the two intersected. I was extremely fortunate to join the Green Apple Gives Team after I graduated as their Media Manager. I love our mandate, “providing access to digital, recurring, and automated fundraising solutions in a single integrated hub” to nonprofits. I’m glad this series will feature technology businesses that are making an important positive social impact on our society.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the most interesting stories that has happened to me since I began my career was authoring various nonprofit technology articles for IT World Canada and Entrepreneur.com, along with publishing two white papers. As a young child, I was passionate about writing, and I feel fortunate that I can write articles that help nonprofits improve their technological capabilities. I have always been a curious individual, someone who asks a lot of questions. Researching and writing about the most pressing issues nonprofits faced taught me a lot about the industry and helped me grow as a writer and businesswoman.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have many people whom I would thank for my success. Finding mentors who understood me and would answer those stupid questions was essential to me. Two mentors, I want to introduce you to are Paula Walker and James Go.

I met Paula in grade 5, and she was my music teacher. She believed in me and cheered me on when I didn’t feel confident in myself. She helped me prepare for my audition when I applied to a Performing Arts high school. Over the past 13 years, I have shared every one of my successes and failures with her. When I succeeded, she was ecstatic for me, and when I had failures, she reminded me that this door closing meant that a new one just opened for me. She is a dreamer and an achiever, and she inspires me every day. This lady has nurtured the love of music in so many students, helped many underprivileged students gain self-confidence, single-handedly wrote a musical titled “Lucy and Maya,” was published by Warner Bros, and started an annual benefit concert in 2009 that built a school in Uganda and now all proceeds go towards supporting that orphan school. This lady is my inspiration and taught me that there isn’t something I couldn’t do. She helped me build my confidence and self-esteem over the years, and she’s someone I know I can always go to. I think having someone like that in your life is so important.

I met James Go when I did my internship at a big five accounting firm during my consulting internship. He was the first Chinese colleague I had, and it was exciting to see someone like me thriving in the corporate world. I loved how passionate and determined James was when I first met him. Despite the hours that come with working in consulting, he made time to volunteer. I admired him for this. He was eager to speak with undergraduate students about his experiences, answer their questions, and spark their passion for technology. He has been an avid volunteer with organizations like the City of Ottawa, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Animal Humane Society, the Red Cross, and many other nonprofits for over 16 years. He finds time to give back while balancing his work, and I admire this. Since 2018, James has been my mentor and a close friend. He encourages me and offers wisdom and advice when I need a professional opinion. James has always cheered me on in my successes, and I am unbelievably grateful to have met him and have such a fantastic mentor. James is someone who brings a management leadership mindset to work every day, and I love keeping up with every new thing he has accomplished over the years.

Without these two individuals, I would not be the person I am today. Thank you, James and Paula for being here for me over the past few years!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean, if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty” Mahatma Gandhi.

This quote is relevant to me because I choose to believe. I choose to believe that though there is bad, I want to be part of the better change. This is why I find time to volunteer. I believe that by volunteering, if I can make even one person smile, that’s making someone’s day better.

For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, I reached out to my contact at a senior citizen’s centre and suggested we create some virtual concert series for the seniors. I know that the seniors were of the most vulnerable population to Covid-19, and they were also the most isolated population. I wanted to find a way to help them bond with young individuals and music so they wouldn’t be so isolated. I was lucky to help facilitate and run this program for several months. The event allowed musicians across Canada and the US to share our passion for music and help seniors feel less alone and isolated. Though this past year of lockdown has sucked, this opportunity would have never happened otherwise. When I posted online looking for musicians, I never thought this message would reach musicians in the US, but our passion, belief that we can make someone else’s day, brought us all together for the same mission. So I believe that even if the water is dirty, one drop of clear water can inspire other clean drops of water to create a movement and create something beautiful. We can be the changemakers; it starts with one.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The first is hardworking. In University, I worked three part-time jobs, went to school full time, and balanced multiple extra-curriculars. I also never shied away from hard courses but rather embraced the possibility. I had the opportunity to be a consultant for both a local family run marina and for a large hospital through two practical consulting classes. There were long nights and plenty of deadlines and plenty of client and group meetings, but it was really rewarding to help local businesses solve their most pressing issues.

The second is my passion. My passion for the performing arts and visual arts has allowed me to give back to my community and see a glimpse of entrepreneurship at a young age. I had the opportunity to travel across Canada and the United States for Performing Art performances and meet many inspiring and passionate individuals. I fostered the love of art in others by teaching music, and I grew my entrepreneurial spirit by creating art I was proud to sell.

Finally, there is resiliency. I’ve come across closed doors and found creative ways to pass them. As a Chinese woman, I know there will be barriers that always will exist that my male counterparts will never face, but I am ready to make my mark and make my voice heard. Sometimes no means not now, and I know how to go back to the drawing table so I can keep reinventing myself into a better me.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive social impact on our society. To begin, what problems are you aiming to solve?

Green Apple Gives is a digital fundraising platform for organizations like charities, nonprofits, and other community-based groups to generate new recurring revenues from spare change and cashback rewards from their stakeholders’ everyday spending. It works like a rewards program for organizations that fundraise.

The pandemic has accelerated our society’s trend toward cashless transactions. When combined with the digital native mentalities of younger generations, organizations were already starting to struggle to find new ways to engage. Green Apple provides organizations a way that connects and fits in perfectly with a digital-first lifestyle. It may seem alien to Baby Boomers, but it’s accepted by most GenX, expected by Millennials, and demanded by GenZ. If an organization needs to fundraise as either a primary or secondary aspect of its operations, then by definition, they are doing something to make the world a better place.

How do you think your technology can address this?

The simplicity of how the platform operates, combined with the audacity of what we ultimately want to build, makes Green Apple Gives stand out. We’re an easy-to-use high-tech solution for nonprofits to use for fundraising.

According to Canada Help’s 2021 Digital Skills Survey, 54% of smaller charities do not have enough funding to use software and digital tools. However, these are the same charities that would benefit from the efficiencies and new fundraising opportunities presented by technology solutions. Since the retention rate of recurring givers is 90%, Green Apple Gives’ solution costs nonprofits nothing but helps them obtain donors that will make a difference.

Our mission is to help organizations modernize and digitize their fundraising efforts to better adapt to our growing cashless society and young digital-first generations. Our very existence means we’re bringing goodness to the world, and it’s an essential part of our culture to embrace that.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Green Apple Gives backstory is as follows: Christopher Tufford, CEO of Green Apple Gives’ 10-year-old son James does high-level sport karate, which means he competes in tournaments. Like every sport, once you start to advance, it gets expensive — if you’re familiar with rep hockey or academy soccer, then you know what I mean.

James’ competition team does fundraising to help offset the cost to parents. In 2019 they did fundraising BBQs, used clothing and electronics drives, raffle ticket, and t-shirt sales. Lots of old-school, in-person, and parent-organized types of events. But last year, they didn’t do any of those fundraisers, which cost the team $20k in lost contributions. But this isn’t just a problem for James’ karate team, and it’s not just a problem during the pandemic. Modernizing and digitizing fundraising is a massive problem for organizations everywhere!

Participating in his son’s fundraising activities opened his eyes to the enormous opportunity to help these organizations adapt and use technology to improve their results.

My backstory: I was planning to visit family in China for half a year before starting full-time, and then the pandemic happened. I wanted to use this newfound time to explore my interests in entrepreneurship and join a startup. I came across Green Apple Gives and was intrigued by the mission, and I was ecstatic to join the team. I love sharing our story with my network, and I’m excited to share this story with more audiences.

How do you think this might change the world?

The International Community foundation increased its donor base by 823% in just ten months by introducing a monthly donation program. Charity : Water grew its community of donors to 62,000 people in 3.5 years by introducing a monthly donation program. Greenpeace was able to improve its monthly-giving campaign results by 332% since 2018.

By having an easy-to-use tech solution, I would love to see smaller nonprofits also begin to reap these benefits over the next few years. I also think it would be exciting for my generation, Gen Z to have this new option to donate. We are a philanthropic group, but we don’t write cheques anymore and making donations through the phone is not our preferred choice. I’m excited to see the future of fundraising for nonprofits.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I don’t see any potential drawbacks to this technology that people should think more deeply about. However, I believe people will start to realize how much they can donate in a year and how they can make a significant impact by just donating their spare change, and I think that’s amazing.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”?

Be Passionate

Starting any business is hard, so you need to be passionate about the cause you are working for. You’ll face tight deadlines and have late nights, and you need to be passionate about creating a change to get through those days. Having a why will also drive you to create a vision, to consider all the possible ways your idea could fail so you can pivot quickly. Finally, people love hearing a business that stems from a personal passion!

Open the Conversation

Get in front of your customers early on. Ask them what their actual problems are. Please don’t assume that you know their problems. We often fall in love with our first idea, and our first idea might not be a pressing enough issue for our customer group. Once you have a prototype, get it into your customers’ hands. You want them to play with it, break it, and tell you what to fix. Often the best way to develop a product or service that your customers will use is not getting them to love the product at the end but getting them to love the idea and invested in the production and development journey from day one.

Fail Often, But Get Up

Your prototype should not be perfect, or it wouldn’t be called a prototype. Big companies like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube are giant conglomerates with little to no competitors, but they keep reinventing themselves and creating new features for their customers. There is no “perfect” product or service, but you can learn your customer’s pain points and improve your product with each iteration, so start failing quickly rather than slow. It’s also better to fail early than to have invested days or months of time and thousands of dollars into a failed iteration of the idea. Try to make your prototype cheap, fast, and agile so you can fail fast and improve quickly.

Research the Market

Do your due diligence and research. This could save you from pursuing a terrible business idea. Look at market trends and look to other countries to see how similar companies are failing or succeeding. Look for proof for your idea and look for criticisms of your idea. When you find evidence for your idea, write an article about it and focus on content marketing. This will make you a reputable expert for your customer to turn to, and it could create demand for your product before it’s even released. Know your market well!

Build a Team of Experts

No one person in the world knows everything. Building a team of experts will help give you the confidence, humility, and feedback needed to create a successful business. Hire people more intelligent than you so they can teach you how to succeed. From these individuals, you can adopt their best practices and develop your own technical and soft skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. Furthermore, if they have a diverse network, this opens more avenues for angel and venture funding, content marketing, and expert mentorship down the line. Ensure your team is also as passionate as you are about your company’s mission, and you’re good to go!

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I would tell them to find a way to give back that involved their talents. We often forget that our talents can make other people smile, and a small action on our behalf might make someone else’s entire day. Volunteering and creating change doesn’t always mean that you give your afternoon or a whole weekend, so start thinking creatively about how you can make a change.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to meet Michelle Obama and Taylor Swift. I read Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” and seeing how she overcame some of the most challenging obstacles gives me hope and determination to overcome mine. She is also so well-spoken and influential, and I would love to ask her my most pressing questions. Taylor Swift has been one of my favourite singers as a little kid, and I love how she constantly reinvents herself and faces haters head-on. She’s not afraid to be fully herself, act silly, and stand up for what she believes in. I love these two strong women and the role models they are to young girls around the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

IT World Canada Author Page: https://www.itworldcanada.com/author/wendyjing

Add me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-jing/

Green Apple Social Media:

Web: https://www.greenapple.gives/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenapplegives/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/greenapplegives

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenAppleGives/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenapple.gives/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.


Social Impact Tech: Chuyue (Wendy) Jing of Green Apple Gives On How Their Technology Will Make An… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.