Non-profit founder uses technology to change the way people give to charities

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The founder of Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself, James Barnett, created an app for a smartphone to give people a view of where their money is going when donating to the non-profit. Barnett started the non-profit in 2009 when he quit his job where he was making six figures to go live homeless. He said he did it after reading the bible and reading verses about knowing the poor. He wanted to know them and experience what they went through.

So he started living on the streets and eventually gathered shoes and clothing for them. That's how the non-profit, Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself, started. Now, it has grown into running campaigns every quarter of the year to help provide school uniforms for specific communities.

Right now, people are raising money to provide uniforms for children in Olimpo, Mexico. There are three tiers that people can give to. The first is that they can just donate money to provide a uniform. The second is that they can provide a uniform and school supplies. The third tier is they can give enough money to provide a uniform, school supplies and health necessities. After they give, they will receive a box in the mail that contains a banner and necklace with coordinates. Those coordinates can be entered into the Neighborly App, which takes people to the community they just donated to.

They can watch a 360 degree video, which sits the user in the classroom with the kids and allows them to read about a few of the children. The app allows people to pass notes to the kids and even get notifications of some of the success stories of what their money has helped. Barnett said the app took 2 1/2 years to make and just launched in July of 2017.

The goal of the non-profit and especially the app is to "make poverty personal." In other words, Barnett wants people to know where their money is going and help them experience the community it's going to.