Rebuildee: The Crowdfunding Platform for Disaster Victims and Their Communities

The-Crowdfunding-Platform-for-Disaster-Victims-and-Their-Communities

When disasters strike, communities unite and rebuild with a click!

When natural disasters strike, they can leave a path of destruction in their wake. Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or wildfires, these events have the power to upend lives in a matter of moments, leaving behind a trail of destruction that may take months, if not years, to overcome. Russell Tuchman, the co-founder and CEO of Rebuildee, a donation platform for disaster recovery, understands the gravity of such situations firsthand. 

CEO-Russell-Tuchman
Rebuildee’s CEO Russell Tuchman 
Image courtesy of Rebuildee

Growing up in Southern California, Tuchman witnessed the toll that natural disasters could take on communities. However, it was in 2018, when he saw the aftermath of a catastrophic wildfire that swept through California, that he truly grasped the immense challenges faced by people trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of such events. He observed individuals struggling to find shelter, food and other basic necessities, with limited support from governmental and organizational sources.

Motivated to take action, Tuchman knew helping those affected wouldn’t be easy. The process of rebuilding after a natural disaster is complex and demanding, requiring a wide range of skills and resources. Nevertheless, Tuchman remained undeterred. He immersed himself in research, sought guidance from experts in the field and brainstormed ideas on how to make a meaningful difference. It was from these efforts that Rebuildee was born, a platform that aims at providing assistance and support in the wake of disasters. 

So, how does the process work?

Rebuildee is a one-of-a-kind crowdfunding platform that merges the features of GoFundMe with those of a gift registry, offering a novel approach to providing aid for those affected by disasters. 

Rather than simply requesting monetary donations, Rebuildee allows users to create campaigns where they specify the exact items they need for rebuilding, such as kitchen appliances, space heaters and other essential items. The platform then connects the campaign creators with friends, family and the community, inviting them to crowdfund the requested items. 

This innovative approach not only promotes transparency and accessibility but also enhances the efficiency of the disaster recovery process. Moreover, Rebuildee facilitates the fulfillment of these items through Amazon and local businesses, thereby supporting local economies when they are most vulnerable.

Authenticity and credibility are top concerns in crowdfunding platforms, and Rebuildee has taken proactive measures to address these issues. When someone creates a campaign on the platform, they need to provide details such as their impacted address, the type of disaster that they experienced and the date of the event. 

“We currently cross-reference that (the details provided by campaign creators) with public records and make sure to personally interact with the campaign creator to ensure they are who they say they are. As we grow and scale, we aim to integrate a few technology-based solutions that reduce any instances of fraud and increase the authenticity of any campaign on the platform,” said Tuchman.

How does Rebuildee balance purpose and profit?

“We believe purpose and profit should go hand-in-hand, and you can maximize on both as you grow and scale. However, purpose comes first as we have a social and ethical responsibility to help those in need,” shared Tuchman. As of now, their primary focus is on establishing trust and raising awareness about the platform, and they have not yet implemented a platform fee, which is a 5% fee charged on every donation. Instead, they rely solely on voluntary tips from donors and users. 

Once the platform has proven that it is a product-market fit, Rebuildee plans to generate revenue in two ways. First, they will introduce a 5% platform fee on every donation received, along with voluntary tips from helpers. Second, they will earn a 5% commission from lead generation for local businesses that join the platform. It is important to note that ‌campaign creators will never have to pay for requesting items to rebuild their homes.

In the long run, Rebuildee aims to sustain itself by relying on revenue from businesses and voluntary tips rather than solely on platform fees from those contributing. This approach aligns with Rebuildee’s commitment to being a purpose-driven company, prioritizing assistance for those in need, while still striving for sustainable profitability.

Challenges along the way

Since its launch in October 2022, Rebuildee has encountered a series of ups and downs. With over 60 transactions being made across more than a dozen campaigns, spanning multiple states and assisting people affected by five different types of disasters, the platform has been on a whirlwind adventure. 

To begin with, building trust and familiarity with a platform focused on helping others presented its fair share of obstacles. Overcoming the skepticism that often arises when people hear about yet another “do-gooder” platform is not an easy feat. Nonetheless, Tuchman believes that the key lies in personal engagement with those in need.

“By personally engaging and talking to those who have been affected, we can build rapport to increase trust in using our platform while also reducing issues in signing up,” said Tuchman. Thanks to their personal touch, Rebuildee has successfully crowdfunded much-needed items for those affected by Hurricane Ivan in Florida, multiple wildfires in California and floods in Kentucky in 2022. Additionally, they have provided support to homeless shelters and women’s shelters in California.

What lies ahead for Rebuildee

Looking to the future, Rebuildee has ambitious plans to expand its platform and forge more strategic partnerships with nonprofits and NGOs. With their innovative approach and unwavering commitment to transparency, Rebuildee is poised to make a significant impact in the field of disaster recovery. In these challenging times, platforms like Rebuildee serve as beacons of hope, reminding us of the power of communities.

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for communities to band together in times of crisis. This is precisely where Rebuildee shines as a game-changing platform, empowering local communities to take charge of their own disaster recovery efforts. By providing an additional channel for recovery and rebuilding, Rebuildee redirects the focus from ineffective external support systems to community-led initiatives. With Rebuildee’s innovative and community-driven approach, the future of disaster recovery is looking brighter than ever.

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Header image courtesy Freepik

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