Giving Compass' Take:

• PawnGuru teamed up with FoodFinder, a nonprofit app that allows individuals to search for nearby food pantries, to connect people with the resources they need.

• How can technology collaborations help drive social impact?

Here are three ways to maximize your impact with new technology. 

Over 41 million people suffer from food insecurity in the United States. More than 30 million use pawnshops, in part to help ends meet. So it’s not a giant leap to consider that when folks get truly hungry, they may have to sell valuables at cut-rate prices in order to feed their family.

That fact has always bothered Jordan Birnholtz, the co-founder of Detroit-based PawnGuru, which runs a website designed to help sellers get the highest price for their items. People looking to unload something can post a picture and description of what they’re selling, and the zip code where they live, in order to attract offers from multiple pawn shops around the area.

But mid-December 2017, it began advertising for another unrelated company called FoodFinder on its site, in part to divert people in too dire of straights away from the service completely. FoodFinder is a nonprofit app that allows people to search for nearby food pantries and check what might be stocked there. Founder Jack Griffin started his effort in 2014, the same year as PawnGuru.

The duo decided to collaborate around the holidays because, especially with many kids out of school and unable to access free or reduced-fee school lunch programs, that’s a time when insecurity spikes. Demand increases in the summer, too, when schools are closed. During those times, FoodFinder sees dramatic spikes in traffic.

The PawnGuru team seems happy to direct would-be users to a free resource that might cause them not to pawn some things. “Basically our job is to provide customers with as many resources as possible during a pretty difficult time,” Birnholtz says.

Read the full article about the pawn shop app by Ben Paynter at Fast Company.