Crowdfunding website expands to help people in Charlotte and Con - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Crowdfunding website expands to help people in Charlotte and Concord

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A new website expanding to people in Charlotte, is highlighting a growing call for donations.

It's called benevolent.net.

It only took minutes to visit the site and learn Bill Jeffcoat has a mowing business and needs a pressure washer to earn a livable income in the winter.

Last month, he earned $700.

WBTV caught up with Bill on the job.

"I came to Charlotte 8 years ago and just fell on my luck," he said.

Bill is one of thousands of people who've created a profile on the crowdfunding site, Benevolent.net. So far, two people have donated $35 towards the $505 he needs to buy a pressure washer. He has 60 days to raise the money.

"To get us through the Winter we're going to need to do gutter cleaning, leaf removal, pressure washing, cutting grass and that's where the need arose from," said Bill.

Benevolent.net launched in 2011, but expanded to Charlotte this year thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation.  

The idea of crowdfunding isn't new.

Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are growing in popularity.

But Benevolent is uniquely geared towards people teetering on the edge of stability.

The need must be less than $700.

"What some people don't consider a big amount of money, when you're on the streets, you're on the edge, can be huge," said Matt Shaw, founder of Speak Up magazine.

Matt Shaw runs the nonprofit Speak Up magazine. He helped Bill create his profile. Benevolent requires a nonprofit to validate the profile and distribute the funds to the recipient. Bill says he's not looking for a hand out, but rather a helping hand with his business.

"Just starting out I never dreamed how hard it would be, but every corner you turn there's a need, there something that breaks, it's just kind of tough," he said.

A spokesperson with Benevolent.net tells WBTV the website has soft-launched in Charlotte. It plans to add more local profiles in mid-September.

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