You’ve been there. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. The moment we realize we have a gift card that is of no use to us anymore. Whether you’ve bought as many lattes at Starbucks with your gift card as possible and now have $0.10 left, or whether you’ve been gifted a $25 gift card to a restaurant you hate. We’ve all found ourselves in this situation, and studies have shown that we generally make similar decisions: we forget about these gift cards, we lose them, or we throw them away.

We also know that these decisions have amounted to over $40 billion in the last 10 years, all comprised of funds that we’ve forgotten about or discarded.

The gift card industry exceeded $120 billion last year, and although the number of gift cards that go unspent has varied between $1 billion some years, up as high as $4 billion unspent in others, this is still an incredibly high amount – especially when it is our unused, our unspent, and our wasted funds.

I was in this situation when the idea came to me.

I had been given a $5 Starbucks gift card during the Holidays from a coworker. I waited in line, purchased a vanilla latte that was $4.83 with tax, leaving me $0.17 leftover. Just as I usually do in this situation, I walked out of the store and threw the $0.17 gift card in the trash.

I’m still not sure what it was about that day, but it hit me for the first time – “How many times have I done this? And I wonder how many times other people have done this?”

As someone who has worked extensively with and for the nonprofit sector, I began to think about the immense amount of need in the world…and how I had just thrown money away.

I knew it was more complicated than that, but it got me thinking. And that thinking led to research, the same research that led me to discovering that since 2006, as much as $40 billion has gone unspent – unused and unwanted gift cards forgotten about or thrown away.

I knew there had to be a better way, and from there, Tinua was born.

Today, after a year of strategizing, researching and brainstorming, our small (but amazing) team of 5 has turned into a technology startup company that is quickly moving towards the development of a solution – the answer to the problem of what to do with all of these wasted gift cards.

Our solution is simple: we’re developing a digital platform and mobile application that will allow users to give their unused gift card funds towards charitable causes that meet the needs of humanity. We’re rallying our efforts specifically around the concept of providing basic human necessities – food, water, safety and shelter, basic healthcare, disaster relief.  We believe that working together, as consumers, with the nonprofit and for profit sectors, we can truly make change happen.

We want to start a movement of doing good through the simple act of generosity.

Tinua’s solution allows you to use and spend your gift cards as you wish, but when you have an amount that is no longer of value to you, Tinua’s platform will allow you to give the rest away while being mindful of how seemingly insignificant funds become significant when we work together. You can take what you no longer need and give it to those in need – and from there, you’ll see the impact.

At the push of a button, you can be an #everydaygiver to mobilize waste towards bettering the world. It will be that simple.

We’ll also be delivering articles, news, videos and more so you’re always updated on what happens after you click the button and donate all or part of a gift card. As a company, one of our primary values is transparency. We want to keep you informed about the impact your generosity is having on the world. And that is a promise we’ll live up to.

On top of that, we’ll be partnering with some of the best nonprofits who have been recognized for their work. We’re looking for initiatives and nonprofits that are getting things done. The organizations that are living up to their mission and are making real change happen around the world. We want to partner with the best and want to push nonprofits to be better – to value impact over overhead, to pursue innovative efforts, and to truly pursue and accomplish the dream of making this world a better, safer, and healthier place for everyone.

Because of our partnership with the nonprofit sector, you’ll be able to receive tax receipts for your donations. Even better!

We’re hoping to launch our beta-version for testing in December 1, 2016. If you wish to be one of our first users, please sign up here.

Thank you for believing in our mission. We are truly honored to be doing this work and to finally share our vision with the world. We look forward for the weeks, months and years to come, and we believe that in working together, we can leverage technology and innovation to make a measurable impact on the world.

Tori Utley
Founder & CEO