There’s never been a better time to be about giving and the greater good.
We all want to dive in and help causes we care about. Milwaukeean Kevin Nam has founded a new business, TaskCause, based on just this concept: giving by doing. I’ve met with Kevin several times and am honored to be a small part of the business as a board member.
Learn more about TaskCause, Nam and what his thoughts are for the future of giving in this latest edition of Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee: What’s the mission behind TaskCause?
Kevin Nam: We’ve created a new way for people to donate their time and skills to their community through what we call "Giving By Doing." We’re accomplishing this by providing digital marketing services for nonprofits to raise awareness and funding for their cause through our app. Over time, we want to give people ownership in the community for volunteering so that anyone can create and earn equity in their local community by giving back.
Give me the three-minute Kevin Nam story.
I was born in South Korea, moved to the United States at 8, lived around various parts of the Chicago suburbs, attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and eventually landed here in Milwaukee. My parents moved our family to this great country because they wanted a better opportunity and a chance at a better life for me and my brother. Growing up, I worked at my parents' dry cleaning business, and today my primary focus has been furthering the "cause" of TaskCause.
What are the ways people can use TC?
There are three simple ways to use TaskCause. You can request something you need done, you can offer to complete a task as an independent contractor to earn money or you can offer to complete a task as a volunteer to raise money for a nonprofit cause – we call it "Giving By Doing."
How is TaskCause different from other large apps?
Unlike centralized services, we’re not providing the service of hosting applications, running background checks, providing insurance, guaranteeing the job, nor charging 30 percent of what you earn in fees.
Instead, we’ve created an open, social and transparent way for people to ask others in their community if they can help. There are no obligations. People may reply and offer to complete them as an independent contractor or as a volunteer for a nonprofit cause.
Talk a bit about the concept creation.
TaskCause has gone through many different stages in branding, product and business throughout the last few years. The journey started as TaskFriend in 2014 as a way to create a more open and transparent service marketplace. Since 2019, we’ve shifted the focus to rebranding as TaskCause in order to provide nonprofit organizations a new way to raise money: by giving people the ability to volunteer on their own time and on their own terms.
How does TaskCause make money?
We charge a five percent fee on all receiving payments with no fees when paying. We’re also providing digital marketing services and volunteer fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations in order to monetize.
What are the pandemic's effects on the business and change on thoughts/opinions?
The pandemic had some short-term negative consequences for TaskCause, but nothing that made it the end of the world. Just as we were planning to roll out a volunteer fundraising campaign with a nonprofit through the app, the pandemic hit and everything came to a stop because the nonprofit we were working with did not feel it was an appropriate time to ask for money or ask for volunteers to risk their health when the organization is not short on funding. Also, their mission was not relevant to the situation that has been arising throughout the past few months.
Our funding source has dried up due to these events. However, we believe that our mission is now more relevant than ever as people are seeking a new way to earn income and give back to their community.
What's been the biggest challenge?
There have been a number of challenges, but I think the biggest one was my inexperience and a lack of guidance from someone that was previously successful. However, after trying, failing and reiterating over and over in many different aspects, I’ve been able to learn and get better and continue to improve each day as we move forward.
What's your personal mantra?
I personally believe that the purpose of life for everyone is to make the lives of people in our lives better and that it matters because the people in our lives matter. I believe that we’re biologically programmed to form communities so that we can better face the dangers outside and have a place where we can feel safe.
However, in order for these principles to apply, we also have to go through our own journey in life and figure out the values and beliefs in which we hold dearly to use it as a way to determine who gets to join our community.
But once they join our community, I genuinely believe that you have a personal duty to give them your best foot forward in every interaction no matter what because they’re in your life for a reason or you must simply re-evaluate your values and beliefs.
Best business book you've read?
I’m going to be cliche here and say "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries because it’s relevant to the topic and I really enjoyed it. I’m not reading anything right now, but I’m open to recommendations! Admittedly, I haven’t been huge on books, and that’s a positive change I need to make in my life. I’ve always been more about experiencing and learning from it than trying to understand fully before going in.
For me, success is finding clarity in life and reaching true happiness, which I personally believe can only be achieved if you practice the "purpose of life" – which is to make the lives of people in our lives better. If these principles are correctly applied, I believe that people who found their happiness will make their life about helping others find their happiness.
Many times, people mistake the physical sensation of feeling good from their bad habits – such as overeating, smoking, staying on social media, indulging in luxury goods – for true happiness when it’s just a sensation that will not last until you get the next hit of your bad habit.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.