ActWorthy: Social media for social change

Iowa City citizens rally as a reaction President Trump’s executive order on immigration. This was one of many rallies that have taken place in the past year. Photo by Jake Slobe.

In the midst of the 2016 election, Ross Katz found himself questioning what he had once felt were a shared sense of values and wanted to do something about it.

After looking around, Katz soon discovered that a lot of other people were asking the same questions: How can I get more involved? That is when he decided to start ActWorthy.

“I started thinking about how to get more involved myself and by extension how our community could be brought together and what I discovered is that it’s really hard to build relationships with the institutions that make up our civil society,” said Katz, the site’s founder and CEO. “The way that institutions like nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups and campaigns build relationships with people doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Launched in January, Iowa City-based ActWorthy is an online social media platform that allows nonprofits, activist organizations and political campaigns to connect with those who want to support their work.

“We want to be the site that helps people deepen their relationship with their community and help people take action together whether they’re in the same physical space or not,” said Kratz.

Connecting people with causes they care about

Katz began having conversations with people from nonprofits and advocacy groups about some of the challenges they face when organizing people.

“I discovered that there is this deep well of really good people who are silently doing great work and have no idea that other people in their community are silently doing similar or tangentially related great work in completely separate realms,” said Katz.

ActWorthy’s goal, then, is to provide a platform that increases the awareness of the work that social good organizations are doing. This will allow nonprofits, advocacy groups, and campaigns to coordinate their efforts together more effectively.

“If you want to make an impact on any issue in this community, there are leaders within the community who know what to do. I want to give them the tools to disseminate that information,” said Katz.

2018 plans

ActWorthy was one of the four companies selected to take part in the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2018 Spring Cohort.

“Because I’m focused on making a difference here, in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, as a proving ground for a platform that can be used in the rest of the country, the network and connections the Iowa Startup Accelerator bring to the table was a big selling point,” said Katz.

ActWorthy also is planning on releasing their mobile app sometime this summer.

“I want everyone to be using ActWorthy as a platform to discover and take action in their community and to make an impact on the issues that they care about,” said Katz. “That involves developing our website but it also involves developing our mobile app. We’re preparing to launch the app this summer and test it out in hopefully several events this summer.”

The website is currently available and is being tested in Iowa City and Eastern Iowa, but Katz said he plans to eventually expand to the rest of the U.S.