Pay it Forward

The GoGenerosity platform enables Tauranga locals to pay it forward to those most in need in the community.

Rohan McCloskey’s GoGenerosity platform allows Tauranga locals to use local businesses — from barbers to restaurants
— to pay it forward to those most in need in our community.

As if seeing his own restaurants through a variety of hospitality industry-crushing Covid-19
lockdowns over the last year wasn’t enough for Rohan McCloskey to have on his plate, the
father of three littlies (including a newborn) has also been busy launching GoGenerosity.
It’s an innovative platform for local businesses that enables customers to ‘pay it forward’ to
those in need, in the most wonderful of ways.

“It was during one of the toughest times of my life when GoGenerosity was born,” he admits.
“I was at home during our level 4 lockdown trying to save my restaurants, when I was gifted
with the idea.” The platform, which currently has 25 businesses (and counting) on board, started
out as a simple pay-it-forward system added to the online takeaway services of Rohan’s three eateries: Brooklyn Patio on The Strand, Neighbourhood Kitchen in Cherrywood and Rain Bar in Pāpāmoa, but its immediate popularity inspired him to grow it into something much bigger. 

“When we were getting our restaurants prepped for coming out of lockdown, I thought, okay we’ll give this thing a crack while we’re setting up our businesses for online takeaway services,” says Rohan. “We then implemented the pay-it-forward system so people could just add an amount to
their bill on checkout, and I just saw the generosity flowing from people… And quite surprising amounts, like people would just be ordering a meal for themselves but would add $50.”

Having received some welcome startup funding in August 2020, early 2021 saw Rohan and his
team launch GoGenerosity to Tauranga and the Mount as a smart, easy-to-use system designed
to “make generosity easy”. Consumers are able to ‘pay it forward’ via POS when making their
own payment, 100 percent of which goes directly to the businesses’ elected charity, in the form
of their own products or services (as diverse as food to haircuts). 

This direct, hands-on process is one of GoGenerosity’s key points of difference, and one that
Rohan’s particularly passionate about. “I think that’s the difference with what we do, that it’s traced, so when people give their money to that local business, the local business then uses it, for example, to make food and that food goes out to people in need via one of our charities who collect the food from the restaurants. We call it ‘unlocking dormant generosity’ — so it’s just topping up our bill,
it’s bringing our loose change and turning it into something quite amazing.” 

Rohan says the GoGenerosity model is designed to work “for every single business that has
a product or a service that can help someone in need”. So far this already includes a variety of restaurants and cafes as well as a growing number of others, from barbers and beauty salons
to personal trainers, antenatal teachers and even a holiday park. “It’s not just about handing out,
it’s about handing up and giving people an opportunity in life,” he says. 

“You can argue and say people don’t need beauty treatments and things like that, but what
we’ve already seen is that while it may not be a necessity of being able to function on a day-to-day basis, when people get an experience that takes them to another place…  it’s quite humbling to
see what it does for them and for their emotional state.”

He flags an example of a woman in her late fifties receiving a GoGenerosity-funded facial
and massage treatment at Features Inc. beauty salon in Ōtūmoetai. “She walked in and she
had her head down and wasn’t confident, but when she left she had a huge smile and said that
in her whole life she’d never felt that kind of affection, had never been touched like that, and so
now her life has been changed.”

Another of his favourite moments so far was when a charity delivered meals from his restaurant Brooklyn Patio to a family in need. “This family, there was no way they could have afforded restaurant-quality food, they’re very much getting by week to week. They were so blown away
by getting this food, but then they said, ‘There’s so much food here, do you mind if we invite the
next-door neighbours over?’

“That’s the stuff that just gets us excited, it’s not about just handing out — needs need to be
met and people need to be fed, but when you can give someone an experience, psychologically
it does something different to the person and makes them want to give back.”

Healthcare providers and trades are next on the GoGenerosity list. “As an example, 47 per cent
of New Zealanders avoid going to the dentist due to cost, because there’s no government support, there’s no help, so we’re currently talking with dentists to be able to implement GoGenerosity into
their practices,” says Rohan. “And this is exactly the point where we want to see needs being met
— we don’t want to wait for the government to hurry up on these things, we feel like we can actually be a solution in our local community right now. We’re also working with plumbers, electricians, builders, all the trades. We’re focusing on where we feel there’s the most need initially.”

Rohan, who with his wife Steph moved from Australia to the Bay of Plenty five years ago, says
the area has been the perfect place to settle with their young family — and the perfect starting
point for the platform. “We had a heart for Tauranga and just felt like we were meant to be here,
and we’ve been proven right.

“Nationwide, post-Covid, there’s a real focus on the local community — Tauranga and the Mount definitely have that. We’re very grateful we live in an area like this as it gives us real confidence
about just how far the GoGenerosity platform can go.”

First published in issue 34 (June/July 2021) of Our Place Magazine.

Story by Josie Steenhart