In October 2011, qnotes reported about the upcoming launch of Gay It Forward (GIF), a coupon-based website similar to Groupon that will be focused on the LGBT community in Charlotte. Different from sites like it, GIF will not only offer coupons to LGBT friendly businesses, but will also provide consumers the opportunity to contribute some of their spending to go to local and national LGBT organizations. GIF’s launch was delayed in order to ensure that everything would be ready to go and that there would be plenty of great deals. GIF is scheduled to go live with their first deal on April 10.

GIF is the brainchild of co-founders Dan Mauney and Mike Rusk. The two see this as an opportunity to educate the community on local LGBT friendly businesses, while at the same time supporting local and national LGBT organizations. “Now is a time that we have to be extremely cognizant. This is a pivotal time for our community and we can’t always just go out and vote. We need to do more to make sure that we rally around the people that rally around us,” says Mauney.

GIF has selected two national organizations and three local organizations to benefit from the purchases of GIF certificates once the program launches. Campus Pride and the Human Rights Campaign will be the national organization recipients and Time Out Youth, The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte and Regional AIDS Interfaith Network will be the local organizations. Individuals who purchase a GIF certificate will have the option to select one of these organizations during the checkout. The selected organization will receive 10 percent of the revenues made by GIF from the purchase. If no organization is selected at checkout, the revenues will be divided equally among the five organizations.

According to Mauney, taking advantages of the savings offered by GIF will be a simple process for consumers. Each time a new deal is posted to the website, consumers who have signed up for notifications will receive an email with the current deal. Most deals will have a time frame or cap and so each deal will be time sensitive. To purchase a GIF you simply go onto the website and use their online checkout system. During checkout you will be asked to select an organization to benefit from your purchase. Once your purchase is confirmed you will receive a GIF certificate electronically that you can use at the specified location.

For the month of April, GIF plans to offer a new deal each week so people can get a feel for the program and in May the number of deals will expand. Ultimately there will be several different types of GIFs offered throughout the month. Certain deals will change weekly, such as shopping and dining, while entertainment deals will change monthly and travel deals will be quarterly. According to Mauney, businesses are responding favorably to the idea of participating in the program. “We have had a great response from local businesses. They really like that we have a targeted market and we are working with each business so they can create their own deal.”

In terms of the types of deals that will be offered, Mauney says that they are aiming to have a wide range of services participating in the GIF program. “We’re talking about doctors’ offices for cosmetic procedures, mechanical things like oil changes, massages and spa treatments and even down to things like painting for home and, of course, great shopping and dining deals.”

Mauney expects that GIF will be well received by the Charlotte community and is already working on plans to expand the program to other cities. “It has taken us a little bit of time to launch, but we wanted to make sure that we had all of the bells and whistles ready to replicate into other markets quickly after GIF launches.” GIF is planning to target Atlanta and Washington, D.C., once the program takes off in Charlotte. As GIF expands, each city will have their own page on the site with three local organizations of their own as beneficiaries of the purchases.

To help get the word out about GIF, there will be a TakeOver launch party on April 6. The launch party will be held at Vivace, 1100 Metropolitan Ave., Suite 100, a local contemporary Italian restaurant that will be featured as an upcoming GIF deal.

For more information about Gay It Forward, visit : :

O'Neale Atkinson

O'Neale Atkinson is a former editor of QNotes, serving in the position from Jan. 23, 2012 to June 15, 2012. His first issue as editor was published on Feb. 4, 2012. His last issue was published June 23,...