How a Gift Registry Is Being Used to Build Relationships and Strengthen Communities

by Edna Rienzi   |   January 12, 2016

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When the Center for a New American Dream first launched SoKind Registry a few years ago, we knew our audience would use it in new and creative ways that would surprise and inspire us. And you have.

We’ve told you about Bloorcourt Sponsors, the group of neighbors in Toronto who wanted to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. They used SoKind to request all the items needed to outfit a new home, including furniture, clothing, transit passes, and $50,000 in cash—the equivalent of a year’s salary. And, through this incredible effort, this group of neighbors who previously had little-to-no contact with each other has created a sense of community and shared purpose. A win-win for everyone involved.

Many people are also using SoKind to create support systems for friends or family suffering from illness. One family whose daughter is undergoing chemotherapy has registered for secondhand books, craft supplies, and Lego sets to help keep her entertained during her long hospital stays. Another family has registered for gas gift cards and homemade meals. Andrea Newell, a cancer survivor, has created the cancer treatment registry that she wished she could have had during her treatment. Her registry includes rides to chemo, secondhand books and magazines, playdates for her kids, and a day off for her husband.

Schools are using SoKind to create classroom wishlists. We’ve seen teachers register for everything from secondhand staplers and board games to gift cards for school supply stores. In addition to material goods, teachers can use SoKind to request gifts of time and experience. A teacher could request that someone sign up to sort bookshelves or help prepare art projects. These gifts would be far more useful than another “best teacher” mug or keepsake ornament. For more information on the logistics of setting up a classroom wishlist along with a sample wishlist, head over here.

Nonprofits are taking advantage of SoKind to create easy-to-use donation lists. Several groups running homeless shelters are registering for food, secondhand clothing, toiletries, furniture, as well as monetary donations. A group called Pop-Up Play used SoKind to help organize its first annual City-Wide Day of Play Festival in Philadelphia. They registered for event tents, social media support, help with the design of marketing materials, a photographer, and more. A sample nonprofit wishlist can be found here.

SoKind is a great tool for making a big impact in your larger community. But it can also strengthen your personal relationships as well. When Michelle and Jedd Chang finished their two-year stint as Peace Corps volunteers in Jamaica, they used SoKind to offer their friends and family concrete and non-financial ways to reconnect with them and support them in their transition back home. On their registry, they asked their loved ones to support their career transition by finding them on LinkedIn and “endorsing” and “recommending” them. Michelle asked for a bicycle loan. They asked for airline miles so that they could visit friends and family they hadn’t seen in over two years. You can learn more about Michelle and Jedd’s registry on SoKind’s blog.

Do you feel inspired to use SoKind to make a positive change in your community or in your life? We would love to hear your ideas! And, if you’ve used SoKind Registry already, we would love to hear your story as well. Please email us at