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Food pantry locator FoodFinder has grown its audience through a collaboration with the PawnGuru app.

Mike Pomranz
January 30, 2018

Pawn shops are known as a last resort: a place people can go to exchange goods for quick cash. And when people need quick cash, often times the reasons can be for absolute necessities: things like rent, bills or food. Understanding this dynamic, an unlikely but logical partnership has been spawned between two very different companies: one that connects users to pawn shops and another that connects them to food.

PawnGuru launched as a way to help people looking to sell their item to pawn shops to get the best possible deal. According to co-founder Jordan Birnholtz, the price between shops varies on average by 250 percent, an amount which can make a huge difference to a desperate seller. But what if a seller could get by without pawning at all? That’s where FoodFinder comes in. FoodFinder is a nonprofit app that looks to connect users with food pantries in their area. According to Fast Company, the founders of these two apps met and realized that, despite the inherent differences in what they did, they potentially served an overlapping client base. As a result, last month, PawnGuru began to provide free advertising for FoodFinder, using a banner to ask customers, “Need help? Want to offer help? Try FoodFinder to find a pantry near you.”

According to Birnholtz, the first week that PawnGuru launched the banner, his app—which has about a half million registered users—helped drive a 500 percent increase in traffic to FoodFinder, which only has about 30,000 users. “I saw an opportunity to support [FoodFinder’s] work and also to help our end users get what they need,” he told Fast Company. “Basically our job is to provide customers with as many resources as possible during a pretty difficult time... We know that people are going to come back to us if they have a positive experience, so anything we can do to give them more information and a more positive experience on our site increases [those] odds.”