How One Entrepreneur Got the Wheels Turning to Get People Volunteering

Rebecca Pontius, cofounder and executive director, Do Good Bus
Presented byPresented by Kia
Mar 7, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Tosten Burks is a contributor for Passion of the Weiss. He has written for The Fader, GOOD, Grantland, and VICE.

This profile is part of TakePart’s “Re-Visionaries” series, in which we highlight people who are shaking things up—and making a difference.

To Rebecca Pontius, the reason more people don’t volunteer is simple: They don’t know where to start. Her solution comes in the form of a remodeled school bus. Pontius, a former event planner, leads “altruistic adventures” in the Do Good Bus, which takes volunteers to mystery service projects around Los Angeles. This is curated community service for the age of information overload. Below, she gives TakePart more insight into how she chooses to do good.

TakePart: How did this idea start?

Rebecca Pontius: It was inspired by my 30th-birthday party on a party bus. We actually didn’t do “good” on that ride, but what inspired me was throwing all these different groups of friends who didn’t really know each other on the bus together. Once they were shoulder-to-shoulder, everybody had this connection. I had been volunteering quite a bit, and my friends would ask, “How do you know where to volunteer? What are the good spots? How do I know if it’s a good cause?” I thought, “Well, what if we threw everyone on a bus and showed them how to volunteer?”

TakePart: What’s stopping people who want to volunteer from doing it?

Pontius: I think it is overwhelming. If you Google “Volunteering Los Angeles,” there are so many options. I also think sometimes with causes, there’s a bigger commitment than people are ready to take. There might be two days of training, and you have to commit to six weeks, coming in once a week. I think people who have helped the cause once and been inspired would be more than happy to do that. But I think it’s intimidating for your first time to show up and commit to all this time, then find out you actually don’t like what you’re doing.

At Do Good Bus, we do all the research for you, and we take you there. You commit to this five-hour experience, and our hope is that you’ll get inspired and want to do it again. But if not, you’ve tried and tested out a nonprofit and can move on from there.

TakePart: What are your goals for Do Good Bus’ future?

Pontius: My ultimate goal is to have Do Good Bus in other cities across the United States. Right now, we charge to ride the bus. That’s our model, and that’s how we pay the bills. But our once-a-month rides that are open to the public, I would love for that to be a lot cheaper for people, where it’s just a donation to the cause we visit.

TakePart: What does being a Re-Visionary mean to you?

Pontius: It’s about being creative and outside the box. I’ve spent my life on a mission to be outside the box and to rethink things. The Do Good Bus does that by reorganizing how people volunteer.