From Florida to Oregon and at several stops in between, local entrepreneur Kristen Manieri is expanding her nonprofit date-night series across the country.
Orlando Date Night Guide founder Kristen Manieri has been inspiring couples to upgrade the fun and connection in their relationships for more than a decade. Her premise is simple: regular date nights – like taking a craft cocktail class or spending one night in a yurt – are a necessity, not a luxury. A few years ago, after looking at everything through the lens of a professional date-night seeker, Kristen found a new twist on date-night inspiration in an unlikely place: a volunteering event at her daughter’s school.
“These kids were having a blast doing good,” Kristen remembers. “I had never seen volunteering look like so much fun. And I wanted in. If I could create a way for couples to have this much fun and do something positive and community-minded, that would be a total slam dunk.”
Kristen quickly coined an event series called Do Good Date Night and hit the ground running in search of a nonprofit partner interested in combining a volunteer opportunity with date night – a fun way to turn a typical date into a date that makes a difference.
The series launched in partnership with Longwood’s Feeding Children Everywhere in 2015. The first Do Good Date Night sold out, bringing together Central Florida couples and friends for an hour of volunteerism followed by downtime to enjoy food, drinks, and good company. As with all Do Good Date Nights, 100 percent of the proceeds went right into the hands of the host nonprofit organization.
The concept was a hit, and Kristen’s still-growing list of local nonprofit Do Good Date Night partners includes Habitat for Humanity, Clean the World, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Harvest Time International, and Goodwill Industries. The events are unique and nothing short of incredible, resulting in thousands of volunteer hours to date and the fondest of memories.
The ongoing series, which was recently featured in Good Housekeeping magazine, garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from people around the country.
“One woman from Indiana reached out to me about hosting a Do Good Date Night at her local food bank, and the idea really stuck with me for a little while,” says Kristen. “I had to wrap my head around what I could do.”
Kristen developed a blueprint to expand and facilitate Do Good Date Night beyond its humble beginnings in Central Florida.
Now in the midst of a national expansion, events have recently been hosted in partnership with local food banks in Muncie, Indiana; Dayton, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; and Monroe, Louisiana.
“It’s just resonating with people, and the best part is it’s been such a win-win for our nonprofit partners,” says Kristen. “It’s something that I wasn’t expecting or anticipating, but it’s become a way for nonprofits to gain access to a pool of volunteers that they wouldn’t typically reach.”
The Do Good Date Night concept is what Kristen calls a friend-raising tool for nonprofits, generating offshoot opportunities for service projects, donations, and community events.
“Twenty-one percent of our event attendees return to our nonprofit partners to give more time and more money – plus, it’s date night!” says Kristen. “It really doesn’t matter where you are in the world. Couples like to do something different for date night, so using it as an opportunity to do good in your community is great for everyone involved.
“How can we weave doing more good into our lives?” Kristen ponders. “The sky is the limit.”
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