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Fellows Spotlight
Building an Online Community of Asks and Offers
June 22, 2021

Launched in April 2020, Kūkulu Switchboard has grown to more than 700 members with over 450 asks and offers. The organization shared an update on their successes, as well as the future of the online community.

Photo of a group of volunteers collecting donated computer equipment.

Kūkulu Switchboard helped an organization collect and distribute donated computer equipment to families.
Photo courtesy Kūkulu Switchboard

Contributed by Kūkulu Switchboard

To address the complex systemic issues made worse by the COVID-19 crisis, Cohort V Fellow Keoni Lee of Hawaiʻi Investment Ready (HIR), Cohort VIII Fellow Ashley Lukens of Next Gen Donor Hui (NGH), and Lisa Maruyama of Hawaiʻi Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations (HANO) joined forces to launch the Kūkulu Switchboard. The founders sought to build a tech tool that equitably and transparently facilitates connections between resources and needs, connects sectors, and provides a representative landscape of opportunities. The human-operated platform is rooted in the cultural values and strengths of Hawaiʻi and allows resources (capital, human, and otherwise) to be deployed efficiently through a peer-to-peer network. Kūkulu Switchboard has facilitated dozens of connections to resources, fostered cross-sector collaborations, and will build on these successes to continue working towards a resilient future for Hawaiʻi.

Within food systems alone, 15+ funding connections represent approximately $240,000 in capital. Other financial success stories have enabled groups and organizations to deploy refurbished desktop computers to underserved ʻohana in Puna and Hilo, develop a food hub aggregation website, help a nonprofit apply for and secure an SBA loan, scale food distribution operations on Moloka‘i, and much more. Non-financial connections span a broad range from distance learning to technical assistance, in-kind donations, and professional services. Some of the most inspiring connections have come from nonprofit organizations and community networks resourcing each other. There are regular opportunities for professionals and volunteers to donate time and services, and the community has played an invaluable role in facilitating connections. Over time, as they norm the platform, they hope it will become the place where everyone brings their needs and opportunities.

While the platform was created to address issues exacerbated by COVID-19, the facilitating organizations will maintain it to guide long-term problem-solving and drive community resilience. The community is helping to drive the platform’s future, and Kūkulu looks forward to building relationships to help guide this process. Join the community at

Kūkulu Switchboard Infographic - June 2021

Infographic courtesy Kūkulu Switchboard