United States • Community Building • Startup
Gift Economy Marketplace

BuyNothing Project - Case Study

buynothing logo

Non monetized sharing platform for local groups

Jan Solecki

Like what we do? Let’s talk about your project and build something your users will love.

The Company

The BuyNothing Project is a community that advocates the gift economy and creates a place for people to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude worldwide. The idea became widely popular on Facebook. The community consists of at least 5.33 million users spread over about 7,000 groups.


Members can engage in non monetized sharing groups spread over neighborhoods, states, and countries. Behind it all, The BuyNothing Project has a set of principles that some members follow passionately. Building communities, trust, and connections are all values connected to their gift economy which utilizes generosity and abundance.


liesl clark
We actually felt like attention was paid to our specific desire and development needs. As opposed to other companies just throwing some developers at us, and it will just be like everything else they build and they’ll just “get it done.” Liesl Clark CO-FOUNDER, CEO OF THE BUY NOTHING PROJECT

Scope and highlights

  • 283kUSERS

The Challenge

Their tremendous success on Facebook was not without its pain points. Several issues arose using Facebook as a third-party platform for hosting The BuyNothing Project’s communities. The constraints of the platform did not allow for new, innovative features to be added. Additionally, every time Facebook made updates to groups the community had no choice but to pivot to adapt and operate within these new changes. Also, many people wanted to join the community but simply had no interest in using Facebook.

Managing a massive number of communities, with new ones created on an almost daily basis, began to take up a lot of time. It was clear that The BuyNothing Project needed a custom-made solution to host all their communities in one place where they had more accessibility and administrative power. Migrating from Facebook to a proprietary application also meant they could operate outside the restriction, and unpredictable updates, of Facebook groups.

The key challenges of the project included:

ShareThing - mobile mockup4
ShareThing - mobile app mockup

The Process

With such huge communities and interests built up already, there were no doubts about product-market fit. The team at ShareThing also had a firm grasp on what they wanted the application to do, i.e. features and user flow. With these points in mind, it was decided to take a flexible approach and skip the discovery phase and instead put this time into the design phase. 

Figma was the tool of choice for keeping The BuyNothing Project team up to date with Monterail’s design updates. By sharing access early on everyone was kept on the same page and could see updates and minor changes in real-time as the design team was working on the project. 

A team of 12 in total worked on the project. A PoC was delivered in 3 months. Then the team connected Canny.io to collect feedback from users with access to the BuyNothing Project application to collect feedback. Based on that feedback, MVP versions of a mobile application for iOS and Android were developed. 

The MVP took 6 months to deliver. Python was used to create the backend, React Native for the front-end, alongside Amazon Web Services as a cloud computing platform.

Our core actions were:

From the beginning of the development process, we focused on partnership relations between the team and the client. This approach gave us a lot of freedom and satisfaction, both for the team and the client. Understanding the needs and adapting to the existing situation greatly influenced the success of the project. After six months, we were able to celebrate the release of the new application that we were building from scratch. We are happy that we could take part in creating a safe place for the BuyNothing community. Tomasz Zmarzły PROJECT MANAGER

The Outcome

After building the PoC, an MVP was developed and successfully launched. The BuyNothing Project now has its own platform to independently host hyper-local communities and facilitate gift economies. The application already has 283,279 users and 72,841 published posts between the iOS and Android applications.

The new application streamlines processes for both users and administrators. It’s easier for users to participate in communities no matter where they are, at home or on the move. Free from the constraints of Facebook Group The BuyNothing Project team continues to brainstorm new and innovative features. The door has been opened to freely develop their application and communities as they choose to and the possibilities are endless.

The success of this project hinged on the following factors:

Sharething - app view