Despite the expansiveness of our government, we still rely heavily on philanthropy to benefit millions of American families. Given this reality, isn’t it a shame that non-profits don’t readily have access to the best fundraising technology available? Thankfully, Give Lively has arrived. A launchpad for digital products for social good, Give Lively provides non-profits with cutting edge technology that they otherwise would not have access to free of cost. Their newest product, Text-to-Donate, is a text-based fundraising platform. Already having acquired tinyGive, Give Lively is expanding rapidly to serve the 1.5M non profits registered in the US.
AlleyWatch spoke with head of product David DeParolesa about the company and how they plan to provide the tools for the organizations that make a difference.
Tell us about the product or service.
Give Lively just launched Text-to-Donate, the only completely free text-based fundraising service on the market, and one of the quickest ways for nonprofits to reach donors and access donations.
In 2016, mobile giving donations more than doubled from the previous year, and 51 percent of people who visited a nonprofit’s website did so on a mobile device. We are empowering all nonprofits — but specifically those who do not have large budgets — to thrive during this dramatic shift to mobile by offering them access to instant on-site fundraising anytime and anywhere via smartphone. Text-to-Donate is utilized at live fundraising events and will be overwhelmingly impactful to nonprofits of all sizes as end-of-year giving and fundraising take off.
Give Lively stands apart from other fundraising tech companies not only because we give our products away for free, but also because our product and feature development is based entirely on feedback from nonprofit and donors. Most importantly, unlike with many other fundraising platforms, our members don’t have to worry about fees or expensive contracts.
Text-to-Donate is the only completely free text-based fundraising service on the market. Other platforms cost as much as $3,000 per year, and require time-intensive setup, not to mention burdensome multi-year contracts. Since Text-to-Donate can be set up in minutes and it’s free, we’re saving nonprofits thousands of dollars and countless hours of work.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
There are more than 1.5M nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), and $390B was donated to charity in 2016, so the fundraising tech market is sizable. However, for the nonprofits who want to use our technology exclusively and rely on us for all online fundraising, we are primarily benefiting the small- to medium-size organizations, or those with an annual budget under $5M. That said, with Text-to-Donate, and as we build out a more comprehensive and advanced portfolio we are able to add a critical technology component that even the largest nonprofits want to add to their existing activities, because the product can be utilized strategically for one-off campaigns, events, #GivingTuesday, etc. Looking ahead to 2018, we believe Text-to-Donate makes us highly competitive for large nonprofits’ business.
What is the business model?
As a tech startup, we have zero revenue and zero profit—which is actually on purpose. The best way to think of our model is that of a foundation, where we provide free resources to nonprofits. Our founders are philanthropists who cover the cost of running our business because they believe in our mission that every nonprofit should have access to the best, most effective fundraising technology, no matter their annual budget or media visibility. Their contribution frees us to serve nonprofits without having to consider profit. We don’t charge nonprofits a penny for our technology because our goal is to make an impact, not a profit. We’re driven to help nonprofits accelerate their own fundraising efforts and increase the impact they are able to make on the world.
What inspired the business?
Our founders have worked extensively with nonprofit organizations and have seen first-hand the positive impact innovative tech can have on fundraising, at least for the nonprofits able to afford it. In 2015, they started Give Lively based on the belief that every nonprofit should have access to the best fundraising tech, no matter their means.
Are you working directly with carriers to provide your service?
Secure payment processing is an important aspect of our technology. In order to offer the highest security and reliability for nonprofits and their donors, we partner with Stripe — an industry leading payment processor trusted by over 100,000 companies and nonprofits — to process payments via credit card, and Plaid to process payments via checking account.
Based on feedback from our nonprofit members, we are currently working on an integration with Salesforce for nonprofits to manage donor relations. As we continue to develop our product line, we will offer more integrations like this so our system can work seamlessly with resources already familiar to nonprofit members.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are constantly collaborating with our nonprofit members to build out new technology platforms, enhancements, and features specifically to support them. We are uniquely structured to be flexible and agile, and purposely keep our technology roadmap wide open so there are no self-imposed limitations on what we aspire to build. At the moment, we’re building an optimized Peer-to-Peer (P2P) fundraising product based on collaboration with our members, which allows supporters to fundraise on a nonprofit’s behalf directly from their website. We plan to launch in the next month so nonprofits can take advantage of the technology for end-of-year fundraising. We are excited to be releasing new product enhancement or platforms for nonprofits every few weeks, and we anticipate this steady stream of developments and to continue well into 2018.
An additional marker of success we consider is how much money nonprofits are able to funnel back into their mission that would have otherwise gone towards a fundraising technology expense. When you look at the shoestring budget smaller nonprofits operate on, even a few dollars makes a big impact when it can support their missions versus go into the pocket of a tech vendor. We hope that by the end of 2017 we have helped nonprofits reclaim 25% of the dollars they raise, just in technology cost savings.
The last milestone is to reduce nonprofit organizations’ reliance on for-profit tech, which has existed for decades but been recently heightened. We hope to show nonprofits that they have another option, and allow them to feel empowered in knowing that they don’t have to sacrifice their mission to stay afloat.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
We’re lucky to have learned lessons from the many startups that have come before us, but perhaps the trickiest and most difficult part of startup life is getting the word out. Who knew it would be so hard to give away something for free.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Our goal is to support all nonprofits regardless of size and budget, giving them access to quality tech so they can focus their efforts and funds on what is important—the causes they support. We would love all nonprofits in the New York community to know about our free resources and empower them to be successful, especially in time for year-end giving.
Why did you launch in New York?
We are a New York-based organization because our founders have a long history of supporting New York-based nonprofit organizations. Our services, however, are available to all US-registered 501(c)(3) organizations.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
The Dutch is a solid, delicious restaurant serving New American fare, and they have (seasonally) a stellar Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie!