Raising Funds for Charity
Prepaid to Causes
In modern times, there have been many different ways to raise money for charitable causes, including mailers, phone campaigns, telethons, raffles, and even, collecting coins in tin cans. Scrip is another way for nonprofits to raise money through rebate sharing.
Great Lakes Scrip (GLSC), for example, serves more than 14,000 client nonprofit organizations in every state. Founded in 1994, GLSC has helped retailers ring up more than $8 billion dollars in sales while raising more than $400 million for nonprofit clients. The scrip company has long standing relationships with well-known retail brands such as Walmart, Bath & Body Works, Burger King, Gap, Home Depot, Target, and others, helping schools and charities raise funds.
In the digital age, crowdfunding has been added to the list of fundraising methods, bringing attention to causes and enabling fundraising for worthy organizations, schools and nonprofits, disaster relief and individuals in need of help. In 2009, less than $2 billion was raised, compared to $8 billion in 2013. Here’s why it’s expected to keep growing.
Benefit Mobile - From Physical to Digital to Mobile
Derik Lolli, CEO and founder of Benefit Mobile, explained his “aha” moment when he saw the physical card (scrip) that his son brought home from school. For years, scrip was a proven way of generating charitable rebates through common purchases made at stores, restaurants and service providers. Derik, an expert in developing mobile tools, saw that another way to generate donations should be mobile.
Parents at his son’s school now shop with a prepaid wallet and a portion of the money goes back to the school’s basketball team. Benefit Mobile is a mobile wallet that gives to the things that matter most through everyday transactions.
Lolli said, “Our users purchases egift cards at face value within the Benefit Mobile app, and we pass most of our discounted rate to the cause of the users choice.” This can be a school, nonprofit or a personal life experience, like a mortgage or health care premium. Benefit users become loyal shoppers because they know when they purchase egift cards at a particular store, they are supporting something important to them.”
The free Benefit Mobile app allows the smartphone user to designate a cause to receive a percentage of each transaction. Users purchase mobile egift cards at face value knowing Benefit sends a percentage of the transaction (most of the discount) to the cause of the users’ choice. Schools and nonprofits receive a check each month for the total contributions.
Parents who bought a Callaway gift card bought golf clubs knowing that Callaway would give 20 percent of the purchase price to their son’s school. In a sample week, new jeans purchased at Banana Republic means your cause will receive 6 percent, or $6.14. Groceries at Whole Foods translates into 2.5 percent or $6.75 to the cause of your choice. Caramel Lattes at Starbucks (five in all) send 6 percent or $1.44 to the cause.
So far, Benefit Mobile has enlisted over 80 retailers to participate in the program. The company tracks balances and shows contributions in real-time so the school or nonprofit knows the amount of funds that are coming in.
Deposit a Gift – Peer-to-Peer Crowdfunding
Deposit a Gift is a Peer-to-Peer type of crowdfunding, founded by Dana Ostomel. As CEO of the digital registry, Ostomel explained how this type of fundraising provides a polite way to ask for a cash gift. Her concept started off with a registry for gifts for brides, new mothers, friends and others you might want to send a gift to celebrate a special occasion or a special reason, such as travel.
“The low hanging fruit was weddings and babies,” said Ostomel, who brought this gifting concept to life in 2010. “People could sign up to register their wedding, so the gateway was the wedding, but they could come back for other reasons.”
It was only natural that they started to use the platform for fundraising. Deposit a Gift now offers two choices, one for gift registry and another platform for raising money for causes.
“If you registered for a honeymoon, then you might consider registering for a nonprofit or a sick friend,” Ostomel noted. “Our platform has evolved into a donation registry where people can tell their story in a visual way, to show what they are going through, or what a friend or organization is going through to let others know how they could help.”
The two platforms look and feel differently. The donation registry function has a layout that is different and colorful with a unique look and feel. Ostomel said, “We also take a hands on approach to customer service to help people with positioning and marketing.”
Generally, crowdfunding is very do-it-yourself and people often feel like they are flailing around, so Ostomel offers ways to help people navigate the site and find their organization. As is usually the norm with crowdfunding, fees are very transparent. Deposit a Gift has a platform fee and credit card fee, but believes their fees are the lowest in the sector. Some of the nonprofits they have worked with to raise money include: the New York Foundling Home, Project HEAL Miami, For the Love of Sophia, and Three and a Half Acres Yoga.
Gift Cards Expand Philanthropy
JustGive found a way to expand philanthropy through the purchase of digital gift cards. On the GiveNow Card, recipients can redeem the card in order to donate to any of more than 1.8 million charities working throughout the world. GiveNow Cards are valid for one year from the date of purchase. In 2014, JustGive sent more than $30 million to charity, according to Andrea Lloyd, Director of Programs. The company saw charity gift card purchases grow by 9 percent and they have added a mobile responsive site.
The way it works: you can send a $50 gift card to your daughter for her birthday. She gets a happy birthday message and has the honor of redeeming the GiveNow Card to donate to a charity of her choice.
When natural disasters strike, caring people around the world want to give to organizations helping victims. Companies such as JustGive partner with companies like American Express to quickly provide support. After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, American Express reached out to JustGive to find a fast, easy solution for their card members who wanted to help.
Within 24 hours of each disaster, JustGive launched online fundraisers so American Express cardholders could donate to charities directly providing victims with emergency services, shelter, healthcare and food. Cardholders simply visited the American Express MembersGive website to donate using their American Express credit card or their Membership Reward points.
JustGive also helped American Express identify and vet the key charities aiding victims for each disaster, whether they were US-based organizations offering aid (like the American Red Cross), or other charities local to the region where the disaster took place. American Express supported its cardholders’ generosity by covering all credit card processing fees. That meant that 100 percent of each donation made it to the charities making a difference.