Non-profits can be the key to our local or global community success.
Everybody needs a little help every now and then. Give2gether is banking that non-profits want a little help from economic professors applying their years of study towards making online giving more efficient.
The site itself is similar to other philanthropy-enabling platforms like Kickstarter, Crowdrise or even Jumo. Non-profits can set up a page on give2gether and use it to share news and raise money…
What sets the site apart, however, is its claim to improve the probability that non-profits — big or small — will raise enormous amounts of money by simply using it. Rather than just rely on the goodwill of the “crowd” to donate, give2gether is backed by some complicated metrics on how and why people give, including 10 years of research in game theory and behavioral economics. “We think of it as a google analytics for philanthropy,” said Arnon Shafir, CEO and co-founder of give2gether. The other two co-founders are economic professors from NYU and UC Berkeley.
Some of the studies behind increasing that probability include counter-intuitive ideas like limiting how much people can donate to a campaign. It may not sound like the best idea, but that limit often does lead to higher overall donations.
The actual study behind the trend is filled with all sorts of variables and econ-speak, but the basic principle actually makes sense. People are more likely to give if they see that a non-profit can’t fulfill its donation goal with just one donation. For example, Charity X needs $1,000. If it sets a donation limit at $20, it’s more likely to get a bunch of people donating at the lower rate to help push the charity to its goal. Those micro donations often get charities to their goals, or above them, more quickly than holding out for large lump sums.
The strategy, one of many, relies on the belief that people fundamentally want to give. And, for all its high-minded algorithms, give2gether is strangely focused on the human nature of fundraising. “If you want to raise $50,000 to put a CT machine in Mt. Sinai hospital, the machine might cost $40,000, mounting it another $10,000,” Shafir said. “But it’s not about that check, it’s about the people that are moved and inspired by the hospital and want to give back.”
Accordingly, the site has integrated with Facebook and Gigya to allow registered non-profits to share out across a slew of social networks. The site is less about optimizing social media and more about understanding the people that use those social networks. All of this feeds back into give2gether’s built-in analytics that help track outreach and fundraising efforts.
The site is for-profit and takes in a monthly $300 fee and 5% transaction fee. An enterprise version is available for larger organizations at $3,000 per month with no transaction fee. It sounds a little pricey, but Shafir said that 90% of the non-profits raise a couple of thousand dollars within the first weeks, and give2gether’s offering a one-week free trial to see if it’s a fit. Shafir said the organization aims to give 10% of its own profits to charity, but it just needs to actually be profitable first.
Shafir made it clear that the site didn’t intend to fleece non-profits out of money, claiming that the site’s fees will never rise above 7% of a non-profit’s total overhead. Will they adjust their fees if a non-profit lost money? Shafir said they’ve never run into that problem. “We do say no to non-profits that don’t stand a good chance of raising that threshold.” Those calculations are based on number of followers, email contacts, and potential for outreach. The goal, however, is still about doing as much good as possible. “Happy non-profits spread the word faster than anyone else,” Shafir said. “We work with them. Their success is our success.”