Feb 24 2010
I’m not sure what it is, but a recurring theme amongst recent SlapStart reviews has been “good vibes.” Good people doing good things in tough times. It’s inspiring. Perhaps we here at SlapStart are just particularly adept at tapping into society’s Zeitgeist – it wouldn’t be the first time someone has told us that – or perhaps it’s because tough times bring out the best in people, but today’s feature is especially great. It’s a site called DonorCharge, an electronic donations payment services that allows folks to allocate portions of each electronic sale or ATM surcharge revenue to participating non-profits or charities of their choice in a paper-free and environmentally friendly manner.
DonorCharge’s secret sauce is it’s dual purpose of supporting non-profits and the businesses that give to non-profits. I can’t speak for certain, but intuitively it seems like the full potential of the Internet – particularly from a fund-raising perspective – is still untapped for many organizations, public and private alike. And that’s a shame, because if Obama’s campaign taught us anything, it’s that once tapped, the possibilities are limitless. After all, a majority of Obama’s donors – or so we’re led to believe – were small, under $100. We in the business call these micro-donations. And it’s be wonderful if non-profits can replicate even a fraction of this success because the ocean is made up of trillions of teeny, tiny drops, yes?
DonorCharge allows non-profits to efficiently raise funds by tapping into their network of businesses/donors or accepting direct donations from supporters via more traditional methods. It’s peace of mind, as the non-profit can always count on contributions each time a business charges a credit card or electronic check transaction, or each time a customer withdraws funds from an ATM. Here’s why that’s great for non-profits and businesses/donors, IMO:
- Ever leave a CVS or Walgreens and adroitly avoid someone with a clipboard asking for a donation? Um…yeah, me neither. But my friend Fred did once. He’s cruel. Ice runs through his veins. But if you’re like Fred and a business, you’ll be happy because DonorCharge is low-footprint. Businesses sign up once, and they’re done. All automated. No awkward speed-walks or gallops across the parking lot – literally or metaphorically – to avoid the 19-year old Greenpeace kid who smells like patchouli. That’s more time devoted to actually doing your job. Conversely, it’s gold for the non-profits: no pestering phone calls, no rattling of the cup.
- Non-profits can create a “menu” of causes for target donors. For example, they can create a “Building Renovation Fund” and a “Haiti Relief Fund.” Business can choose, and who doesn’t like choice?
- Non-profits can also dabble in…eh, “profits.” Specifically, they can earn recurring donations by referring other non-profits to DonorCharge.
- Businesses may, in fact, give more than they normally would. It’s like that old financial planning trick: automatically deduct a percentage of your paycheck to your Roth IRA. You never really “see” the money, but off it goes, and next thing you know, you’ve saved up quite a little nest egg. Boca Raton, here you come.
- At the same time, businesses/donors can donate to their favorite charities without increasing their existing rates while also donating to an unlimited number of charities.
Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everybody. And moving forward, DonorCharge’s model aims to be all-encompassing, adding a 1-800 fund raising option for participating non-profits. As a result, along with receiving micro-donations and Web donations, non-profits will be able to have their own 1-800 automated system for fund raising to receive donations via touch-tone phone with minimal start-up costs. DonorCharge also has the unique distinction of having the coolest, mellowest, quasi-country home page music of any site I’ve come across in a while. (For a second, I thought I mistakenly stumbled upon a Pink Floyd cover band home page.)
Let’s be honest. The Internet is filled with a lot of white noise – mellow-harshing white noise (heck of a book!) that I frequently and painstakingly wade through – so DonorCharge is like a breath of fresh air, a nice Bach quartet to offset all that disorienting feedback. And if these dire, depressing times keep producing such cool vibes and intelligent solutions, then keep ’em coming I say. Let the bad times roll!