Meet Give Lively, a tech start-up that builds fundraising tech and gives it away to nonprofits for free. The Give Lively founders are philanthropists who have worked extensively with nonprofit organizations and seen first-hand the positive impact innovative tech can have on fundraising, at least for the nonprofits able to afford it. Give Lively launched in 2015 based on the belief that every nonprofit should have access to the best fundraising tech, no matter their means. All the Give Lively products are based entirely on feedback from nonprofits.
Their fundraising technology come from three main products, which include:
Smart Donations: a smart, simple, and secure donation platform. Smart Donations can live as a standalone page, be embedded directly onto your website, or be accessed in an instant via text. It offers nonprofit members unparalleled customization, and makes giving fast, easy, and transparent for donors.
Small Token: a way to give a meaningful gift to a friend or loved one in the form of a donation to charity on their behalf. Celebrate a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary, or just show someone some love by crafting a personalized card and donating to a nonprofit on their behalf via Small Token.
Small Token Gift Registry: a way to ask loved ones for meaningful gifts to honor a special occasion. Create a charitable gift registry that includes all of your favorite nonprofits and causes, then invite your friends and loved ones to donate on your behalf.
Below is a Q&A with David DeParolesa, CEO at Give Lively
What inspired the launch of Give Lively?
Over the years that our founders have been working with nonprofits, they’ve increasingly noticed a huge technological gap between nonprofits with ample funding and those without. Well-funded nonprofits can access the best tech on the market, often at a significant cost, to help them raise more online and grow as an organization. Nonprofits with fewer resources, whether because they’re just getting started or because it’s their mission to stay small, struggle to do the same.
Other than the financial burden of fundraising technology, it occurred to me that existing donor experiences are lacking critical components that make giving enjoyable for donors. While I was donating to a nonprofit I noticed the process was clunky and long-winded, not optimized for mobile, and with limited payment options. Overall, the process seemed like it was not designed with the donor in mind. I started to think about how these limitations, on top of the high cost of fundraising technology, stunt fundraising success for nonprofits. I was inspired to create a solution that responds to both the donation experience and cost of tech resources available to nonprofits. We set out to build this critical technology that nonprofits can utilize to accelerate their fundraising efforts and increase their overall impact.
How can organizations use your products and what are the benefits?
US-based nonprofits use our products to fundraise online, primarily through Smart Donations, our fully customizable, free donation platform. Nonprofits can create unlimited campaign fundraising pages, add an embeddable widget to their site, utilize peer-to-peer capabilities, and set up our free Text-to-Donate service. We believe that the experience for donors is just as important as the experience for nonprofits, so our giving process is simple, quick, and enjoyable.
For many of our nonprofit members, this is the first time they’ve had access to a mobile-friendly fundraising page, let alone a whole suite of enterprise-level fundraising features. Membership is free and non-contractual, so there are a ton of benefits with no catch for the nonprofits. All we ask is that our members work with us so we can iterate on our platform to benefit all nonprofits in our sphere.
We also developed a gift-giving product called Small Token designed to encourage people to donate to a nonprofit in honor of someone they care about. The recipient will get a customized e-card notifying them about the donation made on their behalf. And if you’re the philanthropic type, you can create a gift registry that tells everyone that you rather they donate to your favorite causes than get them a gift they don’t need. It’s great for birthdays and weddings, and we’ve seen quite a few made just for those purposes. The product has been featured in Yahoo, International Business Times, and Forbes to name a few.
When we aren’t helping nonprofits make the most of our products, we’re getting their feedback to see what our team of developers should build next. We are planning on making events like galas and fundraisers even easier (and less costly) for nonprofits in 2018.
What are some of the key tech limitations or issues nonprofits told you they wanted to see solved?
Cost and donor experience are major limitations. Nonprofits are sick of paying annual or monthly charges on top of excessive per-donation fees. That money is coming directly out of their mission, and they’d rather spend it on programs than hand it to a for-profit tech company.
Many of the nonprofits we’ve worked with were previously using outdated technology that was hard for their donors to use. Our tech is a game-changer for them not only because it is easy for staff to set up, but also because it’s simple and straightforward for donors too.
The products you offer are very unique in the fact that they are FREE to use. Was the decision to make the products free a vision from the start or was there thoughts of having a paid option as well?
Yes, that was always the intention. We wanted to provide a free resource to nonprofits that would elevate their fundraising capabilities and help them achieve their goals. In our collective past work for nonprofits, we recognized how much these organizations were paying for effective fundraising technology. Profit-driven companies were providing a solid product, but only well-funded nonprofits could afford it. We’ve been driven by impact over profit from day one. There’s never been a conversation about charging for our technology. Nonprofits often ask us, “What’s the catch?” We’re happy to say, over and over, that there truly is no catch.
Is Give Lively a registered nonprofit? If not what is the business model?
Give Lively LLC is a social enterprise backed by our founders that works alongside the Give Lively Foundation, a 501(c)(3)-registered nonprofit. While Give Lively’s employees sit under the LLC for legal purposes, the company is not built to make money. The best way to think of our model is to compare it to that of a foundation, where the primary goal of the organization is to give away it’s wealth. In our case, we give away our tech. Our founders 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 visibility. Their contribution frees us to serve nonprofits without having to consider profit.
Going forward what is your vision for Give Lively?
We are constantly collaborating with our nonprofit members to build out new technology platforms, enhancements, and features specifically to support them. Our vision for Give Lively is to reduce nonprofit organizations’ reliance on for-profit tech by providing a reliable and better quality alternative. In doing this, we plan to scale up considerably in the next year, partnering with hundreds of more nonprofits, and empowering them to successfully fundraise online no matter their means.