A profound passion to help charities do more and the supportive tech community in Indianapolis inspired and enabled founders Walle Mafolasire and Tayo Ademuyiwa, M.D. to create the charitable donation app Givelify. Since launching the public beta a couple of months ago, Givelify has raised nearly $1 million for about 200 churches across the nation, and incoming donations have nearly doubled month over month.
At its heart, Givelify is a three-tap, easy way for donors to give to any cause from their smartphones. However, there’s much more to it, like donation tracking for users (think taxes) and a web portal for registered nonprofits that allows them to customize their presence on Givelify, track donations and receive donation payouts.
“How many times have you passed by the Salvation Army bucket and had nothing but loose change in your pocket but go on to spend hundreds of dollars using plastic in the mall or local supermarket?” asked Tayo. “What if you could pull out your smartphone and donate directly to the Salvation Army's account directly?”
“The best thing about Givelify,” says Walle, “is that by making Givelify their own giving app, organizations can conveniently receive donations from supporters while they're still emotionally connected to their TV ad, keynote speech, sermon or campaign rally.”
“Text to give” and other mobile or online donation systems have had a tremendous impact on giving over the past five years, most notably when the American Red Cross raised $22 million in one week during the Haitian earthquake crisis in 2010. However, donors still have to remember a six-digit short code and keyword or a custom URL, and very few calls to action get the repeated attention of an international crisis.
With the Givelify app, geo-located churches pop up on a map as soon as you open it, and in as few as three taps later you can complete a donation transaction without ever having to enter in information or search. In two to three months when Givelify rolls out non-church nonprofit registration, this same architecture will allow three-tap giving at charity events like galas and run/walks, which the founders believe will lead to remarkable increases in fundraising for any organization using and promoting the app. Donors can save charities to their home and favorites menus in Givelify, so that they can quickly donate to them as frequently and as generously as they'd like, even when they are thousands of miles away.
Any donor who has sat down to do his or her taxes and just given up on remembering all of the donations for the year and calculating the deduction, will immediately see the benefit in having an accurate record that is kept automatically.
For churches and nonprofits, Givelify offers them a way to track every donor and donation to the penny and gain insights into the donation habits of supporters. Many smaller churches and organizations might be getting this kind of data for the very first time with Givelify.
Caption: The dashboard for Givelify allows churches and nonprofits access to donor profiles, contact information, campaign tracking and geo-location information. More screenshots of the dashboard are available below.
Givelify even works for charities that aren’t registered on the app. The only difference is that while registered organizations receive their funds in 24 hours via electronic deposits, non-registered ones receive a paper check in the mail.
“Our society has evolved into one where everyone is in a hurry,” said Matt Chandler, director of digital marketing. “We predicted that if we make donating a process that only take seconds, the organizations would receive more. Our studies and present data have confirmed an increase in as much as 30 percent to organizations that are using Givelify.”
Early Givelify adopters include mega churches such as New Psalmist Baptist Church (Maryland), Victory Fellowship (Louisiana), and several other churches scattered in 30 different states across the country. That’s how the idea for Givelify initially came about – the founders were frustrated by not being able to make spontaneous donations in our increasingly cashless society. They were sitting at church fundraisers and regular services wanting to donate, but with their checkbooks out of sight and no cash, there was no easy way to do it.
Because both Givelify founders Walle and Tayo migrated to the U.S. from Nigeria, they have seen levels of poverty and hunger most Americans have never experienced outside of television commercials for organizations like Save the Children. Both men often look back at their humble beginnings and find themselves very motivated to support missions that help poor and hungry children all over the world.
Walle had scheduled recurring donations through his church’s website but often found it too cumbersome to use for additional spontaneous donations, especially during worship service, when the pleas for additional support were announced. Tayo being a critical care doctor often missed out on services to care for critical care patients in the ER, leaving him no chance to participate in giving.
Realizing how easy and convenient it was to do everything else on their smartphones, they decided to build an app for donating anytime they were moved to give – an app that would be easy to use and appropriate for church services and other events where prolonged smartphone use is frowned upon. But they believed picking up their phones and tapping a few times would work okay.
Like with PayPal and other free payment services, Givelify plans to continue offering the app for free to both donors and churches and nonprofits, and rely on a small percentage of each transaction for its revenue stream.
“One of the biggest challenges we faced was getting good contract prices with the credit card companies,” Tayo said. “When it’s all said and done, our goal is to increase giving without becoming an added expense for nonprofits — if we’re successful at that then mission accomplished.”
A major priority was to ensure a safe and secure way of donating to one’s favorite charity or place of worship without exposing the credit card information to so many different organizations. Understanding the risks involved with sending and storing payment data electronically, they decided to partner with one of the industry leaders in security and payment processing, to deliver state-of-the-art, PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)-Compliant payment processing. Through this relationship, Givelify users can be at peace knowing their credit card information is not stored on their phones nor on Givelify’s servers. Rather the information is safely transmitted and protected by the same level of security that protects customer payment information for nine of the top 50 financial institutions, and 1,350 other financial institutions in the nation.
Walle said the Indianapolis community has been incredibly supportive of Givelify and that numerous business leaders have stepped up to provide guidance, resources and leadership assistance.
“We can’t even begin to imagine how much harder growing Givelify would have been without organizations like Techpoint, Elevate Ventures and Ice Miller providing timely resources; or without the advice and guidance from business leaders like David Mann, Don Scifres, Wayne Patrick, Jay Love, Ersal Ozdemir, VisionTech Angels and many others. This is a true testimony to the commitment of the tech community in helping startups get off the ground and be successful. We are proud to have Indianapolis as Givelify’s headquarters.”
More Givelify app dashboard screenshots: