Alexandria’s Lore Burek is on a mission to make charitable giving more accessible.
See, Burek’s friends who work at nonprofits are constantly posting on their social media feeds asking for donations. Yet in 2016, charitable giving reached an estimated $390 billion nationwide, a record high level for the third year in a row, according to Charity Navigator. And individual donations made up 72 percent of that total.
Charitable donations might be at an all-time high, but from Burek’s observations, it wasn’t getting much easier for nonprofits to solicit those donations and get their names out there.
So, Burek, an established product manager and solutions engineer who previously worked at Fishbowl, did what any good startup worker would do when they notice a problem in the world: She launched her first venture.
Called give365, Burek’s platform is a charitable giving app that rounds up a user’s purchases and donates the spare change to a nonprofit of their choosing. For example, say you buy a latte for $3.50, then an additional $0.50 will be donated to the selected nonprofit.
“We’re starting local,” Burek said. “I might not necessarily be reaching out to a nonprofit out in California to say ‘Hey look come use the platform.’ I’m going to be hitting up the people who live in Alexandria and D.C. first.”
give365 lets users set a limit on how much they donate on a monthly and annual basis, and if the user finds that the spare change just isn’t totaling to enough donations, then they can “top off” their total at any point. The platform connects to banking accounts and debit cards, and users can pick from any of the over 1.5 million IRS-registered nonprofits nationwide. give365 keeps 7 percent of each donation transaction — half of that goes towards their charitable partner fees.
Burek first had the idea for give365 in 2015, and she started taking business courses via Coursera and looking for a viable business model. At the time, the technology just wasn’t cheap enough to start this without the company taking a significant portion of the donation. She shelved the idea, until early 2016 when Stripe launched its ACH platform.
“Instead of paying a monthly subscription fee and 35 cents per transaction, we could [now] do it at .08 cents,” she said. “All of a sudden that made things viable again.”
In late 2016, Burek signed a contract with a software development team to create the product, and in September 2017, they launched a quiet beta with 40 test users. Soon, they’ll roll out the updated product to the public.
“Phase 1,” as Burek puts it, is all about recruiting and building a stable group of users and finding more charities to work with. In the future, Burek is looking at working with establishments to host their charity nights, such as restaurants and other local businesses.
So far, give365 counts the team at humble ventures as advisers and Burek just started working from local co-working space ALX Community. By the end of 2018, the goal is to have at least 1,000 users on the platform. That will bring the business to a “revenue neutral position,” she said.
“If I’m successful then that’s fantastic,” Burek said. “If it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t necessarily mean I failed, it means I learned a lot.”