SwipeGood Works to Make Giving So Easy, It’s a Rounding Error

5/9/11Follow @wroush

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a percentage, but the round-up is a concept everybody gets, and feels they can afford. It’s the option that just psychologically clicks with people.”

But some people are telling the startup they want to give more—so the company is developing settings that would let users round up to the nearest $2, or $5, or simply double their donation at the end of each month. It’s also building ways to let merchants match their customers’ donations, doubling the impact of each transaction—both in bricks-and-mortar locations and online.

I got the whole story on SwipeGood’s operation and its future plans in an interview with Efti yesterday. Here are a few of the key points.

On what’s broken about the current system of non-profit fundraising, from the donor’s perspective:

“There’s too much friction. People have to decide, first what is the right amount to give. Second, what is the right time—now, or at the end of the year, or when the recession is over? Third, finding the right cause where my money will actually make a difference, which organization is going to use my money in the right fashion. People have to make a lot of decisions based on very little information. That results in a lot of people postponing or dropping out of the process. We thought, ‘Why isn’t there a simple and elegant solution where I can make giving to charity part of my daily life, something that ties into my normal behavior?’”

On how the SwipeGood donation collection system actually works:

“There’s an industry-standard platform that provides transactional data for most [financial services] companies, even the banks, and we use the same provider that Mint and Blippy and Bank of America use. It’s called Yodlee. Through them, we can get the transaction data. We do the round-up math on a daily basis, but we charge your card once every 30 days for the aggregated amount. The reason we do that is to decrease the [credit-card processing] charges that the bank would have. If we got charged a 5-cent processing fee on a round-up amount that was only 5 cents, we’d be losing money.”

On how SwipeGood screens non-profits:

“There’s no cost for a non-profit to sign up. They have to fill out a lot of information. They have to put in their EIN [employer identification number], so that we can verify they are a 501(c)(3). They have to share their numbers from the past year. We research those organizations online, check that they are legitimate non-profits, and see what reviews they get and that their overall reputation is a good one. Then we schedule a call to talk with them about the work they’re doing, the types of fundraising they do, and explain how our system works. Then we make them live, and every non-profit gets a special landing page that they can use to market and promote themselves, as well as a dashboard that gives them analytics and allows them to see exactly what’s happening and how many round-ups have been done.”

On extending SwipeGood’s technology to merchants and e-retailers:

“We have a lot of merchants reaching out to us, and we think we are going to start introducing matching [donations by merchants] in the next six to nine months. We are also seeing a lot of interest from online shops—people asking if we have an API [application programming interface] because they would like to include a SwipeGood option in … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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  • Joe

    DonorCharge (www.donorcharge.com) launched in 2008 and does exactly this, allow merchants and shoppers to donate either a percentage or cents to charity. It’s tough for something to get national recognition when something is not based out of the valley, but something that allows merchants and shoppers to donate already exists and can be used along with SwipeGood in many instances. Micro-Giving is a great new, concept and there is room for more than one in my opinion.

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