Enter FaaS: Fundraising As A Service

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I almost never give money to street fundraisers. You know, those guys making eye contact with you, waving a friendly hand and asking for “just a minute of your time”?

Well, I use to do that job back in Sydney, Australia, in early 2008. I was a street fundraiser for some time, then I did quit to find another job. It’s a really hard job, kudos to everyone out there making a living through street fundraising: It’s probably one of the best Sales School you can get together with door to door selling.

But the logic behind it is not so great. In Australia, street fundraising companies will craft a deal with a non-for-profit company in order to fundraise on their behalf. We (company & employees) use to get 50 cents on the dollar fundraised. All those good folks supporting NSW Surf Live Saving where giving half of their money to the fundraising logistics.

My generation seems to be a bit reluctant to donate money the old fashion way: Street fundraising and “money in the envelope” style. Since then, I found that a model emerged that will be game changer to NGO in the years to come, I’ve name it FaaS: Fundraising as a Service.


Scott Harrisson, a former New York based party promoter, left his party lifestyle to go be an NGO photographer in Africa for two years before starting charity:water in 2006.

He had a 51-minute chat with Kevin Rose (Google Venture) about his full story, and how he got to create charity:water. Scott has had quite an eventful journey that led him to start this charity, a “from zero-to-hero” redemption story that only America (Hollywood?) can offer…

charity:water is a very interesting NGO for a couple of reasons:

Use of social media. Most charities haven’t been successfully harnessing social media to extend their footprints. charity:water is using Kickstarter-style campaign approach to fundraising. Individuals are encouraged to join causes and fundraising through their extended networks.

For instance, you can Pledge your birthday (e.g. Ask your network to donate $30 each for your 30th birthday). They also update donors on the actual effect of their donation, using Google Maps geolocation to map wells, and Twitter to follow drilling efforts.

Transparency is #1. When you give to charity, you are not always sure of how much goes to operations vs the cause you want to support. charity:water published its financial reports and operates two separate bank accounts: 100% of public donations fund clear water projects, while operations are funded by private donors.

I came across several platforms that let you fundraise for one-off events, such as marathons or special events. I am convinced that the traditional way of mail/street fundraising can be dramatically improved, it is impressive to see such a well rounded charity operating as a start-up.

Other start-ups, such as razoo, give you two option: you can be a donate OR a fundraise, offering a full platform to fundraise (Fundraising as a serive, FaaS ?) for a 2.9% “rate”. It’s not 100% to charity, but they still raised over $105,000,000 for charity…

How about nonprofit increase focus on fundraising enablement?

The way those startup communicate, act and expand is appealing to the Y-generation, I wish them all the best!

-Rodolphe (initially published on dutel.fr)


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