Social Good Network Helps Nonprofits Get More Donations

April 18, 2013

11:00 am

According to the Social Good Network, about 47 percent of people who go to donate to a nonprofit end up giving up. That’s a lot of lost money that the Boise startup wants to put in the hands of worthy causes.

Social Good Network’s offerings start with a better donation button for nonprofits’ websites. Instead of leading to a payment portal, it pops up a video about why you should donate. Once you do, you see a thank you video. Nonprofits can install this button simply by dropping some code into their website. And they can get a customized Facebook donation app, all for only 4 percent in fees (plus 30 cents per transaction).

To encourage more donations by individuals, Social Good Network gives users points for shopping at places like Target, Gap, and Expedia. Those points can be turned into donations to 1.6 million different nonprofits.

Russ Stoddard, who has advised nonprofits like the YMCA and the National Endowment for the Arts, cofounded Social Good Network with Antonia Chappel, formerly of TiVo. Below, he talks about his startup journey and doing good.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?

Russ Stoddard: Investors shy away from anything having to do with nonprofits, they don’t favor older entrepreneurs, and working distant from capital markets makes funding and recruiting tougher.

Tech Cocktail: How do you keep your team motivated at the office?

Stoddard: Hire self-starters, have some fun, and communicate.

Tech Cocktail: What common startup advice do you completely disagree with?

Stoddard: That a startup is about working harder more than it is about working smarter.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the best entrepreneurship book you’ve read and why?

Stoddard: The best book on entrepreneurship I’ve read isn’t printed – it’s the oral histories provided by entrepreneurial mentors.

Tech Cocktail: If you had an extra $1,000 to spend on marketing, what would you do?

Stoddard: Create a matching-donation crowdfunding campaign to stimulate online giving for a worthy cause.

Tech Cocktail: What’s your biggest personal weakness and how do you make up for it?

Stoddard: Time’s your most precious asset, and I give mine away, for free, all the time. I don’t make up for it. I accept it as who I am.

Tech Cocktail: What keeps you motivated on the hard days?

Stoddard: The fact that what I’m doing every single day – online fundraising for causes – helps people, pets, and places that are in much tougher spots than I am.

Tech Cocktail: What do you wish someone had told you about startup life? 

Stoddard: That finding developers would be so hard – they are the secret sauce that brings ideas to life and it’s incredibly hard to find them.

Tech Cocktail: What personality trait has served you the best as an entrepreneur?

Stoddard: A positive attitude and ability to move forward by embracing change on a daily basis.

Tech Cocktail: How do you unwind on the weekend?

Stoddard: A cup of coffee, the Sunday New York Times, and a bike ride.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most encouraging sign of success you’ve seen so far?

Stoddard: Online fundraisers are using our tools to significantly increase donations – and they’re telling other causes about Social Good Network.

Tech Cocktail: What’s your crazy, long-term, huge vision?

Stoddard: To motivate individuals, companies and governments to do more good in the world by measuring and rewarding socially good actions.

Tech Cocktail: Why should I use your product, in 140 characters or fewer?

Stoddard: Our “go-anywhere” fundraising increases donations with dynamic storytelling and social sharing that reaches supporters on any website.

Tech Cocktail: If your startup were an animal, which one would it be and why?

Stoddard: A dolphin: smart, fast, social, communicative, and caring.

Tech Cocktail: If your startup were a cocktail, which one would it be and why?

Stoddard: A Manhattan, because it’s like our first-of-a-kind web apps. It was the first to use vermouth as a modifier, it delivers a fantastic user experience, and because, like our compelling storytelling, it is always stirring, never shaken.

Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you?

Stoddard: I love to jump – and I love my red jumpsuit!

Social Good Network photo

Social Good Network was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Boise mixer.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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