As a social enterprise, Sydney startup GiveEasy has faced a unique road gathering support for an app that streamlines sending donations to charity.
Jeffrey Tobias founded GiveEasy at the beginning of last year with a “vision of bringing the connected world ... to the charitable world,” according to his son and head of business development, Jeremy Tobias.
The startup, based in Bondi Junction, launched a mobile app for Apple devices in November last year and last week released an Android version. Users enter credit card details into the app once and can send donations to as many charities as they like.
After making a donation, users can announce it to their friends using the app’s social media sharing capabilities.
The mobile approach helps charities respond to a generation of users who are increasingly using mobile devices to connect to the Internet, said Tobias. “There was an interesting statistic that I saw that people are now spending just as much time on their laptop and their desktop as in [mobile] apps,” he said.
The GiveEasy app has more than 185 Australian charities and is currently adding one to two more per day, Tobias said. However, with 28,000 deductible gift recipient (DGR) charities in Australia online, there’s much room to grow, he said. “The vision is that Australians around the country can give to the charity of their choice.”
While the current group of charities are all Australian, GiveEasy has received interest in the app from charities in the US, UK and other parts of the world, he said.
GiveEasy uses Australia Post’s SecurePay for its payment gateway and has Macquarie Bank as its banking partner. “It’s all PCI-compliant and we’ve had no [security] issues.”
GiveEasy is a social enterprise, which means it can make a profit but can’t distribute it to shareholders. For that reason, it shares some of the same funding challenges as a not-for-profit.
“The value proposition from a venture capital point of view is slightly different for them investing in a fully for-profit business,” he said. “We haven’t actively looked for the venture capital style of investor.”
So far, founder Jeffrey Tobias has self-funded the business. “What we’re interested in is getting scale for the GiveEasy app in terms of whether a corporate wants to take it out as the future of giving,” said Jeremy Tobias. “We’re in discussions with a number of corporates around that.”
Tobias said the startup has received “excellent support” from Senator Ursula Stephens, who serves as parliamentary secretary for social inclusion and the voluntary sector. “She’s helped us with a number of contacts and tweets about GiveEasy on Twitter.”
“We’ve had thousands of downloads and thousands of donations,” said Tobias. “We’re extremely pleased with those numbers given that we’re six months in.”
The donations have ranged from $5 to $5000, with some one-off payments and others weekly, fortnightly and monthly, he said.
It’s free for charities to join, but GiveEasy takes a small percentage of each donation to cover back-office costs, Tobias said.
GiveEasy also sells a white-label version of its app to a few charities, he said. That has allowed charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Australia to place their own branding on the app but use GiveEasy’s payment platform to receive donations, he said.
Succeeding as any kind of startup in Australia is no easy task, said Tobias.
“It’s difficult for startups to get funding,” he said. “Raising money on the ASX is difficult enough, but if you’re unlisted and under the radar, it’s tough work.”
Tobias said it’s easy for startups to get drawn to Silicon Valley or other sophisticated startup markets where business valuations are higher and venture capital is more plentiful.
However, GiveEasy remains confident because it sees significant growth potential in the mobile payments sector, he said. “That space is really interesting, and there’s really a long way to go.”
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