More and more companies are offering employee engagement programs within their benefits package. It is a winning benefit for the employee, the company, the nonprofits and those the nonprofits serve. While there are multiple platform providers that support employee engagement programs there is only one that has always ensured that no portion of the donation is deducted to cover the platform providers’ operational expense…YourCause.
Matt Combs is Founder and CEO of YourCause, LLC. He has been involved in start-ups since graduating from Cornell in 1999. The year of 2007 spawned an idea that changed his life. A boy named Patrick, a former child soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), shared his story on a cable documentary that stopped Matt in his tracks. ‘What can I do?’ was one his first thoughts. With a background in internet and technology, the idea led him to launch YourCause.com. Originally a B to C platform, in 2009 the concept of YourCause shifted to the enterprise space and became the first technology provider to globally consolidate core Employee Engagement programs within a white label platform to build online communities for corporate programs—Kelly Eisenhardt.
Can you share with our readers how YourCause was started and describe the mission?
Back in 2007, I came home early and saw an episode of Dateline NBC that caught my attention. There was this little boy living in Uganda who was forced into being a child soldier. I couldn’t turn away from the TV as they described the atrocities the child was being forced to commit for the army. It shook me to my core.
As a dad myself, I sat there thinking, “Are you kidding me? Is this the world we live in?” I started thinking about how we all get caught up in our own day-to-day and don’t realize how lucky we are and how unfortunate others are.
The story of this boy compelled me to reach out to everyone I knew to ask for support in helping via donations to solve the problems this boy and his village faced. As I started collecting donations, it dawned on me that I didn’t know where to send the donations to help the child soldiers. If I didn’t have this knowledge how many other potential donors faced the same dilemma? Right then I decided to build a platform in which others who desperately wanted to help could easily connect with a cause and donate. That’s how YourCause was born.
YourCause’s employee engagement platform is called CSRconnect, what does it do?
CSRconnect is a platform that enables users to create a profile, log on, and search for causes they care about. Once they find a cause to support, they can decide to make donations or sign up for a volunteer event. The system is agile enough that by tracking activities of all kinds, we can enable people to respond to disasters or pick causes closer to their home. It’s important to us that people find causes that matter most to them.
How does YourCause set itself apart from competitors in this space?
Simple, YourCause does not take a percentage of the donation. When we started YourCause we wanted to create a model that was better than the models out there. We looked at who was already taking donations and payments and we realized that almost every service out there was taking a percentage of the donation as an operational fee. This was not acceptable to us. I always felt that I didn’t want to interfere with the generosity of donors. Here is why: If I told you I could buy 1000 vaccines at a dollar a piece and you wanted to give me $1000, buying 1000 vaccines, based on the models of other companies that take a processing fee upwards of 5% per donation, we would only be able to buy 9,500 vaccines thus reducing the intended donation by 500 vaccines.
How does YourCause enable nonprofits to invest more of their dollars into their missions?
Nonprofits are offered a portal that guides them on finding donor information, as well as helping them set up volunteer events. Think of it as a powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for nonprofits that provides them with a way to handle donor management in their organization.
In a nutshell, the platform levels the playing field between the big nonprofits and the smaller nonprofits that often do not have the funding, resources, or capabilities that the larger nonprofits have to communicate to potential donors and raise money.
Can you tell us about YourCause’s 2015 Performance?
Earlier in the year, we released our 2015 Performance Review. The goal of the review is to remain transparent in the overall operations of YourCause and CSRconnect’s performance. We know that many factors go into positive performance numbers but transparency means we also share if the numbers go down. We believe all the data should be exposed to educate our industry and ourselves.
As a result we see that YourCause does not follow the tech industry gender norm as our staff is 57% female. We see year over year that our diversity in gender and ethnicity far exceeds the industry norm and continues to grow in double digits.
The Performance Review also highlighted that democratizing giving has continued to increase by way of the 77,000 plus charities that received donations. When you are processing over $361 million dollars in donations and facilitating 8.5 million volunteer hours it is a must to understand your platform performance growth.
Have you rolled CSRconnect out globally and if so, to how many countries?
As of 2016, there are 150 companies that have access to our platform.
We’ve noticed that there are differences between the United States and other countries when it comes to giving. The United States overall gives more money than any other country. The majority of donations in other countries are measured in hours of volunteerism. Abroad, more people are able and willing to give more of their time than money. I’m not sure if it is a cultural thing or guided more philosophies on giving. The world statistics are not equal when it comes to financial donations.
What would you estimate the total giving dollars to be for 2016 and what can we read into the statistics?
In 2015, the total for donations through our system was $360 million. We expect that number to surpass $500 million in 2016. It is clear that we have unleashed people’s generosity to give.
It’s not only about the statistics, it’s about impact. You can check out some of the case studies on our website https://csrconnect.me/the-yourcause-difference to get a better understanding of the impact and magnitude of our work.
Organizations are able to do great work with our help. For example, there was $379,652.55 donated to Charity Water. In 2015, they were able to provide clean water to 1,055 people for a year with the money. Another example would be Doctors Without Borders. They received $1,634,658 which enabled them to buy vaccines to help fight against meningitis, measles, polio, and other deadly diseases. We are doing great work with this platform by providing a pathway for people to pick charities they care most about and want to financially support.
What is the best way for companies and nonprofits to leverage the CSRconnect platform and how can readers learn more?
The starting point is to determine the person in your organization who has responsibility for philanthropy, giving, and employee engagement. Look for your human resource person, a community manager, head of donations, or employee engagement coordinator. Have that person or group contact us at YourCause and we can discuss connecting your company to the platform.
We have a client testimonial page http://csrconnect/testimonials/ where you can read more about how others have used the system to help them find causes that matter to them and donate appropriately. Go ahead to our website http://csrconnect.me to learn more how you too can help those in need around the world.