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No More Excuses: Now You Can Donate To A Cause With A Retweet

Forget impulse shopping. It’s about time impulse donations became a thing.

No More Excuses: Now You Can Donate To A Cause With A Retweet
[Illustration: Daniel Salo]

Donating to a cause just became so easy that even slacktivists now have no excuse. All you have to do to donate to nonprofits that use a new platform called Charitweet is send out a tweet, or even easier, simply hit retweet.

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“We look at it as the next evolution of text donations,” says 23-year-old co-founder Charles Huang. “We want to make it so easy to donate that all you have to do is think about donating and it’s already done.”

Huang, along with three two other fellow MIT graduates, co-founded the company after a frustrating experience trying to donate to Wikipedia, a nonprofit he gives to every year. Huang clicked on a 2013 fundraising email from his mobile device, but found himself on an unoptimized mobile site, zooming around to find the donate button and then struggling to fill out a tedious form. That same week, he also shopped for and purchased a vacuum cleaner on Amazon within minutes.

“I just thought: I am an annual donor. I was ready to give you my money. How did you stop me? Meanwhile, I just barely had half a thought about buying something, and Amazon was ready to take my money.”

It’s a revelation many founders of payment startups have experienced. But not enough of this innovation has focused on the nonprofit sector, Huang believes.

Charitweet works with vetted nonprofits to run fundraising campaigns. When a first-time user clicks on the Charitweet tweet-to-donate button or retweets someone else who has, that person sends out a tweet as usual and also gets a notification in Twitter to fill out basic credit card information to complete the donation.

After the first time, all tweeted donations to any charity on Charitweet are processed automatically (though you do get a confirmation email, and can retract in case the donation was accidental). The platform only takes credit cards, not Paypal, since redirecting to Paypal and adding another page would reduce conversions, Huang says.

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The site, which is for-profit and takes a relatively high 5.9% commission plus a flat fee per transaction, processed its first live donation in February. So far there are about 40 nonprofits signed up, including the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Charitweet is also working with Fidelity Charitable to find higher-value donors that can match smaller donations. So far they’ve processed just a few hundred donations, but hope to start scaling-up today, with a big push for the “Giving Tuesday” holiday. Getting people to trust the process enough to give their credit card details away on Twitter may be one barrier, however. Huang says they are focused on building a brand that “exudes trust and security.”

This fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants donation style that Charitweet encourages is one that may be well-suited to younger people, who are less likely to focus on giving lots of money to a single cause to establish their giving legacy, Huang says. “We’d like to see people in their twenties and thirties give $5 here and $10 there.”

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.

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