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You Can Now Sign Your Emails By Encouraging People To Donate To Charity

Every email sent with a banner ad generated by Aidbox will funnel a small donation toward a cause of the sender’s choice.

You Can Now Sign Your Emails By Encouraging People To Donate To Charity
[Photo: courtesy Aidbox]

There’s very little that’s inspirational about sending an email these days unless you’re the sort of person that likes to add a little flare by tossing in a quote, song lyric, or even a Bible verse below your signature. Aidbox, a Swedish digital marketing company, is now competing for the space with a bigger way to uplift folks: The company has launched a banner ad service that allows email senders to add a clickable message about the charity of their choice at the bottom of each missive, which will appear alongside a corporate sponsor.

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For corporate sponsors, it’s a new way to ensure their logos get seen–and in association with a good cause–so they’ve agreed to make a small contribution to the associated charity for each email that gets sent. The idea is for senders to raise awareness for causes they support and drive contributions without having to use their own money.

Companies should like the idea, too, because it taps into marketing dollars, not money that they might already be setting aside for charitable donations. The company won’t disclose exactly how much is donated per email sent but expects that each user will be able to generate about $20 per month of additional funding. The goal for 2018 is to raise $5 million for various cause groups. As the dealmaker and platform provider, Aidbox, which is for-profit, charges companies 50% of the total money collected.

Aidbox founder and CEO Daniel Lundh tells Fast Company he came up with the idea after realizing that while people may often donate immediately after things like natural disasters, the giving power of corporations is probably far larger and could be harnessed to do a lot more if tapped on a regular basis. Lundh’s goal: “Build a vehicle for everyone to become a philanthropist regardless of their time and income,” he says over email. “Be able to [aid] a charity without opening your own wallet.”

For now, the launch has the feel of a large beta test. The group is starting with just one partnership: nonprofit Beyond Type 1, a diabetes awareness and management charity cofounded by musician Nick Jonas and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Juliet de Baubigny, among others. Its associated sponsors, whose names will rotate in a left-hand margin beside the Beyond Type 1 logo and some basic messaging, are Degoo, an online automatic backup company, and Care2, an online advocacy site.

Of course, many nonprofits create banners that senders can embed in their email, too. The difference is that Aidbox generates funds from the sponsor whenever an email is sent. To do that, senders must sign up for Aidbox access and then copy and paste an available banner into their signature line. The service keeps track of email frequency with a cookie that shows the IP address of where each message is being sent, but not the exact email or contents of the message.

For the Beyond Type 1 campaign, clicking the ad redirects email recipients to a homepage with more information on all parties involved. The goal is to raise awareness and perhaps additional funds: Beyond Type 1 is in the midst of a fall fundraising campaign. In addition, Care2 has started a digital petition calling for the CDC to release diabetes data in a more understandable fashion, by specifying trends via each metabolic disease type instead of just as a whole.

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Lundh is coy about which other organizations have signed on to use the service, although he expects to announce new partners later this fall or winter–ideally with just one or two groups per cause area to keep the options from becoming overwhelming.

Like all ad sales, Lundh expects the charitable promotions to run for a limited time until the sum that each company has set aside to donate has been made, or a fundraising time limit has been reached. At that point, the ads will disappear from the signature line, and users will be asked if they’d like to add another. The additional messaging auto-populates, but can be easily deleted from any email if needed.

For his part, Lundh calls this offering “truly a unique ad unit.” That’s not exactly the sort of mantra that would fly at the end of an email, though, so the company has tweaked it. “MY INBOX WORKS FOR CHARITY. YOURS SHOULD TOO,” reads the new post-script atop each banner ad.

About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.

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