Despite the fact nearly half of Americans can’t come up with $400 for an emergency, everyday people are powering a great philanthropic boom. In recent years, as much as 70% of contributions in the U.S. have come from individual donations.
If you’re reading this, though, chances are you’re not regularly writing checks and licking stamps. And if you are, well, surely you wish there were an easier way. You’re literally trying to give your money away, so why can’t giving be as easy as paying back a friend who picked up the dinner tab?
“It’s a horrifying stat, but somewhere between 60% and 90% of people who start to fill out their name, address, credit card, and phone number drop off before they actually finish donating,” says Andrew Forman.
Forman, a former investment banker, is the founder of Givz, a new free app, available for both Apple and Android devices, that simplifies the giving experience. It’s like Venmo, but for charity.
The app (and web portal) connects you almost instantly to more than 1.6 million registered U.S. charities, searchable both by name or unique, federal employer identification number (EIN). Its roster includes all of the most recognizable names in the industry, from Habitat for Humanity to Charity:Water, as well as lesser-known but equally impactful agencies like Everytown for Gun Safety and the Innocence Project.
Payment works exactly as it does anywhere else on the internet, either by entering credit card or bank account information. From a bang-for-buck standpoint, Forman says, the latter is optimal–not for his benefit, but for the charity on the receiving end.
Givz is what Forman calls a 0% platform, meaning that the company doesn’t take any money from your donation, even to keep the lights on (they rely on optional donor tips). But any donations made with a debit or credit card are subject to industry-standard processing fees from its payment partner, Stripe: 2.2% of the total plus $0.30 for Visa and Mastercard (it’s slightly more expensive with American Express). Taking the time to enter your bank account information just once reduces those fees significantly–to a flat 0.8%.
Every donation is tax deductible and comes with receipts from both Givz and the Social Good Fund, its partner donor-advised fund. To assuage concerns about the model, since DAFs are often used by millionaires as tax shelters (since there is no legal requirement to pay funds to qualified charities, ever), Forman says that the Social Good Fund receives, holds, and disburses all donations “at the end of every month, no matter what.”
And while the median donation on the app is around $40, it’s designed to inspire giving on a micro scale.
“There should be no shame in donating $5, or donating $10. The only minimum donation that we have right now is $0.50,” since credit card processing fees begin to eat into anything less than that, Forman tells Fast Company. “We want to encourage people to get in the habit of making donations, even if you can only donate a dollar. Every little bit helps.”
For the multitasking, always-on-the-go, social native millennials, Givz has an “Everywhere” feature that creates a shareable campaign link–for placement in, say, Instagram or Twitter bios–to get friends, family, and followers involved. Forman says this feature was tested in a pilot with the NFL, streamlining the donation process during last year’s Salute to Service campaign, which honors veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families. It’s also been used by a couple of male models, including Jared P. Smith, who donated $5 to charity every time he posted a shirtless photo in 2018.
Givz’s tagline is “Giving Made Smart,” and it has obvious potential for big brands and influencers. But its greatest offering is its simplicity, already attracting users of all ages.
“We’ve actually caught some virality in the 80-plus market,” Forman says. The app’s oldest known power user is 89 years old, pushed to take his 2018 holiday season giving online by his 82-year-old wife in Long Island. He made 40 donations in under an hour.
That is, in essence, the promise of Givz. Once payment information is saved, using Givz is really is as easy as ordering dinner on Seamless or another 12 rolls of toilet paper from Amazon.
It’s easy to imagine firing off a few dollars to the nonprofit behind the next punchy tweet in your timeline. Or reading another heartrending headline about this administration’s war on women and sending $20 to the so-called social justice warriors fighting the good fight. Or, as the credits roll during a Netflix documentary about a startup making sanitary pads for women and girls in India, picking up your phone and donating to the Pad Project, the California-based charity behind it. (That’s exactly what I did.)
“We live in a world with marketplaces and one-click transactions for everything under the sun–you point, you click, and you’re done. You should be able to do that in your philanthropic life as well. We need to bring giving into the 21st century,” Forman says.
“Giving has a real, positive effect on the human psyche, on the brain. Giving $5 here and $5 there is one thing. But if you get 100,000 people doing that, you’re now talking serious cash that can actually change some things.”