DonationPay on Social Good and How We Got Started (Part 2)

dp.png

By Angelina Strosahl (Co-Founder, DonationPay) Being a mission-based business that is in the process of expansion can be a tricky minefield to navigate. Staying true to our vision of the company, product and service is difficult when you’re also weighing all the factors necessary to effectively grow.

Me, Noah and the rest of our powerhouse DonationPay team are all devoted, truly, to helping non-profit organizations reach their fundraising goals. Noah and I founded DonationPay because we happened into a relationship with a banking partner that would offer technical services to our non-profit clients for next to nothing and because, as a web development team, we knew that there was enormous frustration in the non-profit sector with the available options for online fundraising.

We’re not business school students, or cutthroat serial entrepreneurs or numbers wunderkinds or anything like that -- we’re two people who have worked within and been deeply connected to the non-profit sector for many years and we founded DonationPay to alleviate some anxiety in the industry around the next frontier of online fundraising.

Noah and I don’t believe that the future of non-profit fundraising is in elite service providers like Convio and BlackBaud, who do great work for the kinds of extreme sums that only very robustly funded non-profits have at their disposal.

Rather, we believe that the services available to the midsize non-profit is where the changes and growth in the industry will be reflected: user-friendly, comprehensive and affordable fundraising services available to organizations of all sizes (and budgets) is what we’re all about!

As such, we’re dedicated to offering better, friendlier service, for less, to non-profits who want to improve their online fundraising capabilities and boost their web presence. Most of our wonderful clients already know this, our origin story, but it’s been on my mind during the past week. I met many incredible women and men who are also working to grow businesses at the forefront of industries impacted by the changing Internet landscape and, like DonationPay, are constantly adapting to the rapid migration of all personal processes and sectors to the online format.

The truth about DonationPay is that we’ve spent an enormous amount of time and care developing a better product -- a product shaped in large part by feedback from development directors and other non-profit staff. The lions share of the work here was for us to build an internal infrastructure that would allow us to catalogue each built-to-order feature we developed with the input of real non-profits, for use on future fundraising pages.

We’ve ended up with a cutting edge system that allows us to build custom pages with incredible efficiency and customization, while keeping the cost to our clients extremely manageable. Our library of available features grows weekly and one of the truest joys of the job is being able to build a functionality to order for one client with an innovative fundraising plan, then see that same feature put to use on other client pages, boosting everyone’s donation volume. Of course, the credit-card processing component of our business is not always 100% under our control, but our banking partner offers many technical features (including their Payment Gateway and individual Merchant Accounts for all our clients) that are invaluable to our client’s online development.

This is our favorite part: the building, the strategizing, the forward motion, the page creation, the incredible work our client organizations are doing that we get to be a part of.

That said, there are many other elements of DonationPay that aren’t client-facing: the expansion plans and staffing, the systems development, the investment fundraising, the ongoing and constant negotiation with our banking partner, the beyond-our-control changing rates and regulations in the card-processing industry and many other components that I will not bore you with here.

At Astia, I was so relieved to dig into these parts of our business and the support and whip-smart nature of the community there got me thinking about transparency in business development. Engaging in Astia’s curriculum gave me the time and space to take a deep-dive look into our company’s structure, financial plan, organizing principles and growth strategy and I started to feel that we should be adhering to the transparency principles I have, time and again on this blog, referred to as a crucial element of best practices for building a sustaining donor base. Transparency is a conceptually essential part of any fundraising plan, for any organization.

Donors need to know where their money is going -- why and how and what and when, too. To put your support dollars behind an organization requires a leap of faith; fundraising transparency makes that leap a manageable hop and closes the gap between the call and the action.

Similarly, I thought that because we’ve been so blessed to work with our ever-expanding roster of clients, I should use this format to share what’s happening on the administrative end of DonationPay and to make some commitments about the future of our service.

» Read the full article at DonationPay's blog. About the guest blogger: Angelina "AJ" Strosahl is Co-Founder of DonationPay, an innovative, affordable and agile online fundraising service for non-profit organizations and community groups. She blogs about the non-profit sector, with a focus on technology, social network marketing and other random stuff that strikes her fancy. Angelina is passionate about helping non-profits optimize their online fundraising potential. When she's not at work, she's usually playing Scrabble, writing, or hiking with her dogs. Contact her at aj@donationpay.org.