Charitable giving gets a 21st century makeover to make donations soar
Do you love giving to your favorite charity but find the process of donation forms and email requests monotonous and annoying? The gamifying experts at Columbus’s GiveGame have an alternative for you. GiveGame turns charitable giving into a fantasy sports-style competition, allowing individuals and companies to set up contests that make donation fun. Participants pledge funds and then make picks on anything from football games to Academy Awards. If you win, you get to choose the charity that benefits.
“GiveGame uses major sports and pop culture events as a fundraising platform for individuals and nonprofits,” said founder Matt Golis. “It can be used by a company who wants to make it fun and engaging for their employees to give back to causes they care about. Before an event, a nonprofit, company or individual will share a link on social media that says, “Let’s play the Super Bowl!” or another event. The participants make picks and donate on the spot. Then, when the actual event begins, you can follow the leaderboard to see how your picks do.”
Games work similarly to the “pick’em” style of fantasy sports, along with multiple-choice questions, surveys and brackets. The biggest events are the usual suspects — the Super Bowl, March Madness or locally interesting games like the Memorial Tournament. But the team has also seen an uptick in reality television and non-sporting events like the Bachelor or awards shows. Users earn points for correct answers and climb the leaderboard, a method that’s much more interesting than taking money out of a paycheck or responding to monthly emails.
“In the case of the Super Bowl, we have ten questions like ‘Who’s going to score first?’ or ‘Who’s going to be the MVP?’” said Golis. “So you make your donation and then when the game begins, you have the fun of watching the leaderboard to see how your picks do. There’s no cash prize or any gambling aspect, it’s really just a much more fun and cool way to donate than using an online form or being asked for money over and over again.”
As engaging as the process may be, GiveGame isn’t just about entertainment. The platform also takes a smaller percentage in fees than many traditional donation methods, which allows more funding to end up with the nonprofits who need it.
“There’s no set-up or monthly fee and 90 percent of money donated goes directly to the cause,” said Golis. “We only have a 10 percent platform fee and we pay credit-card fees and payout fees to the nonprofit out of that, so the platform is really a bargain. Old-school fundraisers like school popcorn typically cost 25 to 50 percent, so it’s not a good return on investment. With GiveGame, we’ve made it easy for an organization to create a fundraiser that really benefits them.”
For Golis, helping those nonprofits is the ultimate goal. As he’s watched technology evolve, he noticed that many of the organizations who need donations the most are using outdated methods that draw less funding. And while a successful business is a nice bonus, that impact is at the core of the startup.
“I’m passionate about GiveGame because I’m really excited about the impact that we can make,” said Golis. “Charitable giving is a great example of where technology can revolutionize an industry that has struggled to reach millennial donors. Nonprofits have really been stuck in the dark ages when it comes to how they ask for money. We can use the power of social media to make it easy for people to share when they give and help get donations from people who have never supported a cause before.”
After spending 20 years in Silicon Valley, Golis returned to his home state to launch GiveGame. He said Ohio was the best fit because he could make the biggest positive impact while also minimizing costs and attracting local talent. Now that GiveGame is off the ground, he said he’s proud to be growing from home.
“Moving back to Ohio, I wanted to do something that could really make an impact and use my technology, internet and e-commerce experience to do some good in the world,” said Golis. “I know how many nonprofits and foundations are based here and how far the startup scene has come, so it really made the timing great to be able to come back. This felt like my opportunity to really make a mark. In Ohio you know that if it works, it can really have a huge impact. I am an enormous champion of Columbus because of the opportunity, affordability and access to talent here.”