Charitable giving is alive and well in the United States. Individuals, bequests, foundations and businesses donated an estimated $ 471.44 billion to U.S. charities in 2020, according to the Giving USA Foundation. Yet even more people would dig into their wallets to make charitable donations if there was a reliable and easier way to do so.
This is what inspired the founding of Indianapolis-based Givelify, an online and mobile donation platform launched by its founder and CEO of Nigerian immigrants Walle Mafolasire and co-founder Tayo Adamuyiwa in 2013. “I found myself sitting in the church, and the plate offering came over. I grabbed my wallet, it had maybe $ 3 in it. I knew I wanted to give up more than $ 3. timidly put the $ 3 and I passed the plate to the next person, ”explains Mafolasire.
He tried going to the Church’s website, but had trouble finding it on Google. When he found the correct Apostolic Church of Faith listing, he navigated to the donations page, which turned out to be a long and complicated form that was not suitable for use on his cell phone. He found that his desire to give during these inspiring moments was challenged by the technology of the time.
“I remember when I felt like I had to do something about it. A friend of mine who volunteered for this organization invited me to his fundraising gala. Somewhere during the event, I start to hear about the organization’s mission and I feel inspired and obligated to want to support this organization, ”explains Mafolasire. Yet even though the organization had a mobile device with a Square reader to accept credit cards, the queue to donate was long. He decided to leave and fill out a pledge card when he had time.
After several of these incidents, he then vowed to do something. “Dude, I see these ads. There’s an app for this, and there’s an app for that. There must be an app for stupid people like me, who if we don’t act at the time of the inspiration, we’re losing this moment. I went to the app store and couldn’t find any. I’m like, “You know what? I’m a computer scientist, I could probably figure out how to do that. “And so, I decided to go ahead and build this thing,” says Mafolasire.
He and a few friends from Indianapolis University did just that. Today, Givelify is a platform that has helped over a million people move from a moment of inspiration to real giving to support their favorite churches, places of worship, nonprofits and causes. with nearly $ 3 billion in donations to more than 55,000 organizations. And while there are now plenty of donation apps to choose from, Givelify leads all donation apps on the App Store and Google Play Store with over 90,000 Verified Genuine Reviews with an average rating of 4. , 9 out of 5 stars.
Yet the path to starting a business was more difficult than just having the technical know-how to build an app. He had to find a way around taking 30% of Apple Stores, which he did, and then he had to convince charities to accept his app for their charitable giving. As he convinced the pastor of his church to accept him and it started to develop through word of mouth, convincing others who did not know Mafolasire was more difficult.
“How do you help them realize that yes you are a young company and yes the founder is named after the Nigerian prince but it is a reputable company and you can trust him? And it was a very fun and interesting time to try to find a balance between the complexity of a new brand handling donations and the confidence to make it happen, ”said Mafolasire.
To grow and grow the business, it took funding he initially hoped would come from venture capital funds, but those efforts failed. “I started to introduce investors and I remember I introduced investors to Indianapolis, and they said no. So I’m like, “You know what? Forget Indianapolis, I’ll try Austin. I’ve heard that the investors out there are more progressive. And then I would go there and they all said no. I went to San Francisco I heard they write checks for anything as long as you have an idea.
Without traditional means of funding, Mafolasire, always positive and persistent, turned to friends and members of his religious community, who used their credit cards, savings and 401k investments to get Givelify off the ground because they believed in its mission. “These are the other heroes in this story. Sure, the donor community is the hero, but there is a group of people who might support the idea of putting more good into the world who also deserve to be recognized in this story, ”says Mafolasire. Many of its early investors also came to work at Givelify along the way.
Givelify’s platform has not only helped increase charitable giving, but has also shed light on the donor community. According to company statistics, of the 25 million donations, the average donor gives $ 8,000 per year – eight times the US average for charitable giving, with the majority of donors coming from black and brown communities. In the spirit of wanting to learn more about how and why people donate to charity, Givelify has formed a partnership with the University of Indiana School of Philanthropy.
As for the future, Mafolasire hopes to expand the usefulness of the platform to include the possibility of volunteering, so that people can give of their time and effort in addition to monetary donations. “We define good as yes, sometimes the money also goes a long way, but sometimes it’s time and your talent. And how do you use it to bring more good to the world? And directionally, that’s where Givelify is going. And this new brand is about knowing how to show that to the world, ”concludes Mafolasire.