Donative inspires relationships between charities and donors

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Laurie Ainley, Founder of Donative, has big ideas for the charity sector. After experiencing his own frustrations with giving money to charities and not receiving feedback on how it was spent in a desirable format, he set out to change things. Follow Innovation met with Laurie to hear about his journey.

“We want to get younger people engaged with charities and move away from the hard selling telephone tactics which have been shown to be irritating to the public, particularly over the last 12 months. Fundraising practices haven’t really updated in the last 30/35 years, and we believe that we can update this and inspire donors to have a real relationship with their charities, one that is born out of inspiration rather than being guilt-driven.”

Donative allows the user to set up a monthly payment (a one-off payments feature is launching soon), which they can split between charities. The donor then receives stories from the charities that they have helped, giving real success stories and showing how the money gets used. The platform is designed with the customer experience in mind. In the past, if you were donating to a number of charities each month and you wanted to change the amount given, you’d have to speak to your bank, cancel the direct debits and then set up new ones. Through Donative, you can change your donation each month by simply moving a slider up or down.

Laurie explained how, as well as fundraising practices, the way the public rate charities’ work is typically unrealistic:

“The public often judge charities’ effectiveness on overhead; you’ll typically see a pie chart on charities’ websites with a breakdown of admin costs. Public perception is, and to be honest in the past my own perception was also, that you should try to get that down as small as possible – the more money that is spent ‘in the field’ the better, but really that’s a myth. It’s the only sector where you think about results in that way. What you really want is the biggest impact for your money, and so as long as  the impact is greatest, it doesn’t always matter exactly how much money goes where”

Laurie founded Donative in June of 2015, and they joined the accelerator MassChallenge in June of the same year. “One of the great things about MassChallenge is we are on a desk with four other startups and when you have issues you can speak to someone who has gone through those things before” Laurie told us.

Donative has been in testing with a small community and is looking to roll out across a wider network over the next few months. Laurie explained that rather than a ‘big bang’ launch, they would be rolling it out gradually over time. “What we’ve found successful is leveraging other networks. For example, if we’re writing about say the 5 most impactful charities, by tagging them and tweeting at them you’re leveraging their audience to start following you. One of the things we’re doing is building groups of charities in certain sectors, and then we go to members of that sector and say if you fancy giving something back and you want to give a certain amount of money a month we’ll split that between a selection of charities. The common link could really be anything, it could be an area of London or charities endorsed by a celebrity. Connecting with communities that already exist is a really powerful way to get to scale quicker.”

We asked Laurie what excited him most about the future. He told us “There’s an estimation of a huge shortfall in income in the charity sector over the next few years, and so there’s an opportunity to revolutionise a sector at a time when it’s really critical. We’re trying something new; if you’re fed up with being stopped in the street or harassed on the phone, or with getting post from charities that you just don’t read, we are pioneering something that’s a completely different way of doing things. We’ve also got open ears and would just love people to sign up and let us know their thoughts.”

You can explore the platform for yourself here.