Philanthroper: A Daily Deal Site for Charities

A new daily "deal" site lets you donate $1 to a different charity every day. But just $1. The hope is that it's habit-forming.

We've reported in the past how the daily deal darling Groupon has its roots in a charity fundraising platform. Now that Groupon is focused on good deals and not good causes, a few social entrepreneurs are taking the daily deal trend in a pro-social direction. Meet Philanthroper.

The new "deal" site launched yesterday to "make doing good a habit." Each day Philanthroper will tell the story of a different small nonprofit in hopes that fickle internet surfers will click 'give' the way they click 'like,' or treat donating how they treat buying a mobile app.

"I wanted to modernize the world of donation to appeal to today’s internet culture," said founder Mark Wilson, a reporter for outlets like Gizmodo and Esquire. "Just 'liking' a charity on Facebook doesn’t exactly pay the bills," said Wilson in a statement.

One dollar doesn't exactly pay the bills either, but that's all you are allowed to give through Philanthroper. "You simply can’t appeal to the average Twitter user to donate $25 on a whim," said Wilson. And since he's trying to build a giving habit, not get you to give just once or twice a year, limiting the donation can have a greater impact in the long run.

There are a few plausible ways that could happen, like if the average user gives every other day, or learns the joys of generosity after a few weeks of impulse donating and becomes a life-long philanthropist for example. Habits are powerful forces, so Philanthroper has tried to lower the barriers to make giving routine.

“Philanthroper is all about simplicity. With one button you donate one dollar, and all but one cent goes directly to a great cause,” Wilson said. This micro-approach is only possible because Philantropher negotiated a deal with payment processor mPayy to charge just a one percent transaction fee. That's lower than the three or five percent fees on many other platforms Philanthroper talked with, and much less than the 25 percent or more many nonprofits often have to pay for money raised through third party fundraisers and credit card donations.

Philanthroper itself will be supported by ads, though currently there are no advertisers on the site, just banners inviting companies to "sponsor now."

Philanthroper is just starting, so it's tiny. Yesterday's deal on launch day pulled in about $200. But that's OK. The charities chosen are small too. And that's deliberate. The website declares: "These nonprofits tend to be young, growing and in need of every extra dollar they can get." Most will be under $1 million in annual revenues. That kind of charity is the hardest to identify and the hardest to vet. Watching how Philanthroper builds a network of quality causes will be interesting, and hopefully not too costly.

You can submit your nonprofit to be considered for Philanthroper at the bottom of their page here. And while you're at it, you can head over to Groupon and tell them to more prominently feature a few nonprofits themselves.

NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

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