Innovation

Make Giving to Charity as Easy as Typing a Hashtag 

by Aarian Marshall

August 26, 2015
image via youtube screen capture

Last summer, donating to charity momentarily became cooler than, well, almost anything. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ripped through social media, with users challenging friends and family to either raise money for ALS research or dump an ice-cold bucket of water over their heads. The viral campaign ended up raising an amazing $115 million for the ALS Association. But what if donating to that cause were as easy as simply firing off a tweet?

That’s the world envisioned by the startup GoodWorld, which launched last year and has since raised $1.65 million in seed funding. For the 200 nonprofits that have signed up for GoodWorld’s service—including UNICEF, the American Red Cross, No Kid Hungry, and, yes, the ALS Association—receiving donations has become faster, form-free, and much more social. 

Users of the service (GoodWorld reports that are now 4,000 across Facebook and Twitter) only have to register their credit card information with the startup once. After that, donating is just a few finger taps away.

On Facebook, users contribute with by using the hashtag “donate” (#donate) on a participating non-profit’s Facebook page, followed by the amount they’d like to give. On Twitter, users will trigger a donation when they tweet at a nonprofit using #donate and their desired amount. (So, to send a shiny 100 bucks, tweet: @[my favorite charity] #donate $100.)

People hate to click links. They’ll sit there on Facebook and ask questions all day long but they won’t click and follow a link.

GoodWorld takes a 4.8 percent cut of each donation made through social media, and an additional 2.2 percent of the contribution goes to the participant’s credit card company. But in an interview with the Washington Post, a number of non-profit heads reported that the small fees were well worth it.

“People hate to click links. They’ll sit there on Facebook and ask questions all day long but they won’t click and follow a link,” says Ryan Moore, with the Beagle Freedom Project. Moore says his animal protection organization has raised nearly $65,000 through its partnership with GoodWorld within just a few months.

Other organizations report that GoodWorld’s services are particularly useful in rapid-response situations, like disaster relief. No more scrambling across web pages trying to figure out how to give—users can simply navigate to their favorite social media platform.

GoodWorld says its next step is to make giving more like a game. If users were, say, competing to see whose friend network could raise more, the real winner would be the cause itself.

Meanwhile, organizations are searching for the next viral charity craze. As one ALS Association official told the Wall Street Journal, the Ice Bucket Challenge could have perhaps more than doubled the organization’s fundraising success had it been using GoodWorld at the beginning of the philanthropy phenomenon. 

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Make Giving to Charity as Easy as Typing a Hashtag