Givebacks is a technology company that has been providing commmunity-based nonprofit organizations such as PTAs, Booster Clubs, and School Foundations with tools for fundraising management, communication, and organizing since 2017. Through the Givebacks software platform, organizations can access helpful fundraising tools such as online "a-thons," raffles, sweepstakes, an online store for supporters, and many other features.
The Givebacks leadership team had a vision to improve on how community-based nonprofits were raising funds. They wanted to improve the efficiency and ease of fundraising for these groups, and increase the volume of donations these groups were able to generate.
Even though their existing platform was successful at providing nonprofits with online tools that helped busy supporters donate, Givebacks felt more could be done. They knew that businesses want to support schools and causes, but there wasn't a great mechanism in place to make this happen easily. Efforts involving businesses such as a dedicated “shopping night” or a “restaurant night” where purchases made by supporters at those events generally drove some success, but causes often found it logistically challenging to coordinate with businesses to set it up. Then, it requires a lot of effort to get supporters to go to a specific restaurant, or shop at a specific merchant on a specific time/day. Generally, it was tough to coordinate, and harder than it should be.
The team recognized there was an opportunity to bring merchants, supporters, and causes together to mutually benefit and raise more funds, more efficiently.
Partnering with Wildfire, Givebacks launched a shopping tool to tap into the power of Wildfire's massive online merchant network and white-label rewards platform to leverage existing consumer shopping behavior which seamlessly generates donations that are ultimately funded by merchant commissions.
Givebacks loved the idea of tying shopping to giving back to causes that supporters care about, but the perfect solution didn’t materialize right away.
First they tried implementing a voucher program that worked like Groupon. In this model, for each cause’s online fundraising store on Givebacks, there was a list of all the merchants, like local restaurants and learning centers, where supporters could shop and the merchants would give a discount to the supporter and a percentage of sales back to the cause. Supporters would buy a voucher, then go to the merchant, present the voucher, get their discount, and the merchant would donate a portion of the sale back to the cause.
Givebacks saw some success with this model, but OpEx was high since the model required them to build out a merchant relations team to secure participating businesses to offer donate-able discounts.
Their merchant network wasn’t big enough. To be relevant to supporters they needed to have a lot of shopping options to give them enough reasons to come back to the online store. But with the manual nature of securing merchant participation, there simply weren’t enough choices for people. It wasn’t scalable, and it would’ve just been too costly to continue building out merchant relationships.
The process was too difficult to be practical. Supporters had to visit the cause’s online store, buy a voucher, print something out or store the online code, go to the merchant, and then remember to use it (and use it correctly- they often had complex terms & conditions). It was simply too complicated.
Required people to change their existing behavior. Supporters would need to continually come back to the store to see if there were any deals where they could save money AND support the school. In all honesty, there aren’t many parents / cause supporters who are thinking, “I’m going to go out to dinner, but first let me go to our school’s store & look for a voucher I can use.”
According to Givebacks Co-Founder & COO, Bobby Costa, “It just wasn’t happening. You’re pushing against the tide. People have their tried and true ways for buying things online or going to local merchants they know. In our experience, it was too much of an effort to get them to change how they shop.”
While they were trying to figure out how to best incorporate affiliate programs into their platform, the Givebacks team learned about Wildfire’s flexible cashback rewards platform through an existing business relationship and quickly realized it was the missing piece of the puzzle.
Using Wildfire as the online shopping platform, Givebacks designed and developed a solution that really lived up to their vision of getting more donations, more efficiently. It had an updated online fundraising store with thousands of merchants providing cashback opportunities (and thus cause donations) and extensions that provided cashback and cause donations on just about wherever device supporters might use for shopping: on desktop browsers, on iOS, and on Android devices, all available from the Givebacks.com site. Using Wildfire’s white-label shopping extensions, Givebacks can finally leverage the shopping behaviors that people already have to support the causes they care about; there’s no need to try to change consumer behavior.
In building out Givebacks’ online component, the team wanted to maximize the opportunity for cause donations. The team conducted customer research and gained insights into customer preferences for mobile and desktop shopping. They quickly realized that they needed to be… everywhere. “40-50% of all shopping volume is on mobile. If we didn’t have something on mobile we’d be cutting out half the opportunity for our supporters to donate via merchant-funded cashback rewards, especially if they ONLY use a phone,” said Bobby.
Because of Wildfire's extensive online merchant network, Givebacks was able to instantly have access to tens of thousands of merchants offering affiliate commissions which could be donated to nonprofit causes when supporters make purchases. And Givebacks could say goodbye to high cost merchant relations!
Bobby commented, "With such a vast network of merchants, opportunities to support a cause through donations frequently arise during a person’s natural online shopping journey. Since people already shop at these places, they may discover they can earn a donation on a purchase they were already planning to make - it’s the perfect combination."
Wildfire’s platform is flexible enough that clients can repurpose commissions into whatever "currency" they prefer. In Givebacks' case, commissions earned on online purchases are automatically directed to the supporters’ chosen cause. Wildfire’s platform provided an efficient, automated way to collect commissions from tens of thousands of merchants and Givebacks built an automated way to distribute those as donations to the appropriate causes.
"We knew we had to get shopping emails out, to remind people of all the stores where they can earn automatic donations for their cause. Reminding people they can support their cause simply by shopping online once the extension installed was a central piece of the marketing campaign.”
Givebacks launched in the Fall to capitalize on their strength in the education sector which is most active at the beginning of the school year. In support of the product, they developed smartly targeted seasonal marketing campaigns which addressed parents when they were most likely to sign up for Givebacks.
In addition, they rolled out merchandising emails reminding parents and cause supporters of shopping opportunities via Givebacks, such as the transition to fall/winter clothing, Black Friday sales, holiday travel, and more. “In addition to creating awareness of our new offering, we knew we had to get shopping emails out, to remind people of all the stores where they can earn automatic donations for their cause. Reminding people they can support their cause simply by shopping online once the extension installed was a central piece of the marketing campaign,” remarked Bobby.
These efforts paid off. After launching the partnership with Wildfire, Givebacks effectively doubled supporters’ average annual donation. Bobby said, “Our early statistics show that supporters who sign up and generate donations through our shopping tools can more than double their annual contribution to their nonprofit of choice, without any additional cost to them.”
Now that they successfully launched a way to drive more donations, more efficiently, Givebacks is poised to become the ultimate giving application for cause supporters. Bobby said, "Wildfire provided a critical technology in helping us fulfill our product vision of growing nonprofit donations through our platform, via affiliate programs."
Givebacks now has a key differentiator in the online fundraising market. “The crown jewel of the Givebacks giving platform is the shopping technology. With this in place, we can work towards our goal of becoming the only application anyone needs to support the things they care about,” continued Bobby.
He added, “Our product brings value to all parties involved. Supporters can effortlessly donate to their chosen cause, streamlining their giving experience. Nonprofits can access a wider range of donations, including those from previously untapped sources. Merchants can showcase their support for the nonprofits their customers care about, creating a powerful loyalty and acquisition program.”
By working with Wildfire, Givebacks was able to realize their vision of getting more donations, more efficiently, while benefiting everyone involved.
Schedule a demo with one of our product experts to learn about the flexibility Wildfire provides to help companies of all types leverage merchant-funded cashback rewards.