Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Where Are They Now?: Charitweet

Nonprofit & Social Cause

We caught up with Charitweet, the social enterprise unlocking impact from 'slacktivists' and beyond.

Regular readers of Springwise will know that we have a soft spot for startups that promote positive change. From homeless gift cards to bicycle workshops for refugees, charitable businesses around the world are often found at the forefront of the innovation sphere. Charles Huang, Pat Marx and Colin Sidoti joined this stream of social entrepreneurs after graduating from MIT, and started their social enterprise Charitweet. The company harnesses the power of social media for social good, by creating a framework for donating that is incredibly seamless and easy-to-use — all people have to do it make a tweet, @ the charity name and say the amount.

Charitweet makes donating as easy as writing out less than 140 characters. They enable users to directly donate to the cause, which means that the process is streamlined and more efficient. Instead of filling out paper work, or carrying out large and costly fundraising campaigns, spreading the word and submitting the donation is done in less than five seconds. Donors can also challenge their Twitter followers to donate by simply retweeting the ‘charitweet.’

The process makes donating appealing for millennials, a hurdle often encountered by various fundraising initiatives — it has even recently received endorsement from pop star Selena Gomez, and started a #GivingGoneViral trend. For ‘slacktivists’ who are often seen posting on social media about a crisis, or sharing an article from Humans of New York but never actually doing anything, Charitweet creates the perfect solution. The donation amount can be small, and it is integrated into an already well-used social network. What is more, the act of donating is the same as posting.

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“A large reason for our success so far has been our ability to evolve and adapt to our customers,” Jonathan Landy, Director of business development of the company tells us, “For example, our donation flow has gone through a number of changes to boost our new donor conversion numbers. We’ve learned this game (the startup game) is more about ‘what you don’t know’ and quickly became aware of so many non-obvious problems.”

Since we wrote about them at the end of last year, the team has been working to fine tune this user experience. “Charitweet has continuously looked to enhance its design and functionality to improve the experience for the donor as well as the non-profits we work with. In addition to these re-designs, we also began to implement match campaigns with donor advised funds, in an effort to bridge the gap between large-scale philanthropy and micro-donations.”

They aim to expand the reach of each tweet, by creating movements around the causes they care about, alongside their partners (which now include Codestarter, Rainforest Foundation, and Boston Children’s Hostpital). “Since every donation is a tweet, there is no limit on the ability to spread the word or the dollar.” The team is proud to boast a 33 percent conversion rate for donations, which is significantly higher than traditional methods of fundraising.

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It is comforting to know that during this process, the team has learnt that there is no shortage of individuals willing to lend a helping hand. But the challenge of unlocking these charitable wills remains. “Our priority [is] to help bring the donor closer to the cause. In doing so we are currently expanding Charitweet’s services for the use of for-profit companies who include a charitable or cause-oriented aspect in their business model.”

In terms of the philanthropy technology space, the team has learned from exploring strategies around donor engagement and impact tracking. “The common thread we’ve found in all these is data: How do you collect it? How do you present it? How do you take action on it? These are the problems we’ll be focusing our attention on in the coming year.”

When asked if the team has any advice for other startups, Landy says to simply ensure you are doing it for the right reasons. “Many new companies run into this – no matter what you set out to do or what problem you aim to solve, you will almost always end up discovering some new opportunity when you spend enough time with a problem. The big takeaway from this is to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. As long as your company is focused on the questions as opposed to the answers, you open yourself up to a much larger world of innovation and creativity.”

Learn more about Charitweet here.