JustGive.org
Podcast #115 — Aired December 19, 2016

It’s the season of giving. This week on BetterWorldians Radio, we’re talking with Kendall Webb, founder of JustGive.org, a nonprofit organization with a mission to increase charitable giving by connecting people with the charities and causes they care most about. Webb will tell listeners how JustGive.org revolutionized the way we give online, and how anyone can make giving back a fun part of the holiday with charity gift cards.

 

 

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Kendall Webb
Founder, JustGive.org

As a Harvard undergraduate, Kendall helped launch the WorldTeach program. After stints with Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, she served in Uganda as a volunteer. Upon her return to the United States, she worked on the founding team of More.com, one of the early-stage Internet websites, where she realized that the Internet could revolutionize charitable giving. Kendall has been a thought leader in Internet giving for more than a decade, offering strategic advice to organizations and companies that are incorporating charitable giving programs.

Episode Transcript

Gregory Hansell
hi and welcome to the Better Worldians Radio. Better Worldians Radio weekly broadcast whose mission is to uplift and inspire you to make the world a better place, Im Gregory Hansell, Better Worldians Radios brought you a Better Worldians in foundation and is co hosted by the family team that created the popular social game on Facebook called a better world. a rewards place for doing good deeds while they raise money and awareness for charities, to date over 40 million good deed have been done on a better world by more than 4 million people in over 100 countries. this week on better world in radio we welcome Kendall Webb, founder of just give.org a nonprofit organization with the mission to increase charitable giving, is a Harvard undergraduate candle helped launch the world teach program after stints with Goldman Sachs and the World Bank she served in Uganda as volunteer. upon her return to the United States she worked on the family tell the team of more.com, one of the early state Internet websites where she realized that the Internet could revolutionize charitable giving Kendall has been a true leader in Internet [inaudible] for more than a decade offering strategic advice to organizations and companies that are incorporating charitable giving programs. Kendall thank you for joining us today on better worlds in radio.

Kendall
thank so much for having me

Gregory Hansell
so you found just give that work in 2000 what inspires you to, to start it up.

Kendall
well i was working in the poor profit side on the Internet which will thriving and people were flocking, starting to make entrepreneurial, new companies all around yet and venture capitalists were, were investing lots of funding into the poor profit side and I had always been interested in the nonprofit sector ahmm so that we can in my free time and I decided to look into how the Internet was impacting philanthropy and im internal causes and I found out that there was virtually no resources that people were investing in the charity factor at the time and really very few people were even expanding time and effort to build in any Internet platforms. ahmm for the sales factor so i explored here within that area that what a few of them on and the few that did meet were trying to actually make a profit from the work that they were doing in this sector and since I had been working in internet for over five years, i knew a lot of people who were scalable technology ahmm also lot of people who had, had some great successes financially so I question the model that you had to make profit by helping the non-profit sectors I thought maybe I could cool together many thought leaders and also made many leading tech people mixed with some donations from milted found success in the tech sector and see off all come together to offer a platform that with a non-profit tech company to support the charity sector and at very quickly came together I hired a group of people for the best and brightest for one year to launch it and it's been running an exponentially growing ever since, it was a real success right away

Gregory Hansell
that's an incredible story so how does just give.org work for donors

Kendall
so the come initially while you know, the Internet on the poor profit side initially without so that you could search and sort through a large mass of information on, you know the library finds himself of the medical friend so when i was saying well on that profit side there were 600,000 charities at the time, that is actually now 1.8 million charities

Gregory Hansell
wow

Kendall
so it was a sector that was growing very quickly and only had large numbers of organizations if you are curious to find an organization for yourself you have to go to the foundation centre, go in the building and look at giant cockpit with only updated every few years and so I thought why can't the internet use that searching sort capability for people who are looking for interesting causes that they don't know about already through friends and family, ahmm that they can actually make substantial decision based on information making time by searching this database that we uploaded the database and then we decided to add an e-commerce capabilities so people could donate directly to any of this charities they found on them and then there we added some other products ahmm, such as Charity gift cards where people can donate, it can actually buy a charity gift card for somebody and we as a gift and then the person can redeem it for their favourite charity and then we added points redemption as well we can redeem points for your favourite charity so in addition to just information we offered different ways that people can easily give to charity directly themselves.

Gregory Hansell
I love that idea the charity gift card, that's really great. you have to tell us more about that offline were happy to a post that on our social media for you that's, that's wonderful special for the holidays.

Kendall
yes it's the most popular in holidays and it goes exponentially for individuals and corporations, just great.

Gregory Hansell
so how do you choose which charities to support.

Kendall
so were agnostic, we want to support every large and small charity so we have all 1.8 Marine charities, we use a database ahmm help guide start, has listed all the favour went to the threes in real time so they are automatically uploaded and have mere technology so as people are creating new 501(c)(3)'s and list the IRS approves them, they are uploaded into guide starting automatically on our site ahmm we also have different segmentation to help people search and sort through those so you can do keyword searching, can do localization searches by zip code if you want to find something in your local area so we have a lot of parameters around that database to help people sort through that large number that you have access to every charity possible.

Gregory Hansell
hmm, so how is just give that work different from just donating into a charity directly.

Kendall
so the key to death is initially started with the information aspect of searching and sorting then we realised, well the average number of charities that an individual gives to through the years is eight so why is it that we need to give eight different charities at the time with an envelope and stamp why not enable people to give to multiple charities in a single transaction like Amazon done for retail purchases so we quickly launched that and what came with that is, you got your giving history so it's you have one place where you can see every post you've been to in the past and that way from year to year you can just upload that an offer as you need for like personalized giving card and you can text earnings at certain things on, change amounts I like it personally because I can see how much I gave to my charities last year and incrementally increase it, I also like that because my college often cognate from different departments that can't remember who I gave to and when, this is a nice way to organize your giving and then the second part to that you have one single tax receipt so a lot of times we need donate you a piece of paper in the mail weeks later saying this is your tax receipt to prove that you gave to us one two three and might have been spread around your house at different times a year that we have are one of our largest volume of people come right before tax time to printout their tax receipt for all the donations they have given that you. But in addition to that it's different to giving directly to a charity because we serve the donor and we try to create as many different ways possible for them to give so that they have different options wouldn't necessarily have to be just a credit card donation to their favourite charity, it can be point and that's something that we've been able to access because were a company that offers donors to all charity and partner with American Express so that they can actually use their AMEX points to channel them into dollars directly give them to charity. you will get back if you go actually to a direct charity alone

Gregory Hansell
that's great, that's really great program. in one single like about your site is that donors can read reviews of the charity before donating to help you found that that's been important and what's been the response to that and how does that work.

Kendall
yes, we partner with grated great nonprofits and their favours organization, ahmm they started probably eight years after we launched and there, there at the backend to manage their leading platform for community-based stories about nonprofits so they get long tears and donors and participants about nonprofits to write with experiences about and it's great way to access small non profit and particularly might not know. any, any specifics about the retreat to donate to you can find out their effectiveness, their efficiency its, its kind of like yelp for restaurants before you to a restaurant ahh this is the way to get through inside scoop about nonprofits and I like this because what's been happening in there has not been any standard measure for a charity so unlike the stock market that have certain validating measures that somebody can fail came look at these three criteria and then compared against other stocks to figure out which one will be the best for my portfolio, for charity that been trial and starting ever since I launched a skill set and here we go, they been trying to figure out how to do that for charities but it's virtually impossible because any standard measure doesn't work and one example is overhead that was the criteria that people have for a while as a determination of efficiency and effectiveness for charities but it turned out that if you take ahh a hospital for example they have a high percentage of overhead because they own a huge building with heavy equipment to really important part of what they do, and its a necessary part whereas another organization that does a lot of lobbying and might not need some heavy equipment towards an expensive and heavy building to big buildings will have a much lower overhead though it's hard to compare apples to apples, really make a judgment so great nonprofits enable people to assess that on a voting system is not what we're getting used to every night Amazon again with buying things you can, you can take a post now later star system but their comments which I think is becoming ahh just more and more way that were trying to get a closer view of charities and how they worked, which is great.

Gregory Hansell
and I saw the people can also create fundraisers on your site, how does that work

Kendall
so either people to design a personalized page ahmm they get a lists the charity or even multiple charities that they want a raise fund for, they get to put in their personal message and appeal to wide a raising funds, they get to add Texture than at the moment to measure their progress and it's a way for people to easily reach out to their peers their friends and families to appear to raise money for a cause and, and the dataset is not only the even that which is usually put in your email address and sending out the same message to everybody, but it's also a tracking mechanism where the donors come on get to see reports of who is given to your addressing appeal, what dollar amount and then they also automatically get a tax receipt so you don't have to get involved that in people are excited to get their tax receipt. for you dont have to do that, you can still use their report to know defend a thank you too so its a really simple and it's becoming more popular and very quick way to raise funds for domination you care about.

Gregory Hansell
will talk more about that work just a moment but right now and take a brief break and tell us there's a bit of a game on Facebook called a better world, a better world encourages habits of goodness, positive mindsets and giving the social causes to make a positive difference in the world, plays two things that express gratitude, share acts of kindness send get well notes to real-world sick children just to name a few you can find out more@abetterworld.com so now let's get back to her conversation with candle warth founder of just give.org, so candle the internet changed a lot since just give.org found, found it was founded in 2000 and help hows just give the word change the data to keep up.

Kendall
yes its its done and, its gone expensive, faster, the,the primary answer is just enhanced technology which is exciting, it gives us better ways to customize the products that we build, it gives us way to give people more detailed information for example our, our searches have become very micro-in terms of keywords, in tidying people are able to find ease to be when you load and a keyword such as you know the environments you get 80,000 results and that's very hard to sort through now you can say the environments ocean and called police and you'll get something very specific and keep them out of the code in there for the evening to a localized detailed search for what you need so that's been really exciting for us and the second aspect is that the Internet is changing so dramatically it enabled us to innovate the products and one key thing that we've always been focused on is that in a charitable giving of the part as American culture the US culture with big donors, big charitable givers in general but as we are getting busier and as were more mobile and were moving from community to community it is harder to that people are worried that that in a lose time and connection to the charity so use to be always gave to your local organization but if you move every three years you might not have time to really get integrated into the community as much so we try to create products that help people with their busy and mobilized to stay connected and we try to adapt to their busy lives so were constantly thinking about how to get the message out from the nonprofit's to the donors, knowing that bandwidth of time is short and the message has to be very poignant because the people are getting lots of messages every day about many things so we use the Internet technology changes to enable us to do that we can send specific messages to people that have specific interest to our database can align people better, things like that really help and localization as I mentioned, really help engage to use that technology to get the donor to engaged in and targeted areas that they care about.

Gregory Hansell
thats running also do you have a favourite success story of something that you know lets give say the Abrams or just give is able to do for his charity partners.

Kendall
ahmm you know actually i have, i have come to mind when one is small and am one is more of a sector change a big big sector change, ahmm the small one was the year we launched, we were very needed rest, everybody was very new to the Internet even at the time the project imagined that but people were nervous that giving online and where does the money go and how much shelter and done a lot the large back then a lot of the large non-profit were getting it if it was the statistic that the 600,000 charities that 80% of the money went to 20% of the organizations and that was really challenging so if you're a small organization very hard to get any funding that any marketing work out there because they didn't have the money to send messaging out so the internet with great because of an inexpensive way to let a small non-profit equal voice to a large non-profit and we had how much shelter to was actually closing because of lack of funds and they've been struggling to to very last thing they have been made, realise they can do it so they decided they used to be a busy neighbour had not got a lot of attraction from people walking by but then they they moved to an isolated location and the donors couldn't see them and they can get the word out so the master fundraising page and within one hour database three years of operating funds so that was really exciting and really didn't need that kind of money, they just needed exposure and they were smart they didn't know how to do that and so without funds they actually opened the second shelter so it is a win-win for all community which was showing the power of the Internet, my digger, my digger success story that comes to mind is when we were seeing the extension and it still is growing over what points teams can do that everybody and we notice that Pakistan especially that even now there is a propensity for programs to offer enable you to begin your points for the travel industry at first it was just for airplane tickets to a number way back then and then there is the big shift in expansion into retail, we all of a sudden Home Depot and that happened, a lot of companies come in and offer the ability for people to redeem their points that check for gift cards and so when we launched a couple years into operating we thought will working people only within the credit card points for those two categories, there is holder category charity that is really needing those times so we approached some credit card companies and as I mentioned earlier american express jumped on board and that this is a very exciting opportunity and it was incredibly popular overnight people understood it. they David in the points there you know where it was in about a month or two months of the launching and this program leverages millions and millions of dollars per year now for a very important cause is and that's very exciting because That's money that would not have going to charity that the program didnt exist.

Gregory Hansell
I think that's the exciting is great program, you know i think it's true that people have so many distractions, so many notifications, so many different things kind of competing for their attention and so I think if they have the ability to so easily I donate to charity special with money that is accumulated in rewards points where you it's kind of a bonus for them and so for happy dragging you some of that to help some people need, help organization getting off the ground, i think its wonderful.

Kendall
yeah its exciting

Gregory Hansell
so how does holidays are coming up, do you usually see an uptick in activity, how important is this time of year for just give.

Kendall
its, it's huge, you know its always traditionally been the predominant season of giving infect we launched it to be the it like 85% of the donations would come through during the fall between Thanksgiving and, and January one to end of the year but that even know that has changed slightly and people are now giving all year round and were very encouraging that it still is a huge season than that 40% of all of our donations to come to our site are in the last six weeks of the year and it increases exponentially in December you get closer to December 31. state party that is the tax benefit of donating so that the incentive for a lot of people we we had a funny story that when we first launched a clock was off by two minutes and not through everybody in chose because they really wanted to get their donations and write up until the last minute we never we never expected that that was to be such a high-volume time for now we ensure that our clock is accurate but also to people think about giving traditionally and thats because right away start thinking about , you know what's important and he's made in the last add advantages then found you can may help so it's a good time of year now, now they have a holiday for giving that parallel to the retail side which cup getting to that and thats a day people to kind right after Thanksgiving and said thinking immediately about buying things for the holiday, they want to get the attention and carve out that day to get people to think about giving before they get you distracted and not growing very quickly and most all nonprofits are involved in that and it's a nice way to to make sure it doesn't get lost in the holiday last.

Gregory Hansell
defiantly defiantly love giving Tuesday in the wonderful force for good or think

Kendall
yes

Gregory Hansell
so obviously this is really incredible how can our listeners get involved specially during this time of year when you know if none time other rethinking that those in need.

Kendall
I'm a big proponent of making sure that everybody find the cause they care about not waiting till that certain time of life and have more time or more money or youre older that start young, start early, I will do need that the US in particular strides on social ventures not having not relying on problems to be filed on their own but that you know aahh as citizens can really make massive change if we need to sell volunteer, donate if you have a cared about a cause, spread the word and then on the donation side and that giving side of holidays in particular I would say get really show into giving a charitable gift card in lieu of gifts this year, it will help overall giving, it helps the land sale, it reminds people the spirit of the holidays if you read on the ground shot on a parking spot in an that kind of thing but most importantly I think a lot of people nowadays have not a bigger issue that in the world and sometimes presents aren't necessarily the most important thing to give the holiday time so give a charity card enables to recipient to know that neither channel the nation and they get to direct where that cargo so its a replacement for charity in someone's name which I think it's doesn't work so well someone did that for me a real estate agent did that for me one time and with the gospel but the charity she packed out like to resonate with i cared about a lot and so this enables a person to have intense of having somebody give a donation to pick up and found making a personal.

Gregory Hansell
sure

Kendall
so I really encourage people to think about how they came to give a donation instead of present this year.

Gregory Hansell
wonderful i think also lets people feel more involved with the charity you know of someone does it for them is probably disconnect if they make the decision I'm going to donate this to this particular group, they they create a connection it may stick with them in the organization for years to come.

Kendall
that is a great point there is a direct yes there is a direct connection in the correct direction and have been involved longer-term rather than just one donation.

Gregory Hansell
so i have just one question left, its a question I ask every guest, every week in this case how you hope just give that work is helping to make the world a better place

Kendall
wow I'm I'm hoping that our impact is making people making giving part of everybody's everyday life and not doing it not thinking of charitable giving is a separate channel in our lives that they're going to do me at some later point in their in their life when everything is all set and and the retiring are already made some money or a certain point in time in a life but I'm trying to encourage people to make it part of their everyday habits as our duty as being sentence, we encourage donating year-round not just at this and that holiday season to anything that concerns people when they see it in the news, they can jump online now, they can do some research on my daughter's movie about dolphins when she was able to jump onto just give, different searching about dolphins and donate right then even when she was able, and so we really encourage people to think that, all year long and supportive friends causes is at least 1 million pages and grant funding really enhancing the ability to help others whenever cause in need and then and then just reaching out to charities and thinking about them on a regular basis and then just second thing I feel like just get those is in you know, fundraising products in our donating products, we feel like creating new giving so were trying to find the pull of capital to increase overall giving not not just enable it to be easier for people to give

Gregory Hansell
sure

Kendall
what happened that people give more and they give more often and that you know not just with the direct giving but obviously out after get the points in the gift cards we are redirecting a portion of the retail sales over to charitable causes and if we continue doing this thing we can actually increase while giving thats why here we are.

Gregory Hansell
you can learn more about just get by going to just give.org candle thank you so much for joining us today in better worlds in radio Kendall- thank you so much