Max Friedman: Changing the Game on Fundraising and Giving
Hi everyone! I’m Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs creating waves. Today I’m going to learn about one new online giving platform that is making fundraising more accessible for an array of organizations. Join me as I welcome Max Friedman, co-founder, and CEO of Givebutter.
Spiffy: Welcome, Max! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. What in the world is Givebutter and what challenges are you addressing?
Max: Great to be here, Spiffy! We founded Givebutter after realizing there was a disconnect between communities — particularly amongst youth and small nonprofits — and the quality of the online fundraising tools available to them. Givebutter strives to be donor-first, creating online giving experiences that foster communities around the causes they support. This influences every feature we prioritize, such as our innovative supporter feed. We also want advanced fundraising tools to be available to important causes without bankrupting the causes themselves, so we created a transparent and low-cost fee structure. Every step of the way, we are aiming to empower fundraisers to build and support both their goals and the communities around them.
Spiffy: I see! And what were some of the key motivating factors for you to hone into online giving?
Max: I have always been driven to create things that solve problems for people. Givebutter started as a small experiment, more of a game, between three college students. But that experiment exposed a gap in the market, and that gap inspired us to start building. Since that initial spark, I feel consistently reinforced by the incredible causes and individuals we get the pleasure of working with, that we have created something that provides value to people. As long as that value is there, I’m motivated to keep improving.
Spiffy: Wow, it’s amazing your experimental game has evolved into this! How would you say that Givebutter is towards creating a more equitable world?
Max: Well, Spiffy, we are fortunate to have a platform that so regularly engages with incredible nonprofits, local communities, and other grassroots efforts. In 2020, we saw countless PPE relief fundraising at the beginning of COVID-19, small restaurant relief funds, and later on, in the summer, many groups fundraising to support BLM and other efforts fighting for racial justice. At Givebutter, we removed platform fees for all campaigns around the time COVID broke out; and we have an ongoing effort to make our pricing and structure as transparent and accessible as possible. We want our platform to always be accessible, and we want to enable the support of all causes working towards creating a more equitable world.
Spiffy: Can you tell me about a recent milestone that Givebutter has achieved and what kind of impact it has made?
Max: On Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, when nonprofits make a big push for donations as part of the holiday season) we processed over $1.5 million in a single day. It broke all of our daily fundraising records. Most importantly, however, was that we had no campaign raise more than $15,000, which meant tons of small organizations and local groups were raising smaller amounts of money. This is great because it means Givebutter is succeeding in its mission to enable grassroots and community efforts to support their causes, and our approach is resonating with these communities.
Spiffy: One last question for you Max, can you share about a time that you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from failure?
Max: We tried to raise a small angel investment round at the beginning of 2019, and almost every investor of the 50-plus that we met with, declined. We ended up doing a smaller round than planned and just doubled-down on our product. We were confident in the mission and the product-market fit, and we decided to accelerate at full speed despite investor skepticism. That ended up being the best thing we could have done, and Givebutter has grown exponentially (and profitably) in the last year. But because we took that leap despite external skepticism, we still own the vast majority of our company, product, and destiny. I often think it worked out the best it possibly could have, though it was jarring at the time.
Spiffy: Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me about your venture, Max! I’m excited to share this with our audience! Over and out!
Max Friedman is the co-founder and CEO of Givebutter, an online fundraising platform powering over $100M in donations per year for more than 30,000 good causes.