Democratizing Giving: DAFs are for everyone

Democratizing Giving: DAFs are for everyone

July 29, 2020
37 minutes

Rachel Klausner · Founder and CEO, Millie | Funraise CEO and Co-founder, Justin Wheeler, sat down with Millie's founder, Rachel Klausner, to celebrate DAF democratization, resulting in one of the most enthusiastic, pivotal, pinpointing-a-need conversations we've seen.


If you know your DAFs, you know that donor-advised funding is growing with breathtaking speed. Charities are receiving money from DAFs at nearly the same velocity as private foundations.

But most people can't join in the party: DAFs require an initial investment of thousands of dollars with average account sizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But today's everyone's lucky day, friends. DAFs are now within reach for everyone; Millie makes it possible to open your own DAF for $20.

Listen as Rachel and Justin trade a few DAF factoids, then address topics like...

  • unparalleled access to donors through workplace giving
  • the effect of matching donations on company culture
  • making matching donations less manual, even for small companies
  • how letting nonprofits tell their own story promotes equity and impact

Have you ever felt like giving is for the super rich? Rachel Klausner, Founder and CEO of Millie Giving, has been on a mission to democratize philanthropy, one corporation at a time. Millie Giving is a platform that brings individual donors and corporations together to create generous working cultures which has a huge impact on nonprofits everywhere. Let's dive in!

Justin Wheeler Rachel, thank you so much for joining the podcast today. I'm super excited to dive in and learn more about your company that you've started and to dig in a little bit more about what it means to democratize philanthropy. Super interesting. So thanks for joining the podcast today!

Rachel Klausner Thank you so much, Justin. I'm pumped to be here. I'm a huge Funrise fan so I was giddy to be a part of this.

Justin Wheeler Thank you. Yeah. Well, you have built an awesome company yourself, which I'm excited to get into and learn more about. But before we jump into Millie, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background in and what led you to start Millie.

Rachel Klausner So I am most definitely a designer before I am Founder, CEO, any current labels. Even today when people asked me, like, what do you do? I'm like, I'm a designer. So that's definitely true throughout everything that I've done. I guess my story leads to Millie down the road, but before college, I ended up taking a year off and volunteering on a youth village. It was so fun. I lived there and worked there. And during the day I would work on fundraising initiatives. I was like this 18-year-old, like wide-eyed kid, and I would help them with fundraising stuff and then at night would help tutor the kids and do a whole bunch of different activities. And so that was really where my love for nonprofits and fundraising started. But quickly after college ended up going into the startup kind of for-profit space, which was really fun because I love the fast pace and ended up doing that for about eight years at different startups, lived around the world for a bunch of years doing that, and it was awesome. And then ended up like now it's so fortuitous because what I do, had you, like, predicted it back in the day, it would've been so funny because it's like startup and also so tied to helping nonprofits make more money and help democratize giving and getting there. So it's been a fun ride. I'd never would have predicted I would have gotten here. But now looking back, I'm like, oh, yeah, it's so obvious.

Justin Wheeler That's great and you know, I think that fact that you're able to build something and it be meaningful, you know, it's not just about building a big company and and that, but it's it's actually a to help organizations, nonprofits and in particular, which is is similar to, you know, in regards like what is doing. But I'd love to hear a little bit more about Millie's concept. What caused you to think about, well tell us what it is and what led to you starting it.

Rachel Klausner Sure. So we are very much a giving platform. So a little bit opposite of what Funraise is where you guys are a nonprofit fundraising platform. We're really for the donor. So donors come in, they start what's called a wallet, like a giving wallet. But on the back end and this is all part of democratizing giving. It's actually what's called a donor-advised fund, which I'm sure a lot of your fundraisers know all about. And they probably are like a little bit shocked because the average donor advisement in the U.S. is like more than $200,000. It's really not meant for the everyday donor. We were really targeting kind of Millennials and Gen-Z who had been giving and still have been giving really mostly through their peers online via social media and also events, which I guess less so today. And so we were trying to figure out how do we get young people to find great nonprofits that they love and then proactively give there and not just give when a friend asks. And so that's how it really started. We've ended up, you know, we still have, you know, access to individuals, but we ended up finding that our best way into the donors is actually through companies. So we only a few months ago just launched a workplace giving program. So like a classic employee match, but a whole bunch of other features, too. And that's been so fun because just seen our numbers, just both, obviously, in terms of donors, but also number of kind of the total amount of money donated just skyrocket. It went from just kind of individual dollars and like really kind of longtail growth too. Oh, wait a second. Like, when we bring on this company, we all of a sudden have like 1,500 new donors. And the company is matching, you know, $100,000 this year. So it's super exciting because I think we're definitely still trying to democratize giving. Most of the companies that are coming on board don't for the standard employee giving software that's existed out there, they're just not large enough. So, like, we just did a launch last week and the company is pretty small. They hadn't really been doing charitable giving. And now they're doing $40,000 and giving through the platform, through match. And so it's really exciting. So it's it's both great because the company is now doing this whole new bucket of giving that they never were, but also just really helps actually get donors to give more, when someone's matching it. So it's been a lot of fun.

Justin Wheeler So the employee will create like their DAF account through Millie and maybe set aside some money to put it into it, to give to charity. And does it work where the actual company will then match that into their DAFF account? Or is it the individual donates, then the matching donation happens to the charity?

Rachel Klausner Yeah. Great question. The match happens once they actually give out the money. So they're not matching the DAF dollars. They're matching the donated dollars.

Justin Wheeler Got it.

Rachel Klausner Yeah. This that's also so funny because when I talk to nonprofit professionals, there's definitely a negative sentiment, totally understandably towards donor-advised funds because there's a lot of money sitting in donor-advised funds right now. And a lot of folks are really trying to move that as am I. There's great campaigns out there. #HalfMyDAF is one I just heard about. But really trying to get people, especially this year, to move money out of a DAF and into nonprofits, especially when the world is in so much pain. So, yeah, it's very different than our model because we actually don't make money as money sits, whereas traditional donor-advised funds, I do. There's truly weird disincentives to actually getting the money to nonprofits, usually. We very much don't operate that way. So we actually don't take a fee off money donated. It has nothing to do with that. Companies just pay us to operate the platform. But all the money kind of goes through. And yeah, it's been... And also, like, we don't want it to say we want this money to go out. So we use the wallet because we actually think it's easier for people to plan kind of year-long giving a generally DAFs are like this is what I'm giving in my lifetim. And so we're not, we don't want people to like put in all this money for their whole life to spend. It's like plan for the year.

Justin Wheeler Plan for the year. I think I actually just today posted on LinkedIn about DAFs. And I think there is overall misunderstanding with nonprofits because although you're right, I mean, like the initial sort of concept of DAFs was it's for rainy days for like nonprofits. I and many would argue 2020 is that rainy day, like, you know, which is where #HalfMyDAF sort of birthed out of. And there's been a lot of traction with that particular campaign. But if you actually compare, you know, DAFs, which for similar to like private family foundations. What's interesting is, private family foundations, there's only about 80,000 in the US and they hold about $900B. Right. And these are endowments and they have teams to manage, people are making tons of money on it. And these are endowments that will never sort of long outlast the actual individual philanthropists. Where DAFS, you know, it's kind of your lifetime giving and so forth. So $120B and DAFs today. But it makes up, if you compare the actual amount of dollars going to charity, it makes up 42% between private foundations and DAFs. So it's actually.... there's a ton of donation dollars going from DAFs, it's just I feel like a lot of times nonprofits don't have a great strategy to really mobilize around that. But I love your concept because it actually incentivizes individuals to think about their sort of annual giving versus their lifetime giving. When you start thinking about lifetime giving, you can sort of delay where you want to give and DAF kind of helps enable that because you get a tax break and you don't have to worry about that from there. I love that the you know, the model of what impact want to make this year. I imagine that resonates with employees especially and builds a lot of buy-in.

Rachel Klausner Yeah, it ends up working out great because also the match kind of caps the employers to like set the annual. So it ends up being like it tied together. Like, okay, we're matching $1,000 or $500 or whatever it is. Then, now all of a sudden, OK, I'm going to, you know, put $1,000 into this account and it will get matched over the course of the year. So it ends up working out really well with what we had an initially thought would end up being our direction.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, I'm curious... what caused the pivot. I mean, it sounded like this is something that's relatively fresh. I would love to hear why you decided to kind of pivot more towards corporations versus just individual donors?

Rachel Klausner It's a great question. It's funny. When I actually admit when we pivoted, that's probably the most embarrassing part. We released our beta about a year plus ago and then we were supposed to release out of beta this past November, which we did. But in October, we actually right before it happened, we ended up deciding, OK, you know, we'll do this launch. But we know there's something so much bigger and more of a fit for what we're trying to accomplish with companies. Which was so crazy because we hadn't even released out, you know, like our main product. And we're like, we know that this isn't the end-all. So it was it actually started from a conversation we had with a company who had been doing a match, but it was manual. So they were doing it via like a Google form. And people weren't utilizing it because it was kind of complicated. You had to first go make a donation. You had to download the receipt. You had to upload it to this place to make sure that it was being matched by the employer and was super cumbersome. And they approached us while we were having heard about our individual platform saying we can you actually build us this like side tool where we can just match the individual's donations. And we were like, oh, I don't know. We'll think about. You know, everyone throws you a million ideas you're building a startup. They're like, oh, tack this on tack that on. So I kind of bucketed it in that category. And that week we ended up having I just had like another coffee with someone else who happened to be kind of this the CEO of a pretty large company in Boston. Totally more as like an adviser, and I was telling him about this conversation. And he was like, stop it. We need to do this. We have 6,000 employees and we're doing it manually. And it's the worst. And I was like, what? Like, aren't there tools for this? And they're like, well, they're really expensive. We don't really qualify. We're not like the right size for them. And I was like, you've seem like a lot of people. So we did more research and sure enough, it was just really hard for kind of this small, medium, mid-market business kind of non-enterprise to really start doing matches and get up and going quickly like, you know, not have a standalone software. Right. So we don't white label. Everything is all on the Millie platform. We don't build out custom tools. When we build out tools, it's for everybody.

Justin Wheeler Got it.

Rachel Klausner So it allows us to kind of get new companies on board. So this has been a totally new pivot for us and pretty recent. But already, just like we've done so much better in the last like even week, I would say, and the number of companies that have come on board than we did in almost, you know, nine months of just individual giving.

Justin Wheeler That's great. What would you say, like the difference is in terms of, you know, some of the not necessarily competitors because they're not doing the donor-advised, but on the matching side, like Benevity or Double the Donation? Like, where do you guys play within, like, those types of companies?

Rachel Klausner So we have very similar kind of product feature sets. I would say we have very you know, if you kind of checked them all off, we would end up being similar. But what we try and do is really go after companies that are much smaller than the ones they usually cater towards. So if you're a five-person business, a 500 person business or a 2,000 person business, you probably don't fit into their category. But that's most businesses in the US.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Rachel Klausner So we're really trying to get companies kind of all sizes to set up giving programs and saying that you don't have to start with these really large amounts. We just did an analysis on some numbers of like average match caps on some of these platforms, and they usually range from somewhere between $5,000-$10,000 per employee, which is just an absurd amount of money. It's great, but you know, very few people end up utilizing it, but it's not an amount of money that a small or medium urban market business can wrap their head around. Right. And so what we're trying to do is say, no, start your match at $100 a year, go to $200, maybe have a goal for $500. Like, it doesn't have to be this huge amount of money, because I think that really turns off companies from thinking about it right now. All the sudden it feels like, oh, wow, we're gonna have to give $1,000,000 to make this program happen. And we're saying, no, start your program with a few thousand bucks and grow it from there.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, that's awesome. In terms of the benefit that nonprofits get from this, it seems like the ease of use or the ease of getting that match is taken care of by you guys. So would love to talk about that a little bit. So if I'm an employee at an employer that's a customer of yours and I make a donation to an organization through my Millie account, how does that process then work? Where the where the charity would get that matching gift from the corporatation.

Rachel Klausner Yeah. So it's super easy. So we actually have a whole like nonprofit profile's maker, or builder. So nonprofits can actually go in, and because right now there's 1.7M nonprofits in the US and because we're DAF based, you as a donor can actually give anywhere you want except for like, you know, the blacklist of about 1,000 kind of hate oriented groups. So outside of those, all 1.7M Are on there. And we've kind of pulled in information from the IRS' database from everyone's 990. And then nonprofits can go in and actually build them out. So it takes about two minutes. It's like a super easy builder. And that's just so you can show up better on search when people are actually searching for you. And then also you have access to the whole dashboard so you can see who donors coming in, matches coming in, and then you can also if you want, so right now, we know we have a donor-advised fund partner who sends out the checks every month and can access all your information on the dashboard. But if you want to get electronic payments. So you can set that up. So it's super seamless. It should just be like really easy to use kind of experience for the nonprofit.

Justin Wheeler It sounds like if I give to a charity, the organization doesn't really have to do any, the nonprofit doesn't have to do any work to get that matching gift. It's all taken care of through three Millie and it comes through this donor-advised, sponsor if you will, to get the check. That's awesome. So it sounds like you guys have been scaling, tell us a little bit about your customers or the types of companies that you've seen have been really successful at implementing your guys' product.

Rachel Klausner We've had a crazy few months just because we went from the stress, the economic stress of Covid-19, which still exists, but much more quiet, kind of... we were laying low. We had just launched this new product and we were hearing from a bunch of our pilot customers about crazy layoffs. They were all doing and we're like, you know what? We need to just calm down for now. You know, we had contracts in place and everything like that. We're like when this is things, calm down, we'll get up and running at a few companies. So we were really quiet when we first launch. We usually do a big launch. Didn't do any of that. And then everything happened in kind of end of May, early June around, you know, everything with racial inequity and people finally starting to have conversations around these important issues. And that really catalyzed a lot of companies to actually reach out to us. So we hadn't even announced launching. We just had like a random page on our website that people could find. And we just had a lot of inbound leads started coming in June. And we were like, wait a second. Like, this is really catalyzing companies, what's happening in the world? And so we've seen a lot of the companies that have come in really came from, ok, we really want to give to organizations helping dismantle all the racial inequity in this country, but how do we do something that's like sustainable and not just like a one-off check, you know, or like a one-off matching situation where our finance team has to scramble during June to make it all happen? Because that's usually what happens, right? It's like, let's do a campaign, finance team here is like, you know, 472 donations that you need to process. And some poor person that, you know, has other jobs has to end up doing this. So, yeah. So we ended up the I think the companies that do really well with us are just companies that are really excited about and see the value in bringing matching to their companies. I think ultimately what we've realized is when a company says, oh, I'm going to do a match for, you know, a charitable match for my employees, there's really not a big difference in terms of the goodwill it gets from your employees. If you do a $200 match and if you do a $2,000 match per employee. Either way, the employee feels really good that you're doing something like this. And I think that's really resonated with a lot of teams in saying, wow, we're gonna get this great goodwill from our employees. We're gonna feel really good about doing it. And it doesn't need to be this huge check-writing experience. So I think to answer your question, it's been all sizes and mostly the early companies that we've brought on now are, and I would just say it just because of how fast they move is kind of high growth startups. And that's because what they want to start a program like, they want it up and running in a few days. So we've had companies that are really small, like kind of 10 person companies till like 100 to like 1,000+. And so those are kind of it's kind of a pretty broad range. But, yeah, so far it's been really fun. We just like sent out a whole bunch of one month, kind of like, you're one month in here are your numbers are looking awesome to a bunch of companies that launched in June after everything happened. And it was so cool, like the numbers were like 75% percent employee participation. It's like crazy. Yeah. It was like really cool and made us super proud. Like, wow, that's awesome that you are able to get 75% of your employees to donate just in the first month of watching.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, that's amazing. And I have kind of ties into your it seems to be part of your vision through Millie is to democratize giving and philanthropy. And so can you maybe talk a bit more about kind of the inspiration behind that and why that's an important part of your company?

Rachel Klausner Yes, this is something I'm a big believer and I could talk about it for hours. But yeah, the philanthropy world has been really interesting for me to navigate. I feel very new to it still. Right. And I feel like I'm only a year and a half in and I'm learning a lot. But really, what opened my eyes to it was when I started learning about donor-advised funds, because originally I was like, oh, everything's equitable in the world, not everything. But, you know, like we're just it's just a word philanthropy, that scares people. And then the second I actually started talking to some really, really generous philanthropists here in the Boston area, they all started bringing up donor-advised funds. And I was like, what is this thing that you guys, everyone's telling me donor-advised funds? And I realized, you know, when they would talk about it, I was like, why is it something I haven't heard of? My friends haven't heard? I would bring it up at, like parties. I'd be like, oh, you've heard of this thing. No one knew what it was. And doing research, I realized that they just have these really high minimums. It was really inaccessible, even like I was like, oh, before, you know, Millie turned into a DAF thing. I was like, oh, let me just open up like a fidelity charitable account. And like A, did not have the minimum amount, you know, to be able to donate. Like, I could not afford the, you know, $500-$1,000 initial donation right then and there. But then also it was a super cumbersome process. I had to get on the phone with someone in order to actually create the account. There was like definitely some manual processes in place, and I was like, oh, this is so silly. Then I start looking into the laws around them. I was like, oh, is there a minimum legal amount that you need to have in there? Nope, no, legal minimum. So it ended up being this really interesting exploratory kind of conversation that led into, wait a second, there's actually this tool that almost every kind of wealthy donor in America is using and every kind of average donor in America has no idea it exists. And even like I think back to folks, you know, people in my family who, you know, for what they've done in their life, have been just, I've always thought of as very generous people, like just would never qualified for that amount of money. And so whenever they would tell me about their giving, it was like always so one-off. And they weren't able to really plan it. And the ones that did, they did it in spreadsheets and it was super, you know, cumbersome to track. And so it was just really an interesting. What I felt like wasn't, you know, it's like inequity. And so that's when we started talking to donor-advised funds across the country to try and get a partner and say, listen, we'll build a platform on top of whatever kind of more old school or whatever donor-advised fund back-end you have. And so that ended up being great. We ended up finding one here in Boston. And it was just, it was a wild experience because I had no idea what donor-advised funds were. And then the next minute I was like trying to track down donor-advised funds that were way above by my pay grade. So it was great.

Justin Wheeler So I think the other sort of benefit you're adding here is, you know, aside from the making it more accessible to the average donor, is just the efficiency, especially at like end of year, like when you're filing taxes. Right. Like, you don't have to go track down one hundred receipt's or 25 receipts, depending on how many different times you've given. You've got it all centralized in your... through your DAF. And that's, that's super interesting. And also like to like the downstream effect of that is the alleviation on the actual nonprofit, you know, side of, of having to provide all these like tax receipts. A lot times organizations just can't do it without the resources, you know, below a certain dollar amount. And so you're helping also really streamline and make nonprofits more efficient and effective while providing thus really great experience for donors. Great job, you know, finding a problem and building a product to really solve it. I'm excited to see kind of how it grows. I'm curious to know, as you think about like taking the business, you know, you're growing it year over year and retaining sort of the corporations you have. I would imagine that a part of sort of the retention plan would be what sort of impact are we making as a company, as donors. So how do you tie impact that the gifts are having to charities back to the donor and the corporations?

Rachel Klausner Great question. So there's a lot there are a lot of pieces that we definitely. For us, it's funny because our metrics, because we don't have like a fee that is associated with volume of donation.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Rachel Klausner Our metrics are just around getting companies on board, which is not really an alignment with our vision, which is let's try and raise the most amount of money for nonprofits without them needing to do much. So that's really interesting. So we've actually been talking about it like we very much celebrated, probably celebrating more than this small company that just told us about the forty thousand dollars are giving way more than we then we even celebrated getting them on board, which is so funny because it was like we're way more excited about this huge amount of money going to charity than we are about the platform. So so that was really interesting. And so we're really I'm trying to challenge myself and our very small team like the few of us, like we need to keep our eye on the ball, always on how much money is flowing to charity. Right. It's not just getting like a brand name on there, but like actually what kind of volume are they doing and how do we encourage more volume on the platform? Right. Like, even just this week we had a conversation with bringing in your outside contractors or other folks that you can help rally behind your giving. So that's been really interesting. But in terms of actually helping showcase impact on the platform, that's been really interesting. And I think a cool product design challenge. I think everyone can say, showing impact in a nonprofit like how do you know? We still, that's like the million-dollar question, like, what's an impact? Charity Navigator ratings. This one. That one so arbitrary or super convoluted or like. I mean, you can there are just it can be very challenging. So what we decided to do early on with our nonprofit profiles is really make it up to the donor to make the decision on like, quote, impact, but to give all the information that we know of and any helpful information we can give without us being the designator. Right. We don't want to be the one to say you're high impact, you're not. Which originally when we first started, we're like, OK, we're just going to curate high impact nonprofits. And soon into that, we're like, wait, that's not what we're good at. Like, what we're good at is helping donors discover nonprofits. We're not a rater, you know, we're not a rating system. So what we did with that, which is really fun, we have these badges. So they're like six different badges, they're really fun. There's like hometown hero, startup, established, programing pro, like a lot of your dollars go to programing. There's a whole I forgot what the other ones are. And we have all these badges that nonprofits get some automatically based on numbers and their 990 and or year established in their 990. And then some are a little bit more work for us to find out if they qualify for. And so we use those. So that way they're not like a star rating, like you're good, you're bad which is so painful for some nonprofits, and also sometimes ends up being like a really big distraction for nonprofits. Instead, we use these other things because when we talk to donors, we realize some donors really wanted to give to up and coming startup nonprofits. Some people wanted to give to established nonprofits that have been around for a long time. Some folks just wanted to make sure that they had, you know, high programing percentage in their budget. Those were all things that we use to designate. But we'll never give a badge that says high impact. Because we're not, it's really hard to be the arbiter of that.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Rachel Klausner And we really wanted the donor to kind of have all this information. So they have all the financials on there automatically pulled in. They have these badges that they can filter by and categories and photos and statistics that nonprofits can add and stories like nonprofits can build their page. So we really want them to feel like, OK, I'm going to tell my story. No one's going to like judge me and I'm going to let the donor decide if they want to donate. It's a challenge though.

Justin Wheeler I mean, most people, they want to work for a company that cares about the world and wants to make a difference, you know, whether it's related to the actual thing that it is that they're selling. What you guys do is you kind of close that like that loop on if I'm going to give, my business is going to match it. And that transparency is almost enough sort of impact to the initial employee to see, this is a great place to work. Like I care about this nonprofit, my employer just match a donation to it. A lot of times that can be enough sort of impact where the donor feels empowered and compelled to keep on giving. So I love that the transparency that is built into your guys' product to show between the employer and the employees is very strong.

Rachel Klausner You know, we have this dashboard, which has been so fun for companies that employees and employers have access to. And it's so cool to watch. Like, you can see all these metrics, you see how you're doing, how the company is doing, top nonprofits, people they've impacted. It pulls in all these impact metrics from the nonprofits folks have given to. So a lot of the content that nonprofits showcase on their profiles actually gets pulled in when companies donate. So that's been super cool because especially now that everyone's remote. Companies are trying to figure out, like one company we spoke to last week was like, we just want a tool, like to connect people if it can be around giving. Great. But we're just trying to get people connected because we all feel so distant. Yeah. So it's been really interesting. And I think the transparency is like we'll... you said it, the platform and that's because I just love design and I just throw too much on a page, but I just love showing numbers and getting people excited around like a communal effort.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. I actually want to talk a bit about that transition a little bit to kind of your design background, because I think this is pretty important, especially for nonprofits, Millie is a great looking product. The brand is awesome. Why should nonprofits care about great design, good brand? You know, from your perspective, someone that's helping facilitate donation dollars to nonprofits, someone that gives two to charity and someone that has a design background, why should nonprofits care more about the way the things they put out on the Internet, they should look good. Like what from your perspective, why is that important?

Rachel Klausner Yeah. So, I mean, obviously, I'm a designer. Someone tell you the most important. Impact first and then design is like if you actually want to fundraise. I really do believe that first impressions make all the difference. But not just first impressions, like all of your touchpoints. All of your impressions, like all those experiences that you have with a brand or a nonprofit, those experiences end up translating to how you feel. Part of those experiences can be in-person volunteering and all that stuff. But the brand can help put it in a really beautiful box and lay the story out and there's so much beyond just like the visuals and the colors, that in design, really help storytelling. So if let's say you're, you know, that's kind of how I try and frame it. Let's say you're trying to tell the story of your nonprofit or a new program you want to run. Yeah, ok, you can write like a one-pager and send it out. But imagine if it was beautiful and had statistics and images and the whole storytelling experience of that one-pager or of the web page you have on that program. It really does like, not every individual that donates can go see your physical space or see the volunteering happen or your actual programing, you know, out in the real world. Like a lot of them, their only experience with you is that website, right? Is that branded experience? And so if you're not spending time on that, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage to fundraise. What I will say, the best silver lining about design in the nonprofit world right now is, as opposed to certain other industries, especially like certain industries and tech and things like that, where it's like a nonstarter. Like you need to have good design to be a part of, you know, be a player. With nonprofits I think it's just, design lags a little bit. So for the companies that have really prioritized design, they've catapulted themselves out of this world. Right. And so I know, like Charity Navigator probably comes up as like, you know, something that people think of. There are a whole bunch where they just prioritize design at the beginning. And because of that, they were able to craft this brand that people got behind in a way that really made them into the huge organization they are today.

Justin Wheeler We actually had an individual on the podcast a few weeks ago from a creative agency. Started a creative agency for nonprofits. And I love the thought he had that was, nonprofits need to think about their website, their digital sort of experience, their brand, like they need to think about it as a program like they do, you know, any of their impact programs because it's really the top of the funnel to get people engaged and take and to care. And so it should be considered table stakes for today's, you know, the 21st century modern nonprofit. And you're absolutely right. The organizations that are growing specifically online are organizations that have really made this a priority.

Rachel Klausner Yeah. Which I think is such a positive in terms of thinking about, you know, running a nonprofit. I was talking to a friend who, like, just became the executive director of a nonprofit and was saying to her like if you invest just a little bit in design, you will so set yourself apart because no one else in your space, in this local area, has a great brand or has really invested in it. And so I honestly think it's really interesting because it feels like in 10 to 15 years, all nonprofits will know that they have to have great branding. But it feels like it's still nascent in the nonprofit world. And so it allows nonprofits that do prioritize it now to really stand out. So I also think it's just really exciting. Like, I just get energized when I talk to nonprofits are starting to do a rebrand. I'm like, you are doing awesome. Like, is going to have so much impact on your organization.

Justin Wheeler And what I love about it is that, you know, 10 years ago, it would have been like if you had a nice website or good marketing and branding, you were considered to be wasting money and that money should be going, but I think now, because it's becoming more of a table stakes conversation, if you don't have those things, do I really want to donate to this organization? If they can't even, you know, like if the entry point the organization isn't even efficient is actually making it back to that it's saying so? I think it's an interesting, interesting conversation. And the fact that donors are becoming more tolerant of sort of organizations spending more on design and marketing and branding, I think is a good indicator of where the industry is going and in the long run. So the main sort of demographic that you guys are selling to today are corporations. If an individual is listening to this, you know, works for a company and wants their company, how do they go about introducing Millie to their company or how do they get in touch to sort of make that connection to Millie?

Rachel Klausner Great question. So they can go to our website and they can just put their name in a little form at the bottom, which is or feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions. It's just But yeah, I mean, I think if anyone is interested or even talking about it, regardless if their company wants to do it, like I just love talking about it. This is always fun. And I love talking to nonprofits even and just getting them on board as well, because it's really they are the content of the platform right there. They are really what make this brand and what make people excited about it. So thank you so much. By the way, I just want to say we did not talk about Funraise during this design conversation, but I am obsessed with Funraise's design/everything. The entire product experience, the branding around it. I mean, I really think it's truly inspiring, especially for all these nonprofits that are starting to kind of start new programs and be empowered by the branding around them. I've always been a huge fan, so just shout out to the Funraise design team.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, well thank you! All credit goes to Erin, who's listening in on this who is the voice and has really created Funraise's voice. Ah, Bryn and Kevin, who have played an important role on the design side as well. So we do have a great design and copy team and so very glad to hear and thank you for that compliment. Glad to hear that it has resonated. But Rachel, thank you so much for joining the podcast today. I really do appreciate it. And we look forward to getting this out there and for people to listen to. And I wish you nothing but success as you continue to scale up and grow. Millie giving. Thank you for tackling such an important issue and making giving accessible to the average donor. So keep it up.

Rachel Klausner Thank you. You, too.

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