As brands continue to try and align with public causes that will encourage consumers to spend money without guilt, a platform that streamlines the charity-while-shopping transaction online is looking to grow with new investment money.
ShoppingGives, founded in 2015 by chief executive officer Ronny Sage, has landed a $5.5 million seed round led by Caffeinated Capital but alongside a coterie of other investors, including Tuesday Capital, Background VC and Big Future Fund. ShoppingGives previously raised $1.7 million in two pre-seed rounds. The company is a “turnkey” platform that online retailers can use to enable shoppers to donate to nearly any charitable cause, wherein it manages the entire donation process. And while it wasn’t looking to raise this money now, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, business started to surge so much that Sage said he had to start the process.
“In March, when it hit, I was having some priming conversations for later in the year, but I stopped all of them,” Sage said. “Then it was just suddenly exponential. We more than doubled in size. Kenneth Cole reached out and 48 hours later we were live. We realized we were built for this.”
“Social impact is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather a requirement for success” Tina Bou-Saba, founder of Big Future Fund, said. “To thrive in d-t-c and e-commerce business among impact-focused generations, brands and retailers need to contribute to measurable change.”
Raymond Tonsing, founder and managing partner at Caffeinated Capital, said that given the growth of e-commerce during the pandemic combined with a consuming public wanting to contribute to positive change, “We see the intersection of impact and commerce as one with infinite opportunity.”
And while growth of the business since the beginning of the pandemic has leveled off, Sage said he’s expecting to “see that kind of growth again in spikes,” not least because the world has no shortage of catastrophic events and people in need of charitable support.
“This is a generation, Millennials and Gen Z, of micro-philanthropists,” Sage said. “They want to feel good about what they do.”
He said luxury clients in particular have been surprised at people making big ticket purchases online and deciding to donate a portion of the sale to a charitable cause.
“Our generation is very passive, we want passive impact,” Sage said. “People are looking for it. And I believe in the future, ShoppingGives will be at the center of every shopping transaction.”
ShoppingGives launched on Shopify last year and is already working on being part of in-store POS systems, too. It does not take any fee out of any amount that is donated to a nonprofit; instead the retailer hires it outright. And so far, more than 1,400 retailers have done so, including Natori, White+Warren, Neighborhood Goods and Highline Wellness.
Sage said ShoppingGives has “case study after case study” showing that when consumers are given the option to donate while shopping, opt-ins, engagement and conversion all go up.
“We’re not a conversion optimization tool, but we see incredible lifts in conversion rate based on the feel-good value when a shopper chooses a cause,” Sage said.