Last month we partnered with Sharitive, and on May 1st the app launched in the cafe. We are super pumped about the partnership and are excited to see Shartive grow here at Crema and beyond! I (Liz Cohen) sat down with Lizzie Bildner, founder of Sharitive to talk about the app, giving, community and the future. Here’s a preview: It’s awesome.
The Crema crew loves Sharitive!
LC: What is Sharitive and why should people get involved?
LB: Sharitive is a mobile app that creates a new way to help give back to your community. The app allows you to allocate a portion of the money you are spending at Crema to a local non-profit. It’s the feel good app that makes giving easy (and doesn’t cost you a dime)!
LC: So Sharitive is a fool–proof way to give, huh? How does it work?
LB: Exactly! Check-in on your smart phone, make a purchase at your favorite local business (Crema!) and funds are automatically loaded into your account. Login and donate Crema’s dollars to your choice of our vetted portfolio of nonprofit partners. You also have the option to match donations with your own money and/or sign up to donate your time.
Lizzie helping a customer get setup with Sharitive
LC: I love it! Could this get any more convenient? I think not. So, how do you get started with Sharitive?
LB: To sign up, visit www.sharitive.org/app (in your browser, not the app store…yet). Bookmark Sharitive to your home screen so that you can easily access it. Every time you make a purchase at Crema, whether it’s your morning coffee, lunch, afternoon snack, or all three, use the code at the register to check-in. Immediately, you’ll see a dollar added into your Sharitive account that has been donated by Crema on your behalf. At any time you can donate those dollars to our nonprofit partners or even choose to match that gift; plus over time you can track all of your donations and see the impact you have had on your community.
LC: So, every time I check-in with the code at Crema, a dollar is added to my account that I can then donate?! That’s awesome. I think Sharitive is a really great gateway for consumers to start thinking about engaging with the non-profit community in a way that fits easily into daily routine. What’s your favorite thing about Sharitive?
LB: Sharitive is designed to connect community stakeholders in a conversation around support for their community’s most critical issues. By making a purchase at Crema with Sharitive, you’re not only supporting your local business, but you are then empowered to further give back to your community. By partnering with Sharitive, Crema doubles their charitable impact in the community by not only giving back but by engaging their customers in giving back as well. Our nonprofit partners, with the reception of new Sharitive funds, then deliver their incredible programming back to the community. It’s really this triple win cycle that I think is our secret sauce.
LC: Where did the need for Sharitive come from?
LB: The need for Sharitive is two-fold. First, there are financial limitations that often cause people to disengage with charitable giving because they don’t have time to identify organizations they are interested in or the capacity to donate. Second, businesses field an enormous amount of community and charitable requests, resulting in what we call “ask fatigue.” Sharitive addresses this need by creating a community-giving platform that allows businesses to easily engage and empower their customers to give back, on the businesses’ dime.
LC: Sharitive takes the work out of giving by setting up a system that breaks down the barriers that often stops or slows the giving process, that’s pretty amazing. How did you come up with the idea for Sharitive?
LB: The idea for Sharitive came from my own experiences with the very barriers I listed above. When I first moved to New York City in 2009, I was overwhelmed by the cost of living on my incredibly small salary, and the amount of time and effort it took me to identify and become connected to a local nonprofit that I cared about. I began thinking of ways to address what I saw as shortcomings in the charitable and community engagement space. After a couple years of mulling different versions over, I decided to finally do it and launched Sharitive in the fall of 2012.
LC: Sounds like you’ve done a great job nailing down your idea and making it a reality. What inspires you now and what has inspired you in your journey to creating Sharitive?
LB: I’ve drawn inspiration from a lot of sources – I worked in the arts and loved experiencing the ways that artists communicate ideas to an audience; I then worked closely with other founders at a branding startup where you can’t help but be inspired by the intensity and passion that founders bring to their ideas. Now with Sharitive in action, I’m inspired most by the people I work with. Plus, the seemingly endless number of ways that we can address social issues with the use of new technology keeps the wheels turning constantly. I think that’s what makes the social innovation space so exciting and rewarding.
LC: What does the future of Sharitive (and the future of charitable giving) look like?
LB: Right now, our biggest challenge is developing a more seamless way to integrate Sharitive into a consumer’s experience. I think there will be a continued interest in garnering new funding via online, mobile solutions. However, I think the success of fundraising in the future will depend on an organization’s ability to demonstrate impact (and impact defined in other ways than just the overhead rate) as well as their ability to close the loop after a donor gives, which right now, I think could use some serious improvements. That’s another shortfall Sharitive is trying to solve.
LC: Why did you choose Crema to be Sharitive’s launch partner? Why do you think Sharitive will be successful here?
LB: Because Sharitive is so closely tied to community, I wanted to launch at a location that was intricately connected to one. As anyone who goes to Crema knows, it functions very much like a community anchor for both the University community and the larger Harvard Square community. It was great luck and timing that Marley and Liza were looking for a new way to give back and engage with their customers. Crema really has become an incredible partner to Sharitive.
I think Sharitive is already successful in Crema exactly for that reason. Crema’s customers are local and are supportive of the local community, so the concept of being thanked for that loyalty and support in a way that further enables them to give back to that very community, just makes sense. The challenge for us will be expanding beyond and seeing whether that attitude and idea translates.
LC: Yeah! Liza and Marley have been talking for a while about ways they can use Crema to help give back; Sharitve is a perfect fit! How does Sharitive build community?
LB: Sharitive enhances a community, rather than builds it. Our program allows different community participants to interact and engage with one another. As we grow, we’ll be hosting different types of events such as meet and greets with our nonprofit partners, site visits, panels, etc. We’re trying to take a holistic approach to community by emphasizing person-to-person, rather than technology-driven, interaction.
LC: I love that idea! Face to face interaction is so important for creating a real connection and helping people stay engaged and feel a part of something meaningful. Sharitive launched with Crema on May 1st. Now that it’s been a month, can you talk a little bit about how it went? Were there any surprises?
LB: Absolutely! We definitely went through every emotion and obstacle possible during the launch. Enthusiasm, energy, rejection, you name it! What was incredible however is that if I had to estimate the number of positive responses we received, I would put it at about 75%, which when you think about cold calling, is really high! I credit the community for that. The biggest surprise at the end of the month was realizing that of the $271 dollars we generated, only a quarter was donated. When I followed up with our users to remind them of remaining funds in their accounts, the majority responded to tell me that they were saving up. I think that is so cool and can’t wait to see how those funds are allocated over the next couple months. For more detailed information on numbers and thoughts moving forward, check out our recent May Recap on our blog (www.sharitive.org/blog).