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Podcast: Giving for the Holiday Season

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Americans are generous. In 2018, for example, it was estimated that as a nation, Americans gave more than $427 billion to charities.

As impressive as that number is, when adjusted for inflation, it actually represents a slight decline in giving, according to a 2019 Giving USA report.

What’s more, it may be the case that while the total amount of donations is rising, the number of individuals giving may be down slightly. There are certainly many factors that impact why and how folks donate, but could part of the problem be that the act of giving — entering a payment card, finding the proper branch of the charity, and ensure the donation is processed properly — is too complex.

This is the problem that Givz hopes to address. The company provides a platform to facilitate giving. There specialty is in letting businesses give customers “Givz Cash” that can be used to donate to any registered charity in the United States.

For this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, you will hear from Andrew Forman, Givz’ CEO. Please listen to the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.

Armando: In the United States, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving as we gather with friends and family to remember how fortunate we are. From there we celebrate religious and cultural festivals including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Finally, the holiday season comes to a close as we ring in the new year, waiting for the ball to drop over New York’s Times Square. And I will bet that however you celebrate the holiday season, it’s a time of giving and caring.

Well, my name is Armando Roggio and in this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, I’m going to speak with Andrew Forman who is the Founder and CEO of Givz, which is a company that makes giving charitable donations much easier.

Andrew, thank you for joining me on the podcast.

Andrew: Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

A Purpose-driven Company

Armando: Andrew, will you tell us about your company, Givz. What is it? What does it do? What is its purpose?

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. So purpose is a good word. So Givz at its core is a purpose-driven marketing tech solution that drives growth and engagement by actually doing good.

So we help brands strengthen, protect their consumer brand relationships in a way that serves all stakeholders, so brands, customers, and the community at large.

Brands are able to reward customers with gifts, cash back for completing a purchase, or writing a review, or doing whatever it is that the brand wants them to do. And this can be served as its own conversion incentive, or it can be combined with an existing conversion incentive such as, “you get 15-percent off and $10 to give to a charity.” We would call that something like a discount plus, for example.

So after completing a successful order, whatever, if it’s driving a sale, or if it’s writing a review, or if it’s engaging with an app 10 times in a month, whatever success is for the brand, then the customer can claim and donate their Givz cash to any U.S. charity of their choice. From the largest charities that you know and love, right down to your local animal shelter in your hometown of Wisconsin, that you also know and love.

So this can all be done using any device from your phone, iPad, computer, in less than 15 seconds.

How Givz Got the Idea

Armando: How did you come up with the idea for Givz? What was the impetus?

Andrew: Yeah, so that goes back over a decade now. Back when I first, in 2009, co-founded a nonprofit organization called Global Goodness, where I was the treasurer. My job was actually just to raise the small amount of funds that we needed each year to operate. So from that you learn a lot.

So, of course on the consumer side, I thought it was annoying that every time I wanted to make a $25 donation I had to type in my name, address, credit card, phone number, name of firstborn child, whatever else it may be. But from the actual trying to get money from people, for an amazing cause that we were working on, I experienced it from that side as well.

By the time Venmo came out, 2012, 2013, people were just Venmo-ing me instead of using our website. That just creates all sorts of issues. And so I felt quite strongly at that time, “Hey, we should create a frictionless way to give to any charity in America, have it all collated in one spot, and you can have all your tax deductible receipts in one place, come tax time, and learn about an amazing cause and give $25 in a heartbeat.”

I thought that would increase overall giving, and increase satisfaction and get a lot of these charities, the money that they needed. So that was the initial piece for Givz. But then we actually were able to identify something back in 2017 when, I don’t know if we call it a swell or a rise, of people caring about something, anything, just started happening.

So I don’t know if it’s the popularity of social media. Whatever it is, it’s demand from consumers that people are becoming more vocal about what they care about. Whether it’s social, environmental concerns, anything like this, they expect and demand brands to play a role in improving this situation that is here in our society.

So with that new lens, we had already built the frictionless tech that allowed you to donate to any charity in America. We thought, “Hey, here’s an opportunity to provide a marketing tech solution to companies. To brands, that would enable them to meet the consumers where the demand is for doing something good in this world, while also driving growth as determined by those brands.”

Again, ensuring success for all the stakeholders, their company, the consumer, and the community.

Facebook Scare

Armando: You mentioned a swell in donations or caring about a cause, and reminded me that recently my friend Jacquie had a birthday, and rather than asking for gifts, she posted on Facebook asking for donations to a charity she cared about.

Andrew: That’s exactly the swell that we’re talking about. And that actually reminds me of a funny, well, quasi funny story, but way back when and just the perils of starting a business. So when I launched Givz, my cofounder and I were very, very excited. We had put six months into working on the UI, UX and trying to get this product to market.

A friend of mine, I remember where I was, forwards me something and says, “Hey, by the way, Facebook just built exactly what you’re talking about and they’re calling it the Facebook donate button and you guys are screwed.” Pardon my French.

And so that was some tough times at first. And then, realized that, “Hey, if we can actually realize this vision, if Facebook can realize the vision for us then great, we want there to be a solution out here.” This is why we started the company to begin with. And as it turns out, there’s plenty of room for both players there.

It Even Works for Weddings

Armando: Andrew, previously you told me a story about how Givz was used at a wedding. Would you mind sharing that with our audience too?

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. So one of my friends actually just got married this past Saturday, even. She as a party favor for people attending the wedding, instead of giving like a little goody bag, knickknacks, whatever, at dinner, everybody had a slip of paper that had a QR code and a website on it and it said, “Hey, we appreciate you guys joining us on this special day. Here’s $20 to give to any charity that you want because what you care about, we care about.”

It was very cool. We had the whole room, this is not something that has really been done before, and there was a murmur across the entire place saying how cool that was. And it went over really well. So it was exciting.

We Care

Armando: I really liked what you said there. You said, “we care about what you care about.” And in a sense this is what your platform does, right? It allows companies, brands, businesses, to do that for their customers.

As a consumer, perhaps as someone who’s going to buy an electric bike, sometimes the buying decision is about more than just specifications or about a discount. Sometimes it’s nice to do business with a company that cares about the same things you do.

Andrew: That’s exactly right. And that is what we enable companies to do. The awesome part for us is that in the past six weeks we’ve launched over a dozen of these campaigns with brands across multiple verticals. The results have been incredible.

We’ve seen up to a 40-percent reduction in costs of acquisition on paid ads. We’ve seen a 30-percent lift on large orders, which I can explain and get into. We’ve seen a 4X increase in traffic to site. I think that could be partially just people being like, “Wait, I’m going to purchase this pair of shoes and I’m going to get $60 to give to charity. Let me learn more about this.”

Then we’ve seen improved conversion rates too on top of that, 50, 60 percent plus, which is has been unheard of for a while. At the end of the day, in November alone, we’ve sent over 50 grand to charities, well deserving charities, and that’s now over $300,000 to date. And that’s why we’re here.

A Growing Company

Armando: How large is the company? Are there a hundred employees or is it just you and a co founder?

Andrew: Yeah. Great. So we are actually seven full time folks, so definitely not a hundred, although hopefully next year we’ll be there. Maybe two years.

We are seven people. It was my cofounder and I for 2017. We did add our first technical lead in 2018 and then have grown the team quite significantly since.

A Good Giving Experience

Armando: Givz enables a business to let its customers give to a favorite charity. Do you have any feedback from the folks who are actually picking a charity and donating with the Givz cash?

Andrew: Yeah, and so what’s interesting is the way that it actually works is we can have the brand…When somebody goes to claim that money, the brand highlights what they care about. So if you are a vitamins company and you’re all about health and wellness, there’s going to be health and wellness charities that are going to populate on the screen.

This is an example from a Givz landing page. Notice the three option, plus the search.

 

So there’s going to be three charities that they care about, that 75 percent of consumers will end up donating to one of those three charities. The interesting part has been the 25 percent of people that use the search bar to find that local Animal Shelter in their hometown of Wisconsin that they’d give to…couldn’t believe that they bought vitamins and were able to give $30 to their local animal shelter on that vitamin company.

That’s when we get emails back. A lot of it has come from the companies that we work with actually sending us the emails from their happy customers saying, “Hey, this is really cool.”

EVELO & Givz

Armando: Well, along the lines of things that are really cool, let’s let the cat out of the bag, if you will. How is it that that we came to be talking on the podcast today?

Andrew: Well, I think that actually the initial piece there was our head of sales, Ben Astin, who reached out to you guys initially. We had just been just starting our cold outreach. I guess we shot off an email and you answered. So thank you for that.

Armando: Well I was impressed with Givz and what you do. So in December, 2019, EVELO will be partnering with Givz and when someone buys an EVELO electric bike during December, we will give that person some Givz money to donate to a charity. Is that the right way to put it?

Andrew: That’s right. We’re calling it “Givz cash back.” So there’s this whole, Shop to Givz, piece of of this. We actually are trying to come up with a – Shop to Givz, I think is what we’re going to what we’re going to end up settling on.

But yeah, the hope is that you buy the best bike on the market and you in return not only receive the best bike in the market, and I don’t know how long shipping takes, but you receive that in short order I’m sure. And then you also get some money to support your favorite charity, which I think is just really cool. I’m super pumped to be working with you guys.

Armando: Andrew, I’ve enjoyed having you on the podcast. Before we wrap up, is there anything else that you want to say about your company or about giving?

Andrew: Honestly, it’s been a pleasure. I really appreciate you taking the time to have me on as a guest and I couldn’t be more pumped. We sent a fair number of emails out into the ether and to be connected with brands that truly do care about helping the world, about their customers. It’s been a pleasure working with you guys and I’m very excited to see how this goes in December.

Armando: Awesome. Thanks very much. And thank you for listening to this, the Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO.

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