By Allan Maurer
Most of us like to do good when we can, but many of us don’t have a lot of disposable cash to donate to worthy causes. Atlanta-based Socialvest makes giving not only easy – it doesn’t take the money out of your pocket.
Founded in 2010 and launched in the fall of 2011, Socialvest is a cause-based shopping platform that lets members earn money in a Giving Account that can be donated to any combination of more than 1.5 million registered non-profits in its database.
They do it using a browser app or the new iPhone app. Apps for other mobile devices will be available in the future.
Even little amounts are meaningful
“When someone makes their first purchase and sees money in their Giving Account, they get so excited, even if it’s only $3,” says Founder Adam Ross. “These little amounts you pick up along the way are meaningful.”
The money comes from the companies members buy from and doesn’t cost them anything extra. Amazon, for instance, gives the customer 4 percent back for his Giving Account.
Ross says that after a friend started a for-profit to help homeless women, he realized “You can build something that does good and makes money.”
He notes that “Everyone has something they care about. Socialvest makes it convenient for people to invest in social good.”
What do the brands get out of it?
An alternative to “disloyalty platforms”
“They get social promotion and loyalty,” Ross says. As opposed to say, Groupon, which he calls “a disloyalty program.” Offering the cheapest haircut or sushi deal is not the way to build loyalty, he says.
“We think that’s bad for retailers, particularly smaller ones.”
On the other hand, he says, data suggests people want to support causes they care about. “We have a platform that lets them do that.”
The company weaves its platform into social media so members can let their social networks know when they’ve made a contribution – which also gives the brand social exposure in a good light. “It’s true ambassadorship for brands,” Ross says.
SocialVest, meanwhile, gets “really interesting data,” he adds. “Big shops and boutiques all want to provide one-to-one conversations and personalized experiences. The data isn’t personally identifiable but its good aggregate data.”
Ross says the firm is also looking at how it can help brick and mortar retailers and expects to roll out a non-profit fund raising product at some point.
The five-person company raised a second round in May from Bluff Point Associates of Westport, Connecticut, bringing its total venture backing to $2.3 million.
The Socialvest team includes Allen Graber, who focuses on partnerships and operations. Graber most recently worked with ShopVisible and Ignition One in online and search marketing. Graber has invested in several early-stage companies and served on various boards, published a blog on Facebook commerce, and is co-owner of the Octane Pocket Bar.
Tom Wessling has 25 years in sales and marketing, including loyalty and interactive marketing.
Charles Campbell is a 10-year veteran software developer who worked with Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cisco, and other firms.
Marketing and brand strategist Julia Lavine led development, web strategy and the interactive marketing program, including search, email, mobile and social at the Atlanta Journal-Constitutuion.