JoinGiving

Technical Co-founder, 2015 - 2017

JoinGiving is a platform that connects nonprofits and businesses to launch cause marketing campaigns.

JoinGiving

Role

I was primarily responsible for our technical stack and design, as well as contributions to the overall product roadmap.

The team was compromised of Anton German (product), Yoni Sarason (product), Heather Ward (product), Eugene Magdel (engineering), Bos Alvertos (design).

Eugene built the early version of our product, while I was responsible for the architecture and implementation of the platform for all our later products. Bos designed the early version of our product, as well as the logo, while I was responsible for creating the design system that dictated JoinGiving's visual treatment and UX for all our later products. Throughout the entire process, I collaborated with Yoni and Anton to lay out our product roadmap.

Problem

The nonprofit-corporation donation pipeline is mired with difficulties and friction on both ends.

For nonprofits, fundraising and seeking revenue sources is often a big pain point, with heavy reliance on personal connections, and for corporations, they either have difficulty finding and evaluating nonprofits to work with, or fail to see the value of charitable giving entirely.

In 2013, Only 5% of charitable giving came from corporations.

Solution

A platform that allows nonprofits to find businesses, and vice-versa, to form partnerships and collaboratively run cause marketing campaigns.

Nonprofit Process

1
Create Profile
Provide info about nonprofit such as # of followers, location, category, contact info.
2
Find Business
Browse for businesses based on factors such as areas of interest, fit, size, location.
3
Apply
Apply to any open campaigns businesses have put up on JoinGiving.

Business Process

1
Create Profile
Provide info about business such as areas of interest, years opened, size.
2
Create Open Campaign
Craft skeleton of campaign with budget, occasion, campaign type, areas of interest, etc.
3
Choose Nonprofit
Evaluate all the nonprofit applications from open campaign and choose a partner.

Once a business and a nonprofit have both agreed to the terms, a campaign is launched.

Process

Research

We noticed early on that there were a few problems that mired corporate giving.

  • Nonprofits often relied heavily on personal connections for fundraising. This led to a situation where nonprofits often had to form corporate partnerships with unsuitable businesses, or had trouble finding suitable partners entirely.
  • Businesses had to vet nonprofits to identify the ones that were both effective in carrying out their mission and aligned with the business's own mission. Even when successful partners were found, this due diligence often required a lot of time and resources.
  • Lack of easy, plug-and-play solution even when a partnership was formed. This meant the business often had to allocate employees and resources to setting up bespoke or one-time systems.

Worst of all, a poorly aligned nonprofit-business partnership was often a PR nightmare, as was in the case of the KFC and Susan G. Komen partnership (not to mention morally questionable).

KFC misaligned campaign with Susan G. Komen.

Early Prototype

For our initial prototype, we wanted to test the impact of charitable giving on checkout rates.

Eugene quickly built a plug-and-play widget that would pop up on the checkout page, prompting the customer to choose a nonprofit to whom MysteryTackleBox would donate a certain percent of their proceeds.

Our first prototype deployed on MysteryTackleBox in late 2014
Our first prototype deployed on MysteryTackleBox in late 2014

Bootstrapping the Platform

Once we validated the success of the widget, we began building out a landing page that targeted businesses.

Marketplaces are notoriously difficult to bootstrap in the beginning — we couldn't have just created a platform and hoped that nonprofits and businesses would immediately join.

The idea was to bootstrap it by capturing business leads first via a landing page, then we would work together with the businesses to approach nonprofits that fit their criteria.

Initial landing page, designed by Bos and implemented by me

Simplifying the Signup Process

Early on, we discovered that a huge amount of people dropped out of the signup process before even progressing onto the second page. This was problematic, as one might imagine, since we were relying on these business leads to seed the platform.

Our MVP business signup page

Bos at this time was slammed at his full-time position, so he transitioned the design role to me.

I worked with Anton and Yoni to identify questions we could trim and ways we could simplify the process. The result was placing the account sign up first, the business / nonprofit details second, and removing the campaign details altogether (that would move to a different of its own, after the user had already signed up).

The redesigned and simplified signup page

Building Out the Platform

After collecting enough business leads, we began building out the entire platform.

Redesigned landing / home page
Redesigned landing / home page
Browsing experience for businesses looking for nonprofits
Browsing experience for businesses looking for nonprofits
Business profile that highlights their campaigns
Business profile that highlights their campaigns

Outcome

200+
Nonprofits Signups
1st Prize
@ UChicago SNVC
24%
Checkout Increases
"During the holidays we ran a campaign powered by JoinGiving, and saw customers who selected a charity were 24% more likely to checkout than those that hadn't."
Ross Gordon
"Our target action was survey responses and by incentivizing our customers via micro-donations, we've gotten over 120% more responses."
Brad Kreiger
CMO of HardHatHub

Learnings

Despite shuttering down in 2017, JoinGiving was still an incredible learning experience for everybody on our team, myself especially.

I grew as an engineer and better understood how to architect and build large-scale systems; I grew as a designer and became more adept at creating complex design systems.

But, perhaps unparalleled, were the learnings from the product side: the failures, the successes, and the in-betweens.