Philanthropy / Startups

This Baltimore startup is looking to put company charitable giving in employees’ hands

Pinkaloo created a platform that lets employees set aside funds to donate, and choose which charities they want to support.

With the holidays completed, the unofficial season of charitable giving may be coming to a close. But there’s no limit on when to make a contribution to a worthy cause, and a lot of year-round activity happens through workplaces.
Heading into this year, a Baltimore startup is looking to grow its new take on charitable giving within offices.
Pinkaloo’s platform is designed to empower employees to donate to the organizations and charities they choose. CEO Gideon Taub and COO Daniel Gardner recently showed us a demo at R. House, which is just below the company’s office inside the headquarters of edtech startup Allovue.
Many giving programs are designed to support specific charities, where employees give to one cause.
“We’re trying to flip that on its head where each employee can give to any charity they want,” Taub said.
The platform lets employees budget funds into an account for giving. To find where to give, they can search a database of any org that’s registered with the IRS by category. To keep it local, there’s also a location search based on ZIP code.
Once the donation is complete, the platform provides a tax receipt for the employees. “You can set aside $5 or $10 per pay period and get that tax receipt immediately as soon as that transfer happens,” Gardner said.
While letting employees choose, the startup doesn’t want to lose the community aspect of giving. To that end, the startup created a feed so that colleagues can see who is giving where. It also allows the employees to “chip in” to add to a colleague’s donation, as well. While employees don’t have to reveal what charity they gave to – even to the employers – the idea is to provide more chances for interaction around giving.
“Those are the kinds of experiences that the companies we’re working with are looking to provide around workplace giving – making it feel more like a community and making it feel like you’re doing something with your peers as opposed to something each employee is doing individually.”
We’ve seen other startups take on charitable giving, but the ability to set up an account and the social approach help Pinkaloo stand out, as well as the tax docs that are provided right away.
The startup is looking to work with larger companies who are willing to take a new approach to giving. The platform is offered through a license to the employers, who get a customized version that includes branding and other specific details. Employers can still promote which causes they want to champion, and even offer to match donations by the employees. But the choice is in the hands of the workers.

Taub, who previously worked at Videology, initially got the idea for the company after looking at his 2016 returns and realizing he should’ve given more.
“I didn’t find organizations and local orgs that matched my interest, it was easier not to give,” he said. “And because I didn’t budget money and set it aside and put it into an account each month where it was earmarked for charity, I wasn’t giving.”
He noted that there are accounts for health savings and retirement, but not charitable giving.
As they’ve developed the product and run several pilots, the bootstrapped startup has grown to include six team members.
Pinkaloo recently joined the latest cohort of PeopleTech Partners, a San Francisco-based program that provides support to startups in the human resources space. It offers connections to a network of people and companies working in the space who can help develop the product.

More updates to the product are expected in 2018. Taub and Gardner said the company are looking to provide more data around orgs, and they are currently beta testing a dashboard for employers.

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