Startups

This mobile device is changing the way schools are fundraising

GiveCampus has found IRL success with GC Connect, a mobile device that allows schools to accept in-person donation at events.

GC Connect's mobile device, at right.

(Courtesy photo)

GiveCampus offers a digital fundraising and volunteer management platform for over 700 institutions across the United States, but its most recent success doesn’t stem from software.

The growing Navy Yard-based company launched GC Connect, its newest hardware product, in late June.

GC Connect is a mobile device that allows schools to accept in-person donations by swiping a credit card, inserting an EMV chip card or using a mobile wallet such as Apple Pay at fundraisers and alumni events.

“It’s kind of ironic that we built this product,” said cofounder and CEO Kestrel Linder. “One thing we started to recognize is that a lot of campaigns also had offline components. They had events, reunions and alumni happy hours that were being held in conjunction with fundraisers. At those events, there was an opportunity for in-person philanthropy.”

Unlike many card readers, GC Connect doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source. It’s completely mobile and uses Bluetooth to communicate with other devices. GC Connect is operational through the GC Connect app.

“We didn’t want to just replicate or moderately improve other things that exist,” Linder said. “What’s special about this hardware is that a fundraiser at a college or a high school can have it in their back pocket or purse wherever they are. The only other thing you need is a donor who wants to make a donation and an iOS device.”

Linder said the inspiration for the device came when his team recognized that in-person donations can be tricky because people don’t want to wait until after events to donate. Donors seek a streamlined avenue to be able to contribute.

“People don’t tend to carry their checkbook around,” Linder said. “We saw this opportunity to build something, to create a channel to make donations.”

Linder reports that the device has been a big success so far: Since launching, it has facilitated more than $100,000 in philanthropy for education, processed more than 1,000 donations and has been adopted by more than 100 schools across the country.

GC Connect’s success has been achieved with minimal marketing, but Linder said GiveCampus looks to push the product more as 2020 approaches.

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“We’ve never, in the span of just four months, had 150 schools buy one of our products, so it’s definitely moving really fast,” Linder said. “We don’t have any advertising about the product, so we’re feeling very optimistic that hundreds of more schools will be using this product in the next couple of months.”

Companies: GiveCampus
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