GiveCampus recently hit a milestone, as the D.C. startup’s fundraising platform is now used at 500 schools and colleges.
Founded in 2014 by Johns Hopkins University grads Kestrel Linder and Michael Kong, the platform looks to bring crowdfunding to the process where educational institutions raise money. The cofounders initially went through Silicon Valley accelerator Y-Combinator, which has a standard deal to invest $120,000. Since then, Linder said the company hasn’t raised any outside funding. Linder said the goal from the start was to build a sustainable company that could fund its own growth, and so the focus has been on growing paying partnerships.
That roster now includes colleges like Wellesley College and Davidson College. It’s also found growth working with K-12 schools. Among hundreds nationally, D.C. participants include Sidwell Friends School, Georgetown Preparatory School, Episcopal High School, The Madeira School and Gonzaga College High School.
With the product, the company focused on encouraging alums to tap into their own social networks to donate, just as other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo do. The idea is that the small-dollar donations that have powered grassroots campaigns could also help schools. As Technical.ly DC reported, they looked to personalize the fundraising campaigns for schools and provide useful data as they built the product. Linder has found bringing some fun to the process has also been key.
“The whole idea with our flagship product is we want to make it easier to give and we want to make it more fun,” Linder said. “…What we’ve seen over the last three years is that it works. When you make it more fun to give, they’re more likely to give, they give more and more often – and those are the outcomes schools need.”
It’s also meant taking more space at the company’s WeWork 80 M St. offices. Currently, the company has 24 employees, which is double the number from the beginning of 2018. Linder said he expects to reach 35 employees by the end of the year.
“What we’ve wanted to do is make sure we’re growing the business at the business’ pace,” he said. “When we hire new people, we’re hiring new people because we have more users to support.”
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