The gift of the app

Giveo is a new fundraising platform that could be a game changer for the non-profit sector. Development expert Doug Evans shares the details.

Let’s face it – most of us have too much stuff. The obsolete cell phone sitting in its box. The sweater that stubbornly refuses to fit. The exercise gear that seemed like a good idea at the time, but is now just gathering dust (which goes some way to explaining why that sweater doesn’t fit). You could list it for sale online, but that seems like a lot of effort when you don’t really need the money. Ideally, you’d donate it to a good cause, but if you simply hand it all to your favourite arts organisation you know that’s really just creating more work for them.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just turn all that unwanted clutter into cash and then donate it your favourite orchestra, theatre company or dance troupe, without any hassle, admin or hard work? 

Well, now you can, thanks to Giveo, a new app that allows people to sell their unwanted items online and give the cash directly to their favourite charity. Launched in August 2021, and led by experienced software developer Greg Okon, the app is already having a positive impact for thousands of small arts organisations…because, while we might have too much stuff, arts organisations never have enough money. 

“Giveo is transformational fundraising,” says Doug Evans, chief development officer at Giveo. “It’s a very simple way to raise $100 or $100,000, and for small arts organisations that are struggling right now that money could make a huge difference.” 

Doug should know; he’s worked in arts management and fundraising for the last 35 years, leading groups like Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment and the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. He’s also a long time member of the Broadway League and a founder of the Independent Presenters Network. Along the way, he’s raised hundreds of millions of dollars. 

“When I started out there was no way to reach out to potential donors except to send them a piece of mail,” he reflects. “So to have this app, where users can just point, click and almost instantly raise money for the arts, it’s incredible to see that progress.”

As for how the app works, it’s very simple. Charities can sign up and then let their followers and fans know that they’re accepting donations through Giveo. Anyone who has something to sell can download the app and take a photo of the item. The AI in the app will recognise the item and provide a description. Then, when another user buys it, 100% of the money goes directly to the seller’s chosen charity.  

As a result of this simple and streamlined process, Giveo is very efficient for arts organisations looking to raise funds. 

“Traditionally you might organise a bake sale, a yard sale or another special event,” notes Evans. “But they take a lot of volunteer hours in order to make them happen. With this it’s just point and click and that’s it.

“It’s also great for smaller groups. Let’s say you’re a 4-piece chamber ensemble: you send out a message about donating via Giveo to your mailing list, and then use the money you raise to record an album, produce a video or anything else.”  

Right now Giveo is fully launched in the US, and the team are currently working on rolling it out across the rest of the globe. 

“Once we add additional languages and make a few other tweaks it will work anywhere,” says Evans. “So, if someone in Poland wants to raise money for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, or someone in Brazil wants to give money to their favourite samba group, they can.” 

As well as being easy to use, Giveo is also tied in with Google’s NPO Ad Grants scheme. That means that any NPO signing up will get USD120,000 worth of online advertising from Google. 

“It’s basically free marketing dollars, which is usually impossible to find,” says Evans. “These grants are an incredible way of letting people know that you want them to sell things and donate the money to you.” 

Giveo is actually Evans first foray into the tech sector, and something that he says has truly energised him since he came on board: “When I think about the money that small arts organisations could raise I get very excited…it’s going to have a huge impact in communities all over the world.” 

But while Evans is new to tech, he’s an old hand when it comes fundraising and arts leadership. As a result, he’s got plenty of advice to share for arts organisations looking to boost their fundraising. 

“The biggest mistake that they make is not understanding their audience,” he asserts. “You have to know what inspires them, what they like, and what turns them off. Once you know that you’ll programme the right shows, and the ticket money will follow.

“For example, if your theatre company has always done old fashioned musicals like Oklahoma, and then you throw Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in there, your audience will say ‘what the heck was that? Give me what I want’.”

That emphasis on understanding also applies to donors, he adds: “If you don’t know the motivations of that donor, then you can’t possible to talk to them about increasing their level of support. 

“You have to be brutally honest: fundraising is transactional. A corporation is not supporting you because they care about your art. They’re supporting you because they want to get the word out about their product and look good in the community.

He continues: “I had a donor that aI asked them for a million-dollar gift. I told them ‘I know that you love classical and you want to support this.’ And they said ‘yes, I do, but here’s what I really want: I want you to support and promote my other charity’. I said ‘great, let’s get it done’. 

“It’s the same for smaller gifts: if someone is donating to their local classical station, yes, they’re doing it to support the music, but they also expect a coffee mug or a tote bag.” 

As well as listening, it’s also about something that people in the arts are usually good at: telling stories. 

“Everyone has a story to tell,” explains Evans. “If it’s the million-dollar donor, they want to tell the story of their charity. The person supporting local radio proudly carries that tote bag as part of their identity – that’s their story. We have to help our donors and potential donors tell their stories.” 

As for the metrics of donations, that’s probably too technical of a subject to get into here, but Evans does have some basic pointers. Firstly, whenever possible, keep it personal. 

“Working in donations is more like data science nowadays, and it’s easy to lose that personal touch,” he says. “Whether that’s writing a great subject line for your mailer, or sharing a video from your first chair violinist, find whatever opportunities you can to create a personal moment.”

And the best place to do that, he adds, is when you’ve got them in the building. 

“When you have the audience in the venue, that’s your biggest opportunity to make a connection. When you walk on stage tell them ‘we’re so happy to have you here tonight, you have no idea what this means to us. Without you being here we can’t be here’. It’s easy to say because it’s true! So just stick with that truth and you’ll find it takes you a long way.” 

You can download Giveo from the App Store and from Google Play. For more information on Giveo head to giveo.app. To learn more about Douglas Evans consultancy work, go to premiereglobalpartners.com.

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