Website offers one-stop charitable giving.
“As the community foundation, we wanted to make sure our community knowledge was available to everybody,” says Angela Parsons, the foundation’s vice president of donor services and development. There wasn’t always a single place, she pointed out, where donors could search for and then give to the philanthropic organizations that align with their passions.
So the foundation developed new software to address that need. Introduced in the summer of 2017, the Giving Store was a natural move for the Columbus Foundation, which already had extensive information on nonprofits in the 10-county Central Ohio area. “We had our website—all these great stories, great information—and then we had separate portals where donors would go to see their fund information,” Parsons says. “The biggest thing is combining the website with that portal, so they get information about critical need alerts and award winners as soon as they log on to the website.”
“For nonprofits, there’s really no downside” to inclusion in the Giving Store, Parsons says. “They’re not paying additional fees. A lot of them have not had the budget or the time to set up [online] fundraising.” The Giving Store offers a bonus for taxpayers: annual itemized reports of their tax-deductible gifts.
In addition to alerts about critical needs in the community, the Giving Store offers Better Together, a platform for crowdfunding responses to community needs—with no credit card fees. In the first 10 months following Better Together’s launch in November 2017, 18 projects raised more than $144,000 for nonprofits in the Columbus region.
Visitors to the foundation’s website can also help Central Ohio families with one-time grants for emergency needs through Gifts of Kindness. And visitors to the Giving Store can purchase gift cards—physical or electronic, in denominations of $20, $50 or $100—to “give the gift of giving,” allowing their friends, family or colleagues to select one of the 1,026 organizations listed in the Giving Store as the recipient of their support.
Embracing the ingenuity of ecommerce, the Giving Store makes recommendations for projects similar to those a website visitor has already supported or searched. “There are things we learned from retail,” Parsons says. “We did want to think about user experience with this—what people do when they’re searching around for something.”
By providing easy access to information and effortless transactions, the Columbus Foundation seems to have found a cause everyone can rally around: making giving as simple as possible.
To learn more, go to columbusfoundation.org.