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Feb. 23, 2018
It started with envelopes on a wall in Haiti.
Numbered 1 through 150, they hung waiting for donations corresponding to their number.
A donor contributing the amount to match the envelope would take it off the wall and place it in a donation bin. Once all envelopes were gone, the organization raised $11,325.
“I thought, wow, that seems to easy and pretty impressive,” said Josh Sopko, who heard the story from a friend running a nonprofit in Haiti.
He told his friend: “Give me five minutes and I’ll find the platform online that does this.”
After weeks of searching, he realized none existed.
After two more weeks, his friend tried the concept on Instagram using a photograph of a grid and raised $15,000.
And shortly after that, Sopko and his wife, Brittany, started working on the platform that launched recently as Togetherr.
“I went from laughing at him to seriously looking into creating an easy-to-use online platform to help organizations raise money,” said Sopko, who has a background in construction and changed careers a free years ago with a media design degree. Now, he does freelance work building small-business websites.
Equity partners Trey Norman and Roger Jepsen, owners of the web development firm FlavorMob, helped build the online platform for Togetherr.
The product is unique in how it allows organizations to connect with donors in an engaging and accessible way, Sopko said.
“By utilizing the grid and allowing people to upload an image and enter their name, donors can now visually see the impact of their gift,” he said. “At its core, we’re trying to play ‘blackout’ on the grid. At this stage, every square holds the same value. So if you give $5 or $50, you’ve helped complete an entire square, and you’ve impacted the effort signficiantly.”
The platform is for organizations only, so it doesn’t compete with platforms designed for individual fundraising campaigns, and it helps prevent fraudulent fundraising, he said. Togetherr’s fee is 7 percent of the amount raised plus credit card processing fees.
“The platform isn’t a ‘build it and they will come.’ Organizations still have to utilize fundraising efforts to tell their donor base about a campaign,” Sopko added. “We are currently working on some features to help integrate some of those strategies into the platform, but at the end of the day, organizations need to pull the trigger and send emails, messages and do some social sharing.”
Togetherr launched with 10 organizations running 40-day campaigns with mixed results depending on how broadly they communicated about their efforts, he said.
“We are looking for highly motivated organizations that are looking for new ways to fundraise and are willing to try a few new strategies to get their campaigns funded,” he said. “I truly feel that once we have a few successfully funded campaigns under our belt, we’ll have some case studies and user examples to start promoting farther and wider. Our true hope for this is that in a few years, the way we raise and give money online will be completely transformed.”
A Sioux Falls startup is trying to change the way organizations raise money online.