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May 3, 2016
How Babson Startup Gravyty Helps Nonprofits Drive Charitable Giving

In the world of nonprofit fundraising, timing is everything. To secure substantial gifts, fundraisers must connect with donors within a very specific window of time - typically six weeks before the one-year anniversary of the donor’s last donation. If a fundraiser reaches out for a donation too soon or too late, it could significantly decrease a donor’s contribution or eliminate this year’s contribution altogether.

With this in mind, you might expect that nonprofits operate on high-end software to ensure fundraisers manage all of this information appropriately. But that’s not the case. Instead of leveraging state-of-the-art software, many nonprofit fundraisers are still tracking donor information via a manual Excel spreadsheets - meaning the opportunity for information to fall through the cracks is painfully high.

“The tools that fundraisers use are really inadequate for the type of fundraising and pressure put on us,” explains Adam Martel, Major Gifts Officer at Babson College. “The tools are really stuck in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.”

Martel (pictured, right), who is pursuing his MBA at Babson, is co-founder of Gravyty, a SaaS-based fundraising dashboard that uses predictive analytics and data visualization to make it easier for nonprofits to leverage data.

After years of dealing with the painful, manual approach of managing his donor portfolio, Martel and co-founder Rich Palmer (pictured, left), who is also pursuing his MBA at Babson, launched Gravyty late last year.

UPLEVELING NONPROFIT DONATIONS

Gravyty’s dashboard tracks an individual fundraisers’ progress throughout the year. It pairs its own proprietary data with public data and behavioral analysis (like activity on social platforms) to aggregate and display critical donor information: last meeting date, last donation date, and total contributions to date. Using predictive analytics and the system’s own algorithms, it then highlights who fundraisers should focus their efforts on each day.

A fundraiser’s target donors and their account information gets updated on a daily basis, eliminating the traditional, Excel-based approach of managing donor information. It also helps ensure fundraisers connect with the right donors at the right time, maximizing a potential contribution. All data is displayed visually, making it easier for fundraisers to accurately interpret information.
 


 

“Professional fundraisers usually don’t have data analytics backgrounds,” said Martel. “The challenge for us was to provide these fundraisers with great predictive analytics while also making the software simple, actionable, and usable for folks who don’t really understand analytics.

“Our fundamental premise is that professional fundraisers don’t need more information. They need easier access to the right information,” he added.

TACKLING TURNOVER

One of the biggest pain points Gravyty hopes to alleviate for nonprofits is the high turnover rate among fundraisers. Approximately 20 percent of nonprofit hiring is to fill vacancies due to turnover, and HR in this sector notes that turnover is its biggest challenge, according to one survey.

Ask Martel and Palmer why the turnover rate is so high, and they’ll tell you it all goes back to the data and tools.

“Fundraisers are stuck using technical tools as non-technical people,” Palmer said. “We’re trying to not only give them better access to data, but also make sure it’s the right data and that people aren’t becoming overwhelmed by data.”

SUCCESS AT SXSW

Martel and Palmer are part of Babson’s Butler Venture Accelerator Program. In March, they pitched Gravyty at SXSW as part of an MBA competition. The pair placed second among a group of 16 teams, and said that the event helped them broaden out their story so that it was relevant and relatable to a general audience outside of the non-profit world.

Beyond a more refined pitch, the co-founders said that the real success came from the connections they made at the event.

“We’re really benefiting a lot from the network effect [of SXSW],” said Martel “We’ve been so humbled by the amount of people who have made introductions because they believe they might be able to help their organization fund the great work they’re doing.”

Interested in learning more about Gravyty? Know a nonprofit that might be able to benefit from the dashboard? Visit gravyty.com

 


Kaite Rosa is Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa

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