Building Communities Free Enterprise Staff  | December 26, 2016

4 Companies Helping You Help Others

Chances are you’ve donated money before to a friend or family member who’s trying to raise money for a cause. But have you ever thought about what makes that transaction possible?

There is, it turns out, an entire industry that has cropped up over the past few years, making charitable giving as simple as buying something from Amazon. Since December is synonymous with the holiday season, we thought it fitting to profile a handful of the companies that enable individuals and nonprofits to raise money.

‘Tis the season to give thanks, as the saying goes, so thanks we shall give.


Among the earliest entrants into the sector, FirstGiving partners with both nonprofits and individuals seeking to raise money for any manner of causes. The company, which is headquartered in Boston and was acquired by payment processing firm FrontStream, lets users build donor pages that are easily shareable across social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. The donor pages are also an effective platform that organizations and individuals can use to tell their personal stories and urge people to donate. FirstGiving turns a profit by charging a small fee for certain transactions — though individual pages remain free — and it is a leader in data security, employing a number of industry best practices to keep credit card data safe from hackers. FirstGiving touts a figure of $1 billion-plus raised online to date.


The overall winner of the 2014 Challenge Cup tournament, HandUp is a web-based service that lets users donate directly to homeless people or neighbors. To accomplish that, HandUp partners with organizations like Project Homeless Connect, which helps sign up members and provide additional assistance and services that they can access along with the money they’ve received through the for-profit company’s user community. In its short existence, HandUp users have raised more than $100,000-plus for its members.


Booster works a little differently from the other companies featured on our list. Users can raise funds for their causes through the platform in a traditional way, but they also have the ability to design and create customized merchandise and apparel through its online design lab. Taking such an approach, Booster says, allows users to more effectively raise money from friends, family, and other connections while simultaneously increasing awareness. Booster makes money by charging a small fee for each item sold through its e-commerce and apparel site, and it also levies a small processing fee on total donations collected.


GiveForward is like FirstGiving and Booster in that, at its core, it is a simple platform for raising money. Yet it stands out from its competitors because it specializes in campaigns that “empower compassion.” While the site can be used to fundraise for any number of causes, it targets users looking to raise money specifically to help pay for medical expenses.

GiveForward also provides all of its account holders with a personal coach who offers fundraising advice and can answer questions a user may have about the service and company policies. Though GiveForward takes a 7.9% cut of total campaign donations and charges a flat $0.50 fee per donation, donors have the option to cover these expenditures — and 95% do, according to the company. To date, GiveForward users have raised $138,656,000.