Donate2It, also known as the Lowcountry's local crowd-funding solution, has surpassed $100,000 in funds raised. The platform reached this milestone within a six-month span of active campaigns.
“This is an exciting moment in our story,” said Steve Dudash, founder of Donate2it. “Unlike national platforms, each of these dollars will be used to help organizations continue to do the vital work of investing in our local community. Donate2it exists to be the Lowcountry’s crowdfunding solution and this achievement shows we’re on the right track.”
Donate2It is a technological fundraising platform that is supported by the non-profit side called The Matching Fund. Dudash explained that the Matching Fund received $150,000 from a major donor in 2016 to start the concept. He shared that if a Donate2It campaign is for a 5013c non-profit than they are able to match the funds raised to an agreed upon amount. He anticipates if they complete all their existing and upcoming commitments, the Matching Fund will hold nearly $40,000 in donation funds fairly soon. He says they will likely cap campaign's matching amount until the fund is refilled.
"I’m eager and starting to think about how to approach folks to replenish the Matching Fund. It’s 100% deductible and if it’s 3.5-times those donations it’s a great way, it makes the whole idea about leveraging," Dudash explained.
He encourages anyone looking to be philanthropic and to give to organizations around town to consider the Matching Fund so their impacts can then be tripled.
The Matching Fund's Board of Directors consists of six members. Their mission is to exclusively give back to charitable purposes that they deem appropriate. All campaigns are electronically submitted and vetted by Dudash and the board members.
Dudash explained the idea for the platform stemmed from a few different scenarios. In 2010, he observed a Day of Giving held in Pittsburgh yield tremendous donations for local nonprofits. In the first year $200,000 were matched to $2 million raised, the next year $500,000 was matched to raise $5 million and the next year $500,000 was matched to raise $7.5 million in one day. He said he sat back in awe and decided there had to be a way this type of platform could exist all the time online.
Having a day job as a landscape architect at Thomas and Hutton on Johnnie Dodds in Mount Pleasant, Dudash had to make extra time to work on this crowdfunding concept. He says that he started brainstorming these ideas prior to Day of Giving expanding nationally and before similar platforms like GoFundMe went viral.
"I just couldn't do it fast enough," he laughed. “They always say, if you’re thinking about doing something that six other people are also thinking about doing it so you've got to go."
Dudash said he kind of likes that they haven't blown up really fast because it's given him the opportunity to focus on a strong foundation that he can build upon.
Soon after his observations of Pittsburg's Day of Giving donations, Dudash had another event trigger his motives to get something started in the Lowcountry. The Matching Fund's current Board of Directors' vice chairperson and director, Robert McKenzie was facing a family health crisis. McKenzie's son Rob was diagnosed with cancer. Dudash remembers seeing McKenzie one day and found out that his son had received a bone marrow transplant and his cancer had been cured.
"I was like wow that’s amazing. Claps for Rob. Let’s make a donation. But, back then you couldn’t since this was pre-GoFundMe. So I’m searching around trying to figure out how to make an easy donation to him, in his name or however," Dudash explained. "I just took it on as a challenge to see if I could figure it out."
Dudash said it was like a design problem, and he was determined to create a local crowdfunding platform. He created a website for that single cause, and then the idea snowballed into the Matching Fund's creation. He recalls a few successful campaigns through the Matching Fund, but they needed something different and new. In 2016, they created Donate2It. Over the past six months, they have actively worked on campaigns to reach their milestone funding of $100,000.
Dudash explains it's exceptional that most Donate2It campaigns have an average of 18 days and nearly all of them have had a 3.5-times match. Four recent campaigns have benefitted people and organizations in the East Cooper area.
Donate2It helped raise $3,006 for a Thomas and Hutton employee's daughter with medical bills. The goal for this campaign was $1,000. They tripled the funds with $3,006 raised online. Another project currently being funded is so 4th grade students at James B. Edwards can build a boat for a hands on experience with Lowcountry Maritime Society. So far, more than half of the $5,000 goal has been raised.
Donate2It worked in partnership with the East Cooper Faith Network on a recent campaign that yielded nearly $10,000 to replace a "Hurricane Hugo" roof 30 years later. Another local non-profit successfully utilizing Donate2It is Housing For All - Mount Pleasant, which has raised $20,000 so far with a $10,000 match.
Marty Hutchinson serves as the Chief Technical Officer and Director on the Matching Fund's Board of Directors. Part of his role is to help Dudash manage the technological side of the websites and each campaign. They both receive updates on all contributions and work with closely with Rawle Murdy's Senior Account Executive of Public Relations and Social Media, Daniel Monroe to ensure campaign success.
Monroe explained that his team works to promote the campaigns online, via social media and to news outlets. They are hopeful to start a newsletter outreach database in the coming months to connect with the community. Monroe also works with Hutchinson and Dudash to monitor the time limit on campaigns and where each project sits at any given time.
Monroe shared when he came on board they started to see campaigns pick up momentum at the end of 2018, but 2019 has truly been an exciting year of advancement for the platform.
All contributions are processed via Stripe, so that Donate2It doesn't harbor any data on donors. Dudash explains that Stripe's credit card processing fee is 2.2% of a donation.
Dudash is excited to find more donors to the Matching Fund so they can leverage campaigns on Donate2It. He also encourages all non-profits working to raise funds and awareness to consider using their platform as a solution.
"The potential of the power of leveraging a match on our platform is proven exponentially," Dudash said.
Visit Donate2It's website to see live campaigns accepting contributions. Several campaigns give a breakdown of what dollars will be allotted to and all campaigns show total funds, amount matched by the Matching Fund and how many donors have been contributed.