We've followed Fundrazr since its debut in TechCrunch’s DemoPit in September of 2009. Three and a half years later, Bret Conkin is no less dedicated than he was at Fundrazr’s debut.
And it’s paid off. Fundrazr has just hit the $20 million mark in international donations; a typical day at their offices now sees $50,000 coming in the door. Conkin speaks plainly and excitedly.
“We’re by far Canada’s largest crowdfunding platform," he told Techvibes. "We raise funds in over twenty countries, and we’re in the top ten in the world. And we’re just getting started.”
Fundrazr can perhaps count itself as one of the greatest local startup successes—its Vancouver roots go deep, with Point Grey roots even deeper. Conkin is a two-time UBC alumnus, with a degree in commerce from Sauder and a post-graduate degree in business education. As the licensee for 2010’s TEDxUBC event, he united intellectuals to discuss the future of job training—that is, how to train for jobs that don’t exist yet. His job certainly didn’t exist when he finished his undergraduate in 1990.
Fundrazr’s support of educational causes has been proven around the world; as we reportednearly a year ago, it was the service of choice for the Tiger Woods foundation to raise one hundred thousand in scholarship money for the underserved. In 2013, Fundrazr is hoping that educational fundraising remains one of the site’s fundamental uses.
“If you have need for books, or travel, or tuition, we allow students to put up a page to secure these funds which they can share with their Facebook friends, their friends and family, and we make it easy for them to make it happen," he explains.
Many parents of college-aged kids would argue that their children have no problem asking them for money offline. Thankfully, that greater question of how the service attracts strangers to donate funds to the downtrodden students is one that Conkin—armed by the theories of Malcolm Gladwell—was prepared to answer.
“We find a tipping point, where, let’s say there’s a two thousand dollar goal, once their friends and family have contributed to the 40% level, then we begin to see others from the same town or school community come to the table," Conkin says. "The way the technology is working, every time someone donates, shares, communicates with, it creates Open Graph action on Facebook, bringing it to their News Feed, their ticker, their smartphones and tablets. THAT’s what generates the traffic that inspires people to throw ten bucks their way.”
The range of causes highlighted by Fundrazr speaks to the needs it answers that Kickstarter and Indiegogo won’t. Kickstarter doesn’t allow charity, cause or "fund my life" drives—and even when people do make it through the loopholes, the all-or-nothing funding requirement creates a large risk. Indiegogo allows for campaigns like Fundrazr’s, but takes twice as much off the top as Fundrazr does if the campaign fails. Educational campaigns are just one slice of the pie; many successful campaigns are for health bills, particularly in the United States, and internationally people are willing to donate very generously for the well-being of animals.
But Fundrazr has been proving itself as a strong supporter of education; Herzing has had over 50 student campaigns on the site, and earlier this month Edukick partnered with Fundrazr to support skilled youth soccer players to travel internationally for training and education as they’re groomed for potential professional soccer careers.
There’s over 500 crowdfunding providers in the marketplace now. Fortunately, Fundrazr entered the market early enough to distinguish itself, and continues to do so by providing a fundraising platform to those who need funding the most.
Twenty million dollars has paid for a lot of smiles around the world. Here’s hoping that Fundrazr has new reasons to smile for itself as 2013 goes on.