Growing up, I was raised by an amazing single mother who supported my brother and I, while working full-time as an Executive Assistant and going to school for her Associates degree at a local community college. She persevered, despite receiving inconsistent child support payments, which meant that money was always tight. And we had to rely on the help of others to get by. Friends and family would help when they could, but it was the good work of nonprofits in our community that kept our family strong.
Nonprofit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA ensured my brother and I had an affordable and quality place to go before and after school, and on summer breaks. We made life-long friends and learned critical life skills that have served us well ever since. My family from time to time would get new bikes, furniture and clothes (including the tie I wore to my first job interview) from nonprofits like Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army. Our first family dog, Brownie, that we received when I was 9, was from our local Animal Rescue League.
As my brother and I grew older, our father struggled with depression and drug addiction, which eventually led to him losing his life at a young age. Giving back and volunteering for the local food pantry, fundraising for United Way, helping at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and many others helped us heal from our loss. Being on the giving side of nonprofits changed my life, and it was the feeling of helping others that drew me in further.
I eventually started serving on local nonprofit boards and learned firsthand the issues that all nonprofits struggle with, which was raising money for the services they provide. I often thought my age may have been a disadvantage. I didn’t have a lot of money to give to the nonprofits I served, but quickly realized my age gave me a different perspective. Being a younger board member I realized that current fundraising methods didn’t speak to my generation (millennials). I was instructed to reach out to my friends and do the ‘hard ask.’ I would start by asking for a high amount and working down to an amount they would agree to write a check for. The first problem was that my generation lives paycheck to paycheck and lives in the subscription based economy where our comfort zone is to pay a small amount for things on a recurring basis. The second issue was that my generation doesn’t write checks, and most don’t even know where their checkbook is located.
My career took me into the payment processing industry where as a Director of a Payment Association I was a part of national committees that oversaw the rules, regulations, and technology of a payment network. But I continued to think about how I could really help nonprofits that had made such a difference in my life. After a few years I missed the nonprofit world and still felt a desire to give back to the organizations that helped my family when I was young. So I left my job and pulled together experts in nonprofits and payment processing, and began to work on the problem of how to get millennials to give more to nonprofits. Out of countless meetings and brainstorming sessions, Softgiving was born. Softgiving was created out of the realization that millennials care just as much and are just as generous as their parents, but existing donation tools do not reflect their lifestyles. Softgiving gives donors, for the first time, the flexibility to give in ways that fit their lifestyles. And for the first time, nonprofits have the ability to offer innovative donation solutions from their website directly to their supporters.