Featured Startup Pitch: Mobilecause—Empowering social enterprise (nonprofits) through mobile communication, data acquisition and mobile giving

By Editor August 10, 2011

Mobilecause-logoCompany: Mobilecause

Website: www.mobilecause.com

Founders: Douglas Plank and Danny Scalisi

Headquarters: Calabasas, CA

Year Founded: 2009

Twitter: @Mobilecause

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mobilecause

Brief Company Description: “Mobilecause, currently serving more than 900 nonprofits in the U.S., is the leading provider of Mobile Communication, Mobile Data Gathering and Mobile Donations to the nonprofit sector.”


Doug_Plank-MobileCauseBy C. Douglas Plank, founder and CEO

Product Overview

Mobilecause is leading the way in mobile technology designed to serve the nonprofit sector. Empowering charities with mobile tools that enable them to easily communicate, build mobile lists, gather important CRM data, and raise money through various mobile means—from carrier billed to traditional credit card pledge fulfillment. In 2010, the U.S. nonprofit sector raised $211.7 billion in donations from individuals. When you include corporate, public and private foundations, it totals $290.89 billion. During the 2008-09 economic crisis, giving dropped 13 percent according to the Center on Philanthropy. This fact alone has accelerated the need for nonprofits to better utilize traditional and new tools like mobile to address donor attrition including lower response rates for direct mail, email, telemarketing and event participation. Given the explosion of mobile smart phone technology, the fact that consumer donors are accessing their email, looking at the nonprofit’s web page, texting and viewing rich media through their mobile device—it is imperative that nonprofits act quickly to take advantage of this new bustling technology explosion in order to reach current and new supporters via mobile.

Mobilecause provides those mobile solutions via our platform which is a SaaS model designed to enable nonprofits to easily create and manage mobile campaigns—whether communication (text), polling, event planning or mobile fundraising.

We wanted to create an easy to use, three clicks and you’re done management tool that would enable nonprofits to stay ahead of the fast paced changes impacting the way their current and future supporters are being communicated with. Our system allows nonprofits to integrate their various calls to action with all the social media—Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Haiti became the tipping point for our company. During a six week period approximately five million individuals made micro donations of $5 and $10 to support that tragedy and this event woke up the nonprofit market regarding the potential of mobile. Mobilecause was perfectly positioned to respond with our state-of-the-art platform and software model. In 2010 our client base grew 400 percent.

Founders’ Story

The idea of utilizing mobile was on the forefront of my mind since the spring of 2004 when one of the nonprofits I started had an opportunity to be presented during a live concert that was also being taped for TV. It occurred to me that my wife and kids were voting for American Idol and for many there was a cost to vote, so obviously there was a financial transaction occurring. Also you could purchase various services through your phone anyway, so why not a donation. It turns out my business partner and I weren’t the only ones looking into this and late in 2008 we made a decision to purchase one of the early entrants in the mobile giving marketplace. We utilized our acquired carrier and aggregator licenses and developed a new platform that we launched in late summer of 2009 with 12 clients. By December 31 we had 115 clients and realized we were quickly proving our model. Within ten months of our first full year of operation we were cash flow positive. Within 16 months we had more than 600 clients and were developing new mobile applications. In addition, if running a startup isn’t in itself all consuming—my partner and I started a foundation to educate the nonprofit marketplace about all things mobile. We had our first conference in Los Angeles in September 2010 and 150 nonprofits attended. In the spring of 2011 we held our second conference and had attendance of more than 250 with more than 40 leading experts addressing the attendees on all things mobile.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Initially we utilized traditional outbound calling to nonprofit organizations. We then added SEM and SEO marketing and started attending conferences. We hired two individuals who loved the nonprofit market and turned them into our sales people—then Haiti happened and we were flooded with inbound calls. Additionally we hired a PR firm and started positioning ourselves as experts available for interviews which resulted in TV, radio, and print opportunities that further exposed our brand.

How We Differentiate from the Competition

From the beginning we have been committed to focusing on the nonprofit market solely. Unlike our competitors, that is our only focus. We are not distracted by serving commercial sectors.

I personally have more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and have helped raise more than $500 million dollars in individual donations. I have co-founded two nonprofits and built them to $20 million and $30 million respectively. Our team at Mobilecause has a combined 110 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. We know Nonprofits, understand the culture, already had a good reputation in the sector. Our DEV team is the best in the mobile arena. They have worked with dozens of wireless carriers and implemented hundreds of carrier connections even prior to joining Mobilecause. We also enacted a structure that created significant efficiencies resulting in higher reimbursement rates and accurate reporting for our clients. Lastly, we disrupted the marketplace by driving down costs to the nonprofit clients.

Business Model

Mobilecause is a SaaS model. Therefore we receive revenue from monthly fees. Separately we charge transaction fees for mobile donations and offer upgrades of our system that increases the types of mobile fundraising available and volume of SMS broadcasting a nonprofit can initiate. Basically we provide an affordable scaling opportunity for our clients to build larger and larger text broadcasting and donor solicitation lists.

Current Needs

We are looking for sales people with experience in nonprofit software/services sales. We need Rails and Java developers. Always seeking sales leads!!!!

Mobilecause – www.mobilecause.com