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Austin Startup Launches Product Marketplace and Crowdfunding Platform to Connect Brands, Charities and Consumers

18 Mar

121Giving was built by the two “philanthropeurs” to help charities find products they need to fulfill their missions, match those needs with supplier brands eager to help causes, and get consumers involved to help fund the product-oriented campaigns

 By Robert Hoskins

Austin, Texas – For donors and consumer givers who want to know that the money they donate to charity is making a tangible impact and serving real needs, Austin-based startup 121Giving.com launched a new product marketplace and crowdfunding platform that enables donors to know where their giving is going every time they support a nonprofit through the site.

121Giving’s Online Giving Tools Enables Nonprofits to Crowdfund Needs, Show Consumers Where Their Giving is Going

121Giving.com Shows Consumers Where Their Donations are Going

Developed by Liz Deering and Mark Courtney, experienced entrepreneurs who have funneled their business-technology passions and nonprofit expertise into a business model that makes philanthropy a successful and transparent online venture, 121Giving was built by the two “philanthropeurs” to help charities find products they need to fulfill their missions, match those needs with supplier brands eager to help causes, and get consumers involved to help fund the product-oriented campaigns.

“We launched 121Giving because we wanted to improve the way that nonprofits, consumers and charity-minded companies can all work together for the collective good,” said Deering, co-founder and chief operating officer, who previously worked for technology companies and Goodwill Industries of Austin before launching the company with Courtney. “We wanted to make the entire giving process more efficient and transparent, both to solve the inefficiencies and costs that nonprofits often face with traditional product procurement and to address consumer skepticism about how their donations are being used.”

Many recent studies have shown that consumers want more details from the companies they patronize about their support of nonprofits and causes and the results of their donations and contributions. In fact, 88% of consumers in North America want companies to inform them about their support of social and environmental causes (Cone Communications, 2013), and 69% of Millennials say they are most likely to donate to a nonprofit that inspires them (Cone Inc., AMP Agency).

“Our online marketplace and crowdfunding platform brings everything to the forefront in a way that delivers measurable results for everyone involved,” says Courtney, a social innovator and enterprise technology expert who is responsible for 121Giving’s technology, platform and business strategy. “Nonprofits get the products they need, donors can see the impact of their giving, companies can make a profit while being good corporate citizens, and communities benefit from campaigns that tackle issues, solve problems and change lives all around them.”

Feeding the Need, Matching Brands and Donors
Through 121Giving, nonprofits can publish their specific needs for products by developing crowdfunding campaigns, consumers can donate money to buy those products and track the campaign’s progress and success, while companies can show they care by making their products available at prices that nonprofits can afford. The unique nonprofit-donor-brand ecosystem delivers the visibility nonprofits need, the crowdsourcing power of donors, and a steady supply chain for merchants to sell products at discounts to charities and still make a profit.

For brands interested in selling their products to nonprofits at 121Giving, visit the site’sCorporate Brand Partnerssection.

After a soft launch at SXSW in Austin this week, 121Giving is already hosting four crowdfunding campaigns that support Central Texas nonprofits. Ongoing and future campaigns will cover a range of products that nonprofits urgently need, including office, medical, cleaning and educational supplies; clothing; computers; furniture; food and hygiene products; electronics; home goods, non-perishable goods and more.

The current campaigns include:

  • Front Steps, an agency that provides services to the homeless, raising money for 250 move-in kits for clients moving from the streets to transitional or permanent housing
  • Color Cancer, a nonprofit serving people with cancer, raising money for cases of high-protein Ensure for 125 people with cancer
  • Project Transitions, an agency for people with HIV/AIDS, raising money for medical, cleaning and comfort supplies for the 30-plus individuals cared for yearly at Doug’s House, the only Central Texas hospice facility for those with HIV/AIDS.
  • Rebuilding Together Austin, an agency dedicated to safe, healthy homes for low-income residents, raising money for home repair tools and volunteer supplies to help 30 families.

“The nonprofit market deserves a no-cost solution that enables them to engage online donors easily in helping them purchase the products they need,” said Courtney. “We’re giving nonprofits access to a single online resource where they can source bulk products consistently and affordably, helping them spend less time on product acquisition and more on the missions they serve so passionately.”

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