A mobile commerce app that lets consumers combine their everyday shopping with charitable giving.

What's the big idea?

Benefit is a mobile commerce platform that lets consumers combine their everyday shopping with charitable giving. Every online and in-store purchase initiated from the Benefit app results in a small donation to a school or charity selected by the end user.  At launch, over 100 national retailers and merchants, including Best Buy, Gap and Target will participate; some retail donations exceeding 5% of the total transaction amount.

Describe the nearest player in your field.

A number of internet companies offer fundraising solutions tied to online shopping. However, none of the current players offer an in-store point of sale mobile solution. Currently there is a wide gap between traditional fundraising methods and mobile technology. We intend to bring them together.

How are you different from that player?

The Benefit app targets offline, in-store shopping where most retail sales occur. We also believe our mobile-first approach is designed to appeal to today’s savvy consumers who increasingly utilize their smartphones for help when making offline shopping decisions.

How does this idea scale into a big business?

Once we prove this tool as an effective fundraiser, schools and non-profits will promote wide-spread adoption. For the public the app will be available in the iTunes/Android store. We make a very small percentage off of each transaction, so the more transactions the better our numbers.

Why are you the one to run with this idea?

As hopeless do-gooders, the founders of Benefit hope to make the world a better place by giving important causes and nonprofits a new, powerful channel for fundraising. We’ve been in the web/mobile business for as long as it’s existed and see this as a great opportunity to leverage that knowledge.

What is a $5,000 experiment you can do to move your idea forward?

The funds will cover many of the fixed set up costs required to integrate with back-end payment and other processors.  The $5k experience will result in a fully functional iPhone app and trials with several of our nonprofit partners.

There have been 12 replies to this page

  1. Erik Loehfelm

    This is a great idea Derik! I would absolutely use this.

  2. Derik Lolli


    Thank Erik. Our hope is that most parents who are used to typical fundraisers will welcome the idea of never having to buy anything outside of their typical shopping experience, and be encouraged to try a new method of transaction knowing that it benefits their kids directly.

  3. Matt Kortering

    i just noticed that there is another mobile fundraising tool idea submitted to startgarden. How is yours different?

  4. Derik Lolli


    I assume you are asking about Bogo, right?
    It looks like both of us recognize the current inefficiencies and general dread that traditional fundraisers bring. Mobile technology provides a great opportunity to disrupt the current methods. I have yet to meet Toby, but my guess is we could probably work together to compliment each others offering.

    Primary differences:
    From day one Benefit will have over 100 national retailers. We went after the national retailers because we knew the immediate impact it would have to the entire country rather than small local areas. We recognized the amount of legwork required to get a large enough directory of small businesses nationwide and as a small outfit thought that would take us considerable time. Our hope is that as the tool gains traction we will enable small businesses to come to us through our public site.

    We also use a basic giftcard model where the user can add dollars to a retailer card at any time before or during point of sale. The barcodes are already integrated with the retailers point of sale system. It really is frictionless fundraising. You go about your typical shopping and dollars go directly to the school or cause of your choice.

    Thanks again Matt.

  5. Eric McKee

    Derik, love the concept. So you talked to 100 retails and their already onboard? Nice work.

  6. Derik Lolli


    Eric, we have agreements ready to go with companies like Cashstar and Giftango that bring the retailers to us. They provide the api’s necessary to host all the retailer barcodes within the app. No actual one to one agreements with retailers are necessary. Similar to an app like Gyft but with a fundraising angle. Thanks for the love.

  7. Phil Threadgould

    Endorsed.  I like your approach.  Many times I feel giving to the Christmas bell ringer or buying a “March of Dimes” sticker at McDonald’s is great.  But when all the local kids come around (mine included) asking me to buy overpriced items to help their school or organization I always feel like I’m getting ripped off.  Is this a for profit venture or are you also a non-profit?  Either way, how will you cover your operating expenses?

  8. Derik Lolli


    Thanks Phil, We appreciate your endorsement. We are a for profit venture however initially our margins would more than likely be 1% or less on transactions.  The goal is widespread adoption. If the tool proves to be an effective fundraising channel and we have case studies to prove it, the schools and non-profits will promote this endeavor. While 1% on a millions of transactions is appealing, the real strategy to help us maximize both donation and profit is to encourage users to use ACH transaction rather than credit card. While credit cards cost 3% per transaction, ACH is around 20 cents. This might not be comfortable for the average user but for those familiar with giftcard fundraising they are more than likely already doing this.  We also have a way of throttling retailers based on your method of transactions. We want to ensure that the schools and non-profits are the biggest winners here. Thanks again.

  9. Tim R Todish

    Interesting concept, Derik. Good luck!

  10. Jake Hall

    I could see a lot of possibilities with this.  Endorsed.

  11. Phil Threadgould

    Derik.  Excellent approach.  It is really like taking money from the credit card companies and giving it to non-profits.  The retailer and consumer still win.

  12. JD Collins

    Derik! Great work and congrats on getting funded.

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This idea was funded by Start Garden staff endorsement on December 13, 2012. Since then...

  • 5K
  • 50K
  • 75K