Funderful raises €150,000 to kickstart their US expansion
Funderful, the web-based alumni fundraising management platform developed in Latvia, successfully raised €150,000 from Lithuania’s StartupHighway, the leading investor in this round of funding, and two angel investors. According to the founder of Funderful Raimonds Kulbergs, the funds will help to accelerate the pace of product development and help establish a foothold in the US market.
R. Kulbergs started the company in 2014 to provide universities and colleges with a software solution to manage alumni fundraising. Funderful is already successfully used by Oxford, Cambridge university colleges, London Business School and other schools around the world.
Following Funderful’s track record of successful charitable fundraising campaigns, first round investments were made by StartupHighway, Vilnius-based startup acceleration fund, and two angel investors, Janis Krums, Latvian-American startup entrepreneur, who has already invested in more than ten Silicon Valley startups, and Janis Spogis, Airdog co-founder and ex Chief Commercial Officer of Tele2 Latvia.
According to StartupHighway Chief Portfolio Manager Martynas Matekonis, Funderful offers a unique tool for alumni fundraising campaigns. “Alumni fundraising is often done with increasingly outdated and ineffective approaches such as direct mail and telethons. Funderful fills in the niche of structuring and organizing such campaigns online in an easy, user-friendly and interactive way. This is exactly the tool that academic institutions have been missing in doing effective and sound donation campaigns”, he explains.
“From the investor’s’ point of view, our attention was caught by the company’s track record of significant results in a short period of time. However, as alumni giving is not widespread in our region, we decided to validate the idea in the United States with the help of our advisors”, – Martynas adds. “Fortunately, validation was successful and the team kept their passion high, so the decision to invest and provide advisory support was made. Also, the addition of two angel investors strengthened our belief in the startup.”
Funderful provides an innovative millennial-friendly platform to help universities manage and grow their annual giving programs. Upon donating online, contributions are displayed in a series of real-time infographics, allowing everyone to instantly compare results. In addition, the platform enables fundraising organisations to structure, follow, track and analyze the donations campaigns.
According to Raimonds Kulbergs, the main goal of Funderful is to motivate graduates to become regular donors to their schools. “While universities fundraise $40bn every year, many are struggling to increase or even maintain their donor base. The reason is that they do not have available the tools, resources or capacity for it. However, as traditional approaches become less and less effective, the demand for a digital annual giving solution, such as Funderful, is high and growing fast”, R. Kulbergs explains.
“The key to engaging alumni as donors is to appeal to a number of emotional triggers: peer pressure, competition, nostalgia, and pride. We integrate all of these elements into Funderful, and the results speak for themselves”, continues R. Kulbergs.
Oxford, Cambridge colleges, London Business School, American universities, and other schools around the world already use Funderful software. Funderful has already helped to raise €2.6m for it’s clients. A campaign raises €230.000 on average on top of schools’ existing activities and increases the number of donors by 104%.
The web-based donations platform comes as an alternative to fundraising calls, also known as phonathons, which used to be a key component of schools’ annual giving programmes since 1970s. Due to declining contact rates of fundraising calls, several universities in the United States, including Stanford University, announced that they have made decisions to end phonathons. As mobile technology and social media change the way alumni communicate with their alma maters, the share of online donations grows annually.