Blog 19: Cauze
Offering a platform for social and community giving
Company: Cauze has built an app designed to allow individuals to create their own personal foundations, enabling them to give when inspired, to any nonprofit, in any amount, from a mobile app on their phones. Cauze then leverages social dynamics to connect people around giving back. People can see when others give (never how much), and then "join" them by adding $1 or more, instantly. This creates ripples of good that amplify as more people join. Anyone in the platform can match others, and on average, for every dollar donated, $2.50 goes to a nonprofit.
HQ Location & Year Founded: Boise, Idaho, 2017
Founder: Jason Hausske, founder and CEO, has led sales and business development at numerous venture-backed technology companies. He has long been interested in social impact and philanthropy, which led him to founding Cauze. Jason holds a degree in economics from the University of Washington.
Funds Raised and VC Investors: $2 million from Acadian Ventures, Salmon Innovation Fund, ImpactAssets
Where did the idea for Cauze originate?
The idea came initially out of personal need. I felt like I personally should be giving more. I was inspired by charity websites and match giving through retailers like Amazon and Whole Foods. I have wondered though how I could inspire a new wave of philanthropy where giving becomes a core part of one’s identity.
What is the key problem that Cauze intends to solve?
There are multiple problems that we try to solve, but the primary one for individuals is “latent good,” meaning the gap between charitable intent and action. $300 billion is donated each year in the US. I believe people would give more if itfed their soul and connected us. Our core mission is to create a new world where people are empowered to give at those moments.
We aim to attract and engage next gen donors. We hear from many employers who say that they want to better understand how to engage employees through purpose. The old rewards for employees don’t seem to resonate. Brands want more meaningful engagement as well and seek a mechanism to engage. We follow groups that curate charities such as the Obama Foundation, where someone can come with one donation that will then get split among many recipients. Our platform curates charities and allows people to give instantly and amplify any cause across multiple recipients.
How are you most differentiated as a service?
For the individual giver, the key is utility. Every donor gets the utility of a donor advised fund combined with social connection and expression about the giver. Our giving platform also does not charge our individual donors. We monetize as a SaaS business offering to employers and brands that are looking for engaging, impactful solutions through offering matching funds.
What are the company’s key accomplishments to date?
Historically donor-advised funds have been offered to wealthy people by firms like Fidelity and Schwab. We want to democratize this for everyone. Our platform has processed over $3 million in donations and has been used by 30,000 individuals thus far. Over 10,000 people have created accounts with us. From an impact perspective, every $1 donated has resulted in a 250% increase in the amount that goes to charity. In Cauze, we enable matching and the ability to join with others, a system where people increase their contributions organically. It is more consistent with how people interact in life. We believe that every donation should be social.
What lies ahead in the product plans for Cauze?
We have a multi-sided platform and have been pulled in multiple directions. Our portal is being built for employers and non-profits, but want to get back to the heart of the app, which is the giver. We will offer improved onboarding, clarity, rewards, and premium paid accounts.
What are the long-term strategic growth objectives?
It is inevitable that every person in the US will have a personal giving account, just like we have a checking and savings account. We will become a social network, not just a bank that provides giving accounts as a tool. The idea is that we’re all connected and even kids will start with an account from a young age.
From a young age in my Jewish cultural tradition, we were brought up with the idea of tzedakah, which is essentially charity as a moral obligation and an act of social justice. Nearly everyone has causes that they believe in and would like to share and spread with others. Yet the idea of giving as a social or community activity has really not been enabled across philanthropy in a highly organized and accessible way. Cauze is leading the charge to change this by offering employees and employers to give and to share with many different worthy non-profit organizations. By democratizing and empowering the act of giving, and by spreading this notion across a community of friends and colleagues, society will be taking a significant step toward the transfer of wealth to those most in need.