Collaborative giving is a fast-growing trend that is democratizing and diversifying philanthropy through the power of Giving Circles, Community Funds, Collaborative Funds, and more. Today, we’re excited to announce our seed round at Grapevine, the first crowdgranting platform dedicated to supporting and growing the collaborative giving movement.
We’ve teamed up with world-class venture capital firms and a roster of industry experts and operators to bring the collaborative giving movement online — a crucial step in dramatically scaling its reach and impact — to enable anyone to easily find and join a Giving Circle, or start their own. Our $1.85M seed round ($1.67m in equity financing with an additional $180,000 in grants) was led by PJC with new participating investors Ulu Ventures, WTI, Social Good Fund, and Focus Impact Partners. They’re joining existing investors in this round such as Notation, Ground Squirrel Ventures, and Overton Venture Capital.
Also participating are an amazing group of nonprofit technology and social impact industry experts who know this opportunity first-hand including Alex Wilson & Pat Duffy, (Co-Founders at The Giving Block) and Geng Wang, (CEO and Cofounder, Civic Champs) who have joined existing pre-seed angel investors and operators such as David Heath (Founder of Bombas); Lynn Taliento (Senior Advisor and Founder of Social Impact Practice, McKinsey & Company); Alex Chung, (founder and CEO of GIPHY); Claire Diaz-Ortiz (Founder of Twitter Social Impact Team); Jay B. Love (Co-Founder and Former CEO of Bloomerang and Active Angel Investor); Steve Schlafman, (Founder of Schlaf & Co.); Paul Sawaya (Co-Founder of Elsewhere and Human Interest); and Gaingels.
We’re grateful for the support of these investors, advisors and friends on our mission to grow the greater good by connecting people and cultivating community. Grapevine is bringing the collaborative giving movement online, enabling it to dramatically scale its reach and impact to further diversify and democratize philanthropy.
The unsolved problem in philanthropy — declining giving from everyday people
In 2022, the percentage of U.S. households that gave to charity dipped below 50% for the first time ever. This marks a significant new milestone in a long decline of individual giving in the U.S. which slid from more than two thirds of households giving in the early 2000’s. This has many wondering if we’re in a “Generosity Crisis”. At this rate, we could have no donors left in fewer than 50 years to support the nonprofit sector that employs approximately 10% of our workforce, creates critical change, and provides access to opportunities for millions of Americans.
But amidst this troubling trend is a bright spot - collective giving is growing! You just need to look at the change in the number of Giving Circles in the Global Giving Circle Directory over the past three years - from just over 2,000 groups to over 4,000 groups today. This model - where everyday people come together to connect, pool their donations and decide collectively what nonprofits to support on a recurring basis - is engaging tens of thousands of everyday givers across the country. By our estimate, more than 30,000 new members have joined Giving Circles on Grapevine in the last 18 months alone.
However, despite this compelling model of philanthropy for everyday people that started in the U.S. in the 1980’s and has become a growing movement - a big piece has been missing. The philanthropy industry hasn’t focused enough on building critical infrastructure and tooling that Giving Circles and other collaborative giving groups like Community Funds, Collaborative Funds, Donor Collaboratives and more need to attract new members, streamline processes, and be successful in today’s digital world. While crowdfunding has brought offline social giving campaigns such as charity runs and galas online, the collaborative giving model has been waiting for a similar category-defining technology solution.
Bringing the movement online is the first key step
Grapevine is bringing the collective giving movement online. As the first crowdgranting platform, Grapevine is creating a whole new category. Unlike crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe and others that support one-time campaigns for a specific cause, Grapevine empowers everyday people to come together to connect, pool their donations and decide collectively what nonprofits to support on a recurring basis. This means more people making a difference and more money going to organizations that cover a broad range of sizes, locations, and missions.
Grapevine makes it easy for anyone to find and join one of hundreds of Giving Circles, or start their own. Grapevine’s free, all-in-one solution includes:
- Modern donation processing. A modern, digital donation experience gives donors the easy checkout they’ve come to expect, along with recurring donation subscriptions, tax-deductible donation receipts, and annual consolidated receipts for easy tax reporting.
- A community space that facilitates connection and collaboration. Community pages for each group enable members to create profiles, post on the community wall, message others directly, and be paired for 1:1 coffee chats. Nonprofit nomination and voting tools facilitate group sharing and decision-making for collaborative grantmaking.
- Transparent granting and impact reporting. Donations are transparently tracked so all members can see how much money has been raised and which nonprofits have been supported by the group.
- Invitation and social sharing features. Tools to easily invite new members and share out group and individual milestones and events.
Whether you’re a small group of friends, a block of close-knit neighbors, or a team of professionals rallying around a cause, Grapevine is your philanthropic home for group giving.
A great community product starts with a great community
Grapevine is currently supporting over 800 Giving Circles in every state across the country, with 55,000+ total members, resulting in $25M in donations
We are fortunate to have a diverse team of designers, community builders, engineers, nonprofit and crowdfunding professionals, and more behind the development of Grapevine. We are just as fortunate to have connected with the collective giving movement in our earliest days of development and to have created Grapevine through the direct recommendations and feedback of active Giving Circes. This collaboration has ultimately led to Grapevine, a more purposeful, community-based giving experience, that goes beyond the transactional crowdfunding campaign.
Capital to accelerate growth
This round of funding will allow us to drive the expansion and evolution of Grapevine. We will use the funds to focus on product development, expansion of our customer base and partnerships, and to bring on new team members. Grapevine today works with many philanthropy and distribution partners, including the likes of AARP on a Create The Good Giving Circle Guide, Idealist, Philanthropy Together, Giving Compass, Charity Navigator, and Global Impact. And has engaged several companies through its new Grapevine for Companies program, including GIPHY and Evertrue.
Grapevine is building the global social giving platform of the future - where everyone is in a Giving Circle, if not two or three – making it easier for people to connect around the things they care about while growing the greater good, together.
Emily, Founder & CEO