We are living in the Net Generation. Information is at our fingertips, technological innovation is at an all-time high and as a society, we are more connected than ever. By now, most industries have “plugged in” to the digital revolution, leaving behind more traditional methods of communication and business management. Until recently however, the nonprofit sector was not one of them.
StayClassy, a San Diego-based startup, has become a leader in online fundraising for nonprofit organizations by innovating the charitable sector in a way that’s long overdue. The company’s focus is to introduce creative new ways for nonprofit organizations to adopt digital platforms to engage their members, tell their story and manage their fundraising online.
Co-founders Scot Chisholm and Pat Walsh started StayClassy in 2006. Inspired when Chisholm’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, the company began hosting fundraising events to help local nonprofit organizations raise awareness and support for their causes. By mid-2008, StayClassy had helped dozens of San Diego nonprofits raise more than $100,000.
Despite their success, Chisholm and Walsh felt dissatisfied with the fundraising software that was available. The nonprofit industry was demanding better solutions, and they envisioned a platform that made it easy for nonprofits to expand their missions and turn their supporters into fundraisers.
“We realized that the online tools we needed to raise money for our nonprofit partners were the same tools that nonprofits needed to fundraise for their own organizations,” Chisholm tells Giving Back Magazine. “The problem was these tools didn’t exist at the time. Someone needed to step into the market and start offering more innovative solutions to nonprofits. There’s really only been one main software provider for decades, and it was time for a change.”
Today, StayClassy’s fundraising platform supports thousands of nonprofits, powering some of the fastest-growing charitable campaigns such as Invisible Children, Justin Bieber’s BELIEVE, Team Rubicon, Pablove Foundation and Pencils of Promise. StayClassy’s software allows clients to accept online donations, manage donor relationships, publish fundraising events and market themselves online and has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post and Reuters among others. Most recently Bloomberg BusinessWeek featured StayClassy as one of America’s Top 5 Social Entrepreneurs of 2011.
StayClassy – in partnership with Southwest Airlines – hosts the annual CLASSY Awards, the largest industry-led philanthropic awards ceremony in the US. The CLASSY Awards shines a national spotlight on the most outstanding charitable achievements by nonprofits, fundraisers and volunteers worldwide, and attracts top philanthropic leaders.
In 2011, CLASSY Awards nominees influenced the lives of more than 200 million people in 75 countries worldwide – launching child education programs, building renewable homes in third world communities and supporting disabled veterans. CLASSY Awards Finalists have gone on to receive the Presidential Citizen Award and recognition as CNN Heroes.
This year, StayClassy is expecting 3,000 of the brightest minds in the nonprofit industry to attend CLASSY Awards weekend in San Diego, CA on September 21-22, establishing the city as a hub for social service and innovation. Nominations for the 4th Annual CLASSY Awards open on April 1st. To recognize your favorite nonprofit organization, or for more information visit: www.classyawards.org.
Lidia S. Martinez
Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots