Rally.org has carved a strategic niche in the world of fundraising for causes through compelling storytelling. Today Rally.org has millions of users globally and they have been emphasizing on one and only one vision-Global Cause Economy. StartupsFM reached out to Nick Warshaw (spokesman for Rally.org) on how Rally.org has grown into a fascinating platform to raise funds for supporting serious causes.
When did you start Rally? What is the vision on which the foundation of Rally.org stands strong?
Our CEO, Tom Serres started Rally.org in 2009 along with co-founders Brian Upton (CTO) and Jonas Lamis (VP of Marketing). The original vision of the company, Piryx, was to be an online fundraising platform for political candidates. The first users included all of the Mayoral candidates in Austin, Texas. Demand quickly emerged from local PTA and Church groups. After Tom raised venture capital in 2011 the company was rebranded as Rally.org with a focus on causes. Now the platform is used by both large and small organizations, such as Bay Area’s Make-a-Wish; or Alvaro Salas who raised Alvaro Salas raised $100,000 to go to Cornell; while Derris raised $400 for his school supplies so he didn’t burden his mother; or Devin’s family who poignantly raised over $4,500 for his brain surgery.
Is Rally.org similar to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo?
Rally.org is a storytelling platform with a payments experience built in. We use data science to perfect the art of fundraising. We’ve invested heavily in our payments infrastructure, building our own proprietary payments system – this allows us to be cheaper than anyone else in the space. We also do not have a vetting process the way others do – anyone can use the platform. Finally, causes or as we call them rallies, keep all of the money that they raise – they don’t have to raise a threshold amount of money to keep funds.
What has been the most intriguing story on Rally.org?
We have so many fascinating rallies on the platform. One particularly interesting one recently was the Buzkashi boys. The independent short film, “Buzkashi Boys” was nominated for an Oscar. The 29-minute short was shot entirely in Afghanistan and stars a 14-year old boy from Kabul, Fawad Mohammi.
The filmmakers used Rally.org to raise funds to get the boys to the Oscars from Kabul. Their story and journey to Hollywood have inspired the world. To date, 238 donors from 13 countries donated to the boys journey online, raising nearly $12,000. Rally.org partnered with Turkish Airways to get the boys free plane tickets to Los Angeles. The excess funds will be sued for a college fund for the Afghans.
Is Rally.org limited to only non-profit organizations?
Rally.org is open to anyone. We have individuals raising money for their startups or to rebuild a burned down barn. We already have a number of causes, helping the homeless. Some are non-profit organizations raising funds to support the homeless, others are individuals or family members rallying in support of the person. Rally also leveraged our investor network to help Glide, a San Francisco based non-profit who helps the San Francisco community.
How are you planning to use the money you raised?
We raised an historic round last May – the largest round ever funded online. We are using the funds for international expansion and to hire more engineers. We hope to expand our vision of empowering the cause economy globally.