The last month has been an exciting one — we launched the ALMA app at the end of July, and more importantly, we’ve gotten valuable feedback.
If you’re new to ALMA, we make it easy to be a philanthropist. Many people think philanthropy is only for the extremely wealthy, or requires some special inside knowledge or skill.
Philanthropy feels out of the grasps for the everyday giver. We heard that most people feel a bit disappointed with charitable giving today — it’s a hassle to find charities & donate, and the experience after your donate isn’t that great.
We want to make philanthropy simple.
Here are a few of our hypotheses as we designed the product and what we have learned so far.
#1 Strong interest in supporting women’s career journeys
Hypothesis 🤔: start with well-known topics that people identify with already, such as the environment or homelessness.
Learning 👩🏾🏫: we’ve seen a lot of interest in topics that haven’t usually made it on donation top-10 lists
Our first fund, Seeking Shelter, is focused on helping people in San Francisco escape homelessness. Our second fund, Greener San Francisco (coming soon), is working to make San Francisco a more sustainable city now and for future generations.
For our third fund, women@, we want to support a cause receives a lot of attention, (especially recently coming out of #metoo), but most people don’t know ways they can donate or get more involved with nonprofits.
The women@ fund supports women through their career journeys: changing the early signals women receive about what to study, preventing and supporting victims of workplace harassment, advocating for pay justice and developing women in leadership positions. It’s been amazing to see that this is our most requested fund.
Next question we want to answer: how specific can a fund be? Perhaps even funds that are time based (e.g. a response to wildfires or natural disasters).
#2 People want to volunteer
Hypothesis 🤔: our initial customer research told us that the biggest pain points for donors are researching & trusting charities.
Learning 👨🏼🏫: once people find an organization they love, volunteering is the number one next question.
When we spoke to potential donors about their pain points, volunteering didn’t come up very often. People spoke about wanting to know where their money went, or getting more personalized feedback. But volunteering didn’t come out high on the list.
Yet since launch, it’s been our biggest source of traffic and interest, and one of the most requested features. So over the coming months we’re looking more at what we can do here.
Next question: how might we get people into volunteering in a way that is both easy and meaningful for donors, but also useful and impactful for nonprofits?
#3 People want to meet real people
Hypothesis 🤔: One reason people donate is to feel a sense of community and meet people.
Learning 👩🏽🏫: Yea, people want that.
There’s a lot of ‘community’ events and meet-ups — especially in a city like San Francisco — so we were skeptical that anyone would want yet another one.
On the other hand, we want to change the typical Charity gala into something more personal, tangible and easier to access. Getting dressed up to donate $250 in one go in the basement of a Hilton isn’t high on most young people’s list of good nights out.
So we’re testing our first community dinner event in San Francisco in early October. We emailed our early users to ask if there was any interest, and immediately had a handful of enthusiastic replies (and none from our friends and family!).
Next question: how might we create an event that is meaningful for donors, nonprofits, and the community? Can we fold volunteering into an event?
We’ve learned a lot already. But we wouldn’t be here without the help and support of a lot of people. People have gone a long way out of their way to help us out. From recommending nonprofits, to introducing us to people, to sharing their experiences of donating or running a nonprofit.
Thanks to everyone who’s helped us get this far,
Dan & Michelle
P.S. Check out the app and give us feedback!