Shopping for a Cause
After getting laid off by Enron during its financial-document falsification scandal and eventual collapse, Brian Cruver authored a book, Anatomy of Greed, which gives an insider’s view of the debacle. The book became a CBS television movie, The Crooked E. With the money earned from the book and movie deals, Cruver wanted to start a company that would benefit society.
With business partner and former investment banker Brett Andrew, Cruver created Giveline, a consumption-based fundraising tool launched in May that allows nonprofit organizations to set up branded online stores, for free, in which they sell — and earn a percentage of the profits from — more than a million books, movies, music, games, software and gift certificates similar to online retailers like Amazon.com.
Giveline now has more than 35 stores for nonprofits, including the Leap of Faith Foundation, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls and AIDS Foundation Houston.
Visitors arrive to the stores either by clicking on a Giveline link on the nonprofit’s Web site or by going directly through Giveline.com. While the main focus is on popular CDs, DVDs, books and other items, stores include an organization’s logo in the top left of all pages, information about its mission and links to its Web site in a sidebar, and can also list featured products related to the nonprofit’s cause. Giveline organization clients can securely log in to the store to view transactions, make updates and build e-mail lists from store shoppers.
The service also offers a philanthropy program in which for-profit companies can host stores benefiting nonprofits of their choice. The store can be promoted to the company’s employees.
Its ability to be branded and customized makes Giveline more than a fundraising tool. “We are using the Giveline service in two ways,” says Raana Burnazian, director of development, marketing and communications for Spaulding for Children, a Houston-based nonprofit that finds families for abused, abandoned and neglected children. “One is to raise awareness about our organization, and the other is to have some fundraising outside of our strategic planning fundraising, which focuses around family foundations, federal grants, and individual and corporate giving.”
Spaulding features books relating to children on its Giveline storefront.
Giveline products are competitively priced, and listings show the original price of the item, the marked-down price and the percentage discounted. Shoppers can buy the product at the discounted price or pay the regular price and donate the discount amount to the organization. According to Cruver, 60 percent of Giveline customers donate the discount. Because of this and the fact that there is a direct line between the charities and the warehouses where the products are housed with none of the middle men common with affiliate programs and charity malls, Giveline delivers 15 percent to 16 percent profit margins to the organizations.
For more info visit www.giveline.com.