Razoo raises $100M for social causes without dancing, PBS, or Milton Berle

Crowdfunding-for-causes platform Razoo hit the $100 million mark today. It raised more than half of this amount in the past nine months, ever since veteran gaming executive Lesley Mansford took over as CEO and applied her unique expertise to fundraising for social good.

Razoo is like the next step in the legacy of the telethon, which uses variety show entertainment to get people to rally around a cause.

Razoo is an online community where nonprofits create pages about their campaigns and individuals give direct donations. Over 14,000 nonprofits around the country have raised money on the site.

This largest driver of this success are Razoo’s Giving Days, which are 24-hour online fundraising campaigns. These campaigns capitalize on gaming principles to motivate people to donate.

Giving Days are regionalized, so multiple organizations in one area participate simultaneously. The events are structured like contests with deadlines, hourly goals, strategies, leaderboards, and prizes to keep people giving money and engaging with their social networks to raise more.

“The excitement around the event is about constructing the gaming element of competition,” said Mansford. “We find that the contest itself is addictive. Nonprofits reach out to their supporters in the communities and get their donor base involved. People check back to see how their causes are doing and rally their social networks. It becomes both meaningful and fun.”

Razoo has executed 15 Giving Days across the U.S. It’s most successful Giving Day occurred in Minnesota, when in one day, 35,000 donors gave over $14 million to 3,000 nonprofits.

The site acts not only as a catalyst for local giving but also as a resource. Even after the Giving Day is over, Razoo offers tools to help organizations manage their community. It has a full infrastructure to conduct payment processing, provides tax deductible receipts, and customer support, and helps causes continue to engage with their supporters.

Razoo takes a 2.9 percent processing fee for all transactions. The company received seed funding from Legatum Group and is originally based in Washington, D.C., with a new headquarters in San Francisco. So far this year, Razoo has conducted 12 Giving Days and has plans for seven more.

Even without Milton Berle and his comedic charm, 24-hour fundraising campaigns are just as effective in 2012 as they were 50 years ago. Fortunately on Razoo, no dancing or walking through the night is required. Just a computer and a credit card.

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