How BetterNow Went From Being a Platform to Making White Label Solutions
- October 18, 2017
BetterNow became Scandinavia’s largest giving platform in less than two years. Then we learned that we could help charities fundraise more by making white label fundraising solutions.
BetterNow’s vision is to make the world more generous. We started with a mission to bring community fundraising to Europe. In just 3 years we became the leading giving platform in Scandinavia. Before BetterNow Peer-to-Peer fundraising was almost unknown in Scandinavia. Suggesting that you could fundraise for a charity when doing a marathon was considered mad and weird. We introduced it, we made headlines and we got events to embrace fundraising.
But, something was off. It took us way too long to notice all the signs. Donors couldn’t understand why we took a fee. Fundraisers wanted to be thanked by the charity and didn’t care when we thanked them. They associated themselves with the charity, not with us as a platform. It was very expensive for us to drive new traffic without the help of the charities, basically impossible. When we looked at our web traffic, we saw that 80% of all fundraiser sign-ups came from referral traffic from the charities homepages.
It became clear that we were actually just a very noisy middleman. The charities already knew who their target group was and where to look for it – we didn’t. A BetterNow branded platform made sense for introducing the concept, but three years later, the BetterNow brand gave very little value to charities.
Change was needed
We took a radical decision that would impact everything we did. We white labelled our platform and would no longer develop our platform product but focus on making the best white label platform possible. We re-wrote all our code in order to make this change possible. We had to re-think most of our internal processes, design and even our bookkeeping.
We disrupted ourselves – in start-up language this is what you would call a pivot. What made the decision was not one thing, but the cumulative effects of:
- Charities consistently asked for it. Charities know that their storytelling and branding is crucial to their fundraising efforts. They loved us for a smooth well-functioning platform, but they disliked us for not letting them use their biggest asset – their brand.
- Donors and fundraisers didn’t care about us (and why would they?), they obviously care about the charity they support, so we don’t want to stand in the way of creating these important long-term donor relations. Good fundraising is focused on the long-term relations, giving platforms are by nature ill-suited for this.
- We charged the charity, but the cost was experienced by everyone. While only the charity actually paid the % fee on the platform, both the donor, the fundraisers and the charity perceived the cost as their own. This is avoided with white label solutions, where it is clear that it is the charity who pays the cost. We believe this is one reason why donation platforms inherently make no sense.
- Improvements to web technology made it possible for us to offer white label fundraising platforms at the price of a giving platform. This was actually very important, just over those four years a cornucopia of supporting services have sprung up, that made it much cheaper to build customisable white label solutions at a very low cost.
- No one else offers what we offer now. An affordable white label solution, that doesn’t cost more than being on a giving platform. Other white labels are over-priced, over-implemented and over-customised.
It was not a light decision, but it was the right decision. We were able to make this pivot in less than 6 months. The only thing we kept was our database and existing platform, which operated flawlessly even as we made the switch from one system to another just as we saw donation volume exploding under the 2015 refugee crisis.
The results have so far been overwhelming, 71% more contact permissions for charities who switched to a BetterNow branded solution. Fundraisers are more successful and receive 12% more donations and charities have embraced our new solution. It has also opened up opportunities for us that we have never imagined. Letting our own brand stand in the background have left us with much more flexibility on where and how we sell our services.
The basics of BetterNow are still the same. We want to make the world a more generous place – we have just found that we can do this considerably better by not being a giving platform but instead offering white-labelled fundraising solutions.
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