Forbes - Solving The Charity Dilemma: Focusing On The 7 Causes Of Poverty
Solving The Charity Dilemma: Focusing On The 7 Causes Of Poverty
Lori Kozlowski Contributor
I write about entrepreneurs, start-ups and the tech scene in L.A.
Little known fact: There are thousands of charities worldwide that no one knows about and therefore no one funds. Southern California-based startup Sevenly wants to change the exposure problem.
Their company started with a simple notion. Serial entrepreneur Dale Partridge was trying to figure out a way to help people. In 2011, he tried to figure out how he could create a social enterprise that made sense.
“We asked ourselves: How do we lead a generation toward generosity?” said Partridge.
He tried to analyze the issues around the globe -- especially focusing on poverty.
The startup determined seven causes of poverty, including: slavery, orphans, disaster, medical, hunger, water, and abuse.
The Sevenly model is simple. Once a week a different charity is featured on their site. The site features custom-made T-shirts, hoodies, and other clothing, with positive messages of the charities on the items.
They chose to start with T-Shirts because the overall purchase rate for T-shirts is so high. (We, Americans, especially buy a ton of them).
“People want to wear something on their chest that they believe in,” said Partridge.
Great design became a central focus for the company. Everything on the shirts is hand-drawn, even fonts and typefaces.
The chosen charities must fit into one of their seven causes, and each organization they work with goes through a vetting process -- including legal agreements that the money goes where the organization says it will go.
“There are so many charities that people don’t know about,” he said. What Sevenly has named the "Charity Dilemma" -- outlines why so many non-profits exist worldwide, but few get funding. (See infographic for their in depth explainer. Click to make the image larger.)
The first charity they chose was International Justice Mission. Since then, some of the charities they have worked with include: Autism Speaks, Somali Mam Foundation, Mercy Ships, Water.org, The Girl Effect, Pencils of Promise, End7, and the Jessie Rees Foundation, amongst many others.
In their first week, they sold over 800 shirts.
Currently, they receive 50 applications each week, from charities that are interested in being featured on the start-up’s site.
Recently, they broke half a million dollars donated to charities in total. They give 30% of their revenue away.
Their consumers are 80% female and 20% male, between the ages of 22-36.
All the numbers are impressive, but possibly the most striking statistic about the startup’s early success is that 26% of their consumer base donated to a charity for the first time, after they heard about a cause they cared about on the Sevenly site.
Partridge is in the process of creating a charity consultancy arm of the business, which will serve to teach non-profits how to speak to a younger generation of donors. They are also exploring retail outlets, by which large retailers would feature Sevenly clothing in sections of their department stores.
Another cool thing: The entire company is under the age of 30.
“The future of business is authenticity, integrity, and honesty,” said Partridge, who sees a sea change that startups are causing for larger businesses.
“By 2014, I see us raising $250,000 a week. We’re raising $50,000 per week now. We’d also like to get into corporate donors -- for instance, one corporation sponsoring one cause for a year.”
In many ways, the new company is spreading a message -- their belief that that doing one small positive thing has exponential potential to affect other lives.
Read more from Forbes about Sevenly: