A Conversation With John Murcott, CEO And Co-Founder Of Karma411
John Murcott is the CEO and co-founder of Karma411. In his 15 years of technology startup experience with Products, Strategy, and Marketing, John has started four companies. His entrepreneurial track record demonstrates how success comes to those who follow their passion. John and his business partner, Mark Fasciano, sold their first startup, FatWire Software, in 2007 to a private equity group who later sold it to Oracle. After this success, John and Mark became very active in the local nonprofit world and saw a need that they could fill. Combining their passion and expertise, they took the entrepreneurial plunge once again and Karma411 was born in 2008.
| Posted in Fundraising on Apr 27, 2012
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Karma411 specializes in providing nonprofits with social fundraising solutions that put people and their stories at the heart of organizations’ campaigns, all with the organization’s branding. With a variety of services such as website design, mobile app development and customized fundraising campaigns, Karma411 has helped nonprofits achieve their fundraising goals and further their missions.
5O1Connect talked with John Murcott, CEO of Karma411 about online fundraising, the Karma411 approach, their successes to date and the opportunities ahead.
Your background is in the technology arena. What inspired you to create fundraising solutions for causes?
After we sold FatWire Software, we wanted to focus on two main goals: 1. apply our technical expertise that we had acquired from the corporate world to causes and 2. switch from the publishing paradigm of traditional content management we had known so well and focus on user generated content. Our feeling was that nonprofits could harness the power of large numbers of supporters online through crowdfunding tools that eventually made their way into our software.
The social networking explosion must have made it challenging to keep your suite of fundraising tools current. How did you keep up with the boom and what are you doing to stay current?
Social networking is at the heart of our product, so we were ahead of the curve there. There are always going to be new functionalities and social sites to monitor and incorporate into new product offerings, and we make sure to be a few steps ahead. The most important thing we can do is work directly with our nonprofit clients on their projects, see how the product is used first hand, and ask clients and their supporters what else we could do to server them better. One example would be mobile app development.
What would you say are the key challenges facing nonprofit organizations launching online fundraising campaigns today?
For one I would say working with a good product. Having a good product to work with that takes care of the front and back-end can make life much easier for administrators. It must be compelling and user friendly for donors, but also allow reporting and online donations for records and back-end operations. The process might seem daunting for those who have not yet tried online fundraising, but products like ours make this simple. Another would be a compelling story to tell, this is as important online as it is offline. Your existing donor base is there to get your social campaign started, and it helps to have a powerful social media presence with a story for your mission that anyone can pick up in a few clicks. This propels the social campaigns.
What are Karma411’s solutions to these challenges and how do they set you apart from your online fundraising competitors?
As mentioned previously, we strive to make sure our product is user friendly on the front and back-end, and engages supporters. We strongly recommend that an organization puts its powerful message, cause up front and center in a way that sparks action and gains advocates. It’s how our campaigns are designed with rich imagery and opportunity for much personalization. This carries through from a nonprofit’s microsite to supporter’s personal pages created for the cause. Supporters can share stories, photos and their success just like the organization and incorporating the nonprofits’ branding.
What sets you apart from other professional fundraisers, in general? What are some of the benefits of online fundraising over traditional fundraising methods?
Online fundraising, which allows nonprofits to accept credit card donations online, has been around a while. The major advantages over traditional fundraising are the ease of use and the immediacy of the call to action. To receive a postcard to attend an event which is a more classic fundraising task, usually means that the difference from the time of the ask and the actual donation is long and cumbersome. If a donor receives an email with a link to a “donate now” page, this ask and response is very condensed. We take this online fundraising principle and make it personal. The supporter has their own page, so when friends and colleagues come to the page, they see a familiar face and learn about the cause in the words of their friend. This increases the likelihood that a donation will be made. The page is also filled with options for making the request viral, by sharing on social networking sites and sending out emails to your contacts. This takes the online donation page and puts it on steroids.
What are some of the major accomplishments of Karma411 to date?
We developed a mobile app Light It Up Blue for Autism Speaks. This was their third year with the campaign but our first time developing the app for them. They surpassed prior years’ in donations and had over 28,000 people participate. We allowed supporters across the globe to snap a photo from their smartphone and immediately upload it to the campaign site in the image gallery. The photos are blue themed to support the cause. Sharing pictures can be the best kind of user generated content to get people involved and demonstrates the power of social media.
Another campaign, MLB’s All-Star Game Charity 5k Fun and Run, is one we are excited to see surpass their goal. The race is in July, so it’s still going and has over $46,000 in donations thus far. We developed a customized site for them that really honed on some aspects of the sport to appeal to donors. They can earn badges for donations, choose a team and be featured on the home page.
Internally, we are very excited about our growing team which is reflective of our growing client base, new strides with product development and our new website that launched this week.
Where do you envision online fundraising in the future? Future trends, growth prospects, etc.? Where do you see Karma411 in the future?
I see mobile continuing to be a huge factor. People are always looking for convenience, and when you make donating easy and accessible in all formats, you have more success. Events have been around and online is growing, so it is natural progression for mobile functions to be next. Karma411 is on top of these trends and we will continue to develop products that will help nonprofits reach their donors wherever they may be, and however they may wish to donate. Our goal is to make this interaction easy and engaging for donors on the front end, and easy and effective for nonprofits on the back end. We are always looking for ways to improve this and have a new version of our software coming out early this summer.
For more Information on Karma411 visit Karma411.com or contact Brian De Montreux at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonprofit Talk John Murcott Karma411 Nonprofits Fundraising Social Fundraising Solutions Online Fundraising Crowdfunding
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