American internet giant AOL has announced the launch of DeskAid for Australian not-for-profit startups, an initiative looking to support the social enterprise and not-for-profit sectors and also give the startup ecosystem a boost.
The DeskAid initiative will see three entrepreneurs working in early stage not-for-profit startups given the opportunity to work alongside the Australian AOL team for at least six months with no strings attached. They will have access to a community of experienced professionals, office space, and access to mentors.
Managing director of AOL Australia and New Zealand Mitch Waters said, “The AOL community is proud to provide support for talented entrepreneurs to help overcome the challenges inherent in starting a non-profit company.”
The startup support program has been designed to deliver experience to non-for-profit companies in Australia that previously have lacked the means to market and scale.
To be a part of DeskAid startups must apply to AOL before July 15 and the three successful teams will be provided with free services to help them take their ideas, products or services off the ground.
The team at AOL in Sydney will also provide the startups with 25 ad tech specialists who will give one hour a month in ad support, market insights and website troubleshooting.
The launch of DeskAid strategically coincides with AOL’s seventh annual Monster Help Day, a company-wide volunteer day where employees to take time out of the office to help out in their local communities.
In 2015 as part of Monster Help Day AOLs employees were responsible for volunteering over 11,000 hours across 85 different projects worldwide.
This year the company aims to expand its reach with more than 4,000 volunteers in over 40 global cities offering their services for more than 150 volunteer projects.
In Australia the non-for-profits sector is diverse and covers a broad range of services including social, health, education, human and animal rights and environment. In 2010 the Productivity Commission’s research report estimated there were 600,000 non-for-profits working in Australia.
This sector is growing substantially in Australia with the average annual growth of 7.7 percent. $43 billion is contributed to Australia’s GDP by these organisations who also contribute 8 percent of employment to the economy.
To help fund these non-for-profit organisations companies are opening up their desk spaces and startups are looking to offer alternative funding solutions.
In 2013 startup Chuffed.org launched a social enterprise crowdfunding platform to help these companies raise much-needed funding, and earlier this year received its own funding boost, with $1.1 million in a seed funding round led by Blackbird Ventures, Beva Clark and the Telstra Foundation.
Chuffed.org continues to build up a community that works for social causes with a mission to transform the nature of non-for-profit fundraising. The three key areas of focus include fundraiser education, to inform the charity sector on how they can transform fundraising, donor movements, to educate donors about the issues that affect society, and growth, to build a larger audience and support more campaigners around the world.
Non-for-profit startups can apply for DeskAid here.
Image: AOL Sydney Team. Source: Pro Bono Website.