Profit-for-purpose startup Folo creates browser extension helping online shoppers easily donate to charity

- July 25, 2016 3 MIN READ

The Pure Foundation recently launched a new profit-for-purpose startup called Folo to generate free donations to charity when users shop online. The platform will be donating 100 percent of its own profits to a range of not-for-profit (NFP) local and global organisations.

Australians spent $19.3 billion online last year, and according to NAB Retail Sales Index those figures are expected to double in the next three years; the amount Australian consumers spend online equates to over 12 percent of all consumer expenditure.

Jaimee Abict, member of the Folo founding team, said the new platform aims to convert Australia’s online shopping into real positive change.

“Just 500 people using Folo will generate $15,000-30,000 per annum in donations. A million users could generate 30 to 60 million dollars,” she said.

Folo works as a browser extension downloaded onto a user’s toolbar. When shopping online with Folo, participating retailers are highlighted in both a Google search and in direct online stores. Each time a consumer visits a retailer and purchases an item online Folo gives a percentage of the money spent to a charity of choice.

“Folo will revolutionise the charity sector. It will provide a steady stream of free revenue to NFPs simply from users shopping online,” said Abict. “Our goal is to inspire and attract millions of users globally within three years. Folo provides the vehicle and scale to make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Currently Folo has hundreds of NFPs listed including World Vision, Oxfam, Cancer Council, and The Fred Hollows Foundation. The extensive range of NFPs allow users to donate money to their either local grassroots organisations or large global causes.

“Folo offers scalable technology that provides a long term sustainable funding source for NFPs. Our goal is to take the pressure off NFPs needing to constantly fundraise, allowing them to focus on their true purpose,” said Nina Skryzinski, chair of The Pure Foundation’s advisory board.

The Folo donation experience is completely seamless and blends completely into the user’s existing behaviour. No added expenses are generated, and instead Folo gives a percentage of the user’s total spend money to their charity of choice.

“The foundation saw the potential for this technology to be employed in a social enterprise to generate free donations for causes, and then have users democratically support an organisation they cared about,” said Abict.

“It’s hard to overstate the potential Folo has to assist charities everywhere; it’s solely about asking people for their participation rather than their dollars, so that when users shop online retailers give them free money back to give away to charity.”

Folo has partnered with more than 700 retail brands including some large players in the space like Expedia, The Iconic, Nike, and Dan Murphy’s. The startup believes retail brands will benefit from the Folo platform through increased levels of online visibility and the enhancement of their social responsibility.

Abict said the idea of launching Folo stemmed from a review of how Australia’s number one cash back website, PricePal, operated. The Pure Foundation, along with a group of impact investors, acquired PricePal in January this year to expand the company’s social impact.

“The model of re-diverting funds from a successful business to charity is a much more sustainable funding source for these organisations than just making one-off grants and donations, which often create challenges for charities. Folo, however, was a much more scalable business model again, as it can be built into thousands of online purchases from anyone shopping online,” said Abict.

Thanks to tech startups, the fundraising space in Australia is changing. New ways of fundraising for NFPs are being created through unique funding models generated by startups like Good Mob, Good Thnx and Chuffed. Startups like these give corporates greater opportunities to play a bigger role in the chariy and the social enterprise sector.

Folo has already laid out the groundwork for a launch in the US later this year and has also secured partnerships with some of the largest NFP organisations in the world. The new partnerships and the date of international launch will be announced in the following months.

Image: Jaimee Abict and Nina Skryzinski. Source: Supplied.