Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: New Startup Gives Straight From the Heart

By Dale Nirvani Pfeifer

Social media has created a bridge where one previously didn’t exist – its interconnectivity means that “haves” and “have nots” now live in world where they are directly connected to one another. As one of the most efficient, effective ways to connect people and ideas across the world, social media presents an unparalleled opportunity to go beyond observation and take direct action. Content that has gone viral in the past few years reveals our hunger for positive news – from Humans of New York posts about a Syrian refugee known as the “Scientist” to the “Batkid” who took over San Francisco – and demonstrates our desire to do good and help others. So, how can we make it as easy as possible for people to do so?

My company, GoodWorld, is a tech startup fueling a generosity movement on social media by making it possible to give instantly to causes with just a hashtag: #donate. Launched in October 2014, our #donate technology blows open social media as a fundraising channel for nonprofits and allows social media users to directly contribute to the causes that they care about the most, turning engagement into impact. As the pioneer of hashtag donations, GoodWorld makes it possible for anyone – individuals, businesses, influencers and more – to add a charitable component to their social network and turn giving into a fun, interactive experience. In 2016, Fast Company recognized GoodWorld as one of the Most Innovative Companies in Social Good; we have also received a TIMMY Award for Best DC Tech Startup and were named part of DC Inno’s 50 on Fire.

GoodWorld and #donate were born of my personal experience seeing stories on Facebook and Twitter that inspired me to take action; however, the long, frustrating process to support these causes took me off of Facebook and onto a long website form. As it turns out, I’m not alone: The average click-through-rate of links posted on Facebook is less than one percent, and donation pages are abandoned at a rate of 50-70 percent. The Ice Bucket Challenge resulted in ten billion video views, reached over 440 million people, and raised $115 million – yet it had a conversion rate of less than two percent.

We developed #donate to fill this gap. Commenting “#donate” on a GoodWorld partner charity’s Facebook page or tweeting “#donate” at the charity’s Twitter handle triggers an instant donation that is shared with a social media user’s entire network. The first time you #donate, you’ll receive an instant reply to complete your donation. After completing your registration, you can #donate to thousands of charities anytime without having to fill out forms or leave social media.

Today, GoodWorld has over 1,500 nonprofit partners using #donate, including the United Service Organizations, Human Rights Campaign, Autism Speaks, GreenPeace, United Way, Save the Children, PETA, National Geographic and UNICEF. We’ve also developed an extension of our technology that allows influencers, businesses, corporations and others to activate #donate on their own social media channels to support the causes they care about. The band American Authors used it to raise funds for Autism Speaks, and the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team fans supported Cure Kids through its #KiwisCureBatten campaign.

We also look forward to some of our upcoming partnerships showing the power of businesses and nonprofits uniting to garner support for causes. King Street Blues, a local bar and restaurant, is using #donate in a campaign to support Rebuilding Alexandria to do its part to ensure Alexandria remains a vibrant community. Yuengling Brewery will partner with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States to benefit veterans, service members and their families through a #LagersforHeroes campaign. Brands Alba Botanica, Avalon Organics, and JĀSÖN Brands have partnered with nonprofit CARE to use #donate in a matching campaign supporting the Qach’Umilal Girls’ Education and Leadership Project, a program empowering and educating indigenous girls and adolescents in western Guatemala.

Additionally, GoodWorld focuses on the “gamification” of philanthropy to show that giving – especially on social media – can be a fun, engaging activity. We’ve hosted a “Dogs vs. Cats” showdown asking fans to cast their votes by supporting charities that service these animals. Right now, our first annual “March Matchup” is underway, with a fierce competition between nonprofits to advance in through a bracket by gaining the most points (each dollar #donated is a point) from their fans.

More than anything, we’re trying to help the way we give to catch up to the way that we live. For a generation known for selfies and oversharing, social media holds the power to transform our vanity and need for status into a generosity-based financial movement. Previously, philanthropy involved checkbooks and a select number of wealthy individuals – today, it is more accessible than ever. Our goal is to continue to make social giving simple and help even more individuals give in a way that is meaningful to them. No matter how much or how little, every dollar makes an impact, especially when it comes straight from the heart.


Dale Nirvani Pfeifer is founder and chief executive officer of GoodWorld.