By Louis Medina
Charlie Mulligan is a busy guy.
In early 2018, just seven years after co-founding the online nonprofit giving platform GiveGab, this CEO went on to acquire fellow fundraising leader Kimbia, which had been around longer than GiveGab.
With this addition, Mulligan continued to grow GiveGab, based in Ithaca, New York, into the largest nonprofit giving platform in the world, having processed more than $1.5 billion in donations for more than 35,000 nonprofit organizations across the country.
These days, Mulligan flies frequently across the U.S. to meet customers from GiveGab’s now close to 200 Giving Days that have a presence in all 50 states.
An avid mountain biker, Mulligan takes his trustworthy Trek Stache bike with him wherever he goes — including Kern, which he visited in rain-soaked early March. Despite the rains, he still was able to do some great riding that afforded him views of our surrounding mountains.
But his real reason for stretching his legs this far was to meet with Kern Community Foundation, which has been hosting Give Big Kern, our county’s official online Day of Giving, since 2016 — and with GiveGab’s help since 2017.
Mulligan received a warm Kern welcome, including dinner at Wool Growers Restaurant and the opportunity to speak at a training event to representatives from about 50 of the more than 130 nonprofits that have signed up to participate in Give Big Kern 2019. Mulligan and his colleagues get invited to speak to many Giving Day groups, he said, but having the Mayor present (our very own Honorable—and ubiquitous—Karen Goh of Bakersfield), and Bakersfield City Ballet performing a motivational number to go with this year’s Give Big Kern theme, “Dream B-i-i-i-g!” was definitely a first for him.
We asked the Cornell MBA graduate to share some thoughts about Give Big Kern, Giving Days in general, and GiveGab’s corporate culture.
Q: What do you think about Give Big Kern? What makes it different from GiveGab Giving Days in other communities?
A: I was really excited to see how enthusiastic your participating nonprofits are about Give Big Kern specifically, and also about improving their online fundraising in general. I think what is unique about Bakersfield and Kern is the fact that much of the nonprofit community is relatively new because the city and county have grown so fast over the past few decades. This makes for unique challenges and opportunities and it is really exciting to think about how much more we can all accomplish together.
Q: Putting on Giving Days across the country and throughout the year is a lot of work. What motivates you and your team? What is the most enjoyable part about putting on Giving Days?
A: Giving Days are extremely rewarding and exhilarating. It is incredibly satisfying to help local nonprofits do great things — especially when so many nonprofits we work with are just beginning to tap into the power of online fundraising.
Q: GiveGab’s mission is “More Happy Nonprofits.” Your company refers to customer service as “Customer Love.” Why are you such a stickler for superior customer service?
A: Nothing matters if your customers don’t love you. We believe the entire reason we exist is to help our Giving Day partners, participating nonprofits, and donors be happier and more effective. Customer Love is everything. It determines every single action we take — because at the end of the day, it is the only result that really shows we are accomplishing our mission: More Happy Nonprofits.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about how GiveGab implements customer feedback into product development/product enhancements for your Giving Day platform?
A: We constantly listen to and adjust to our customers and users. Every single Giving Day we do helps us learn a little more and get better, and we’re making slight iterations and improvements throughout the year.
Q: What’s coming for Giving Days in the U.S.? What are some trends you see emerging?
A: People across the country are yearning to be more meaningful donors for nonprofits that are local to them. Giving Days have an enormous capacity to help donors and nonprofits start and build relationships, and I feel like we’re just beginning to tap into the amazing potential of technology to help facilitate these relationships.
Give Big Kern, “One Day to Celebrate the Giving Spirit of Kern County,” happens on the first Tuesday in May, which this year falls on May 7. The website givebigkern.org went live on April 7 and will remain open through May 8. We encourage the entire community to engage with our hard-working nonprofits by giving or volunteering through Give Big Kern. Questions? Visit givebigkern.org > Menu > FAQ or write to Louis@kernfoundation.org.
Louis Medina is the Director of Community Impact for Kern Community Foundation.