Corporate philanthropy has long been a way for companies to give back to the community while also rewarding their employees. Donating to a good cause on a worker’s behalf is a win/win, as it recognizes exemplary performance in a meaningful way.
There’s something not quite fulfilling about the traditional approach corporate giving, however. If an employee is being rewarded, shouldn’t they be in control of the cause to support?
This issue is the basis for the creation and launch of Minneapois’ DoTopia. The company is a “social venture focused on creating a new model for charitable giving,” says co-founder Mike Dominowski. He and Nate Garvis teamed up with Billy Weisman to launch the startup this past fall, with a goal of creating a more engaging platform that allows employees to actively participate in the philanthropic process.
Head founder Weisman is referred to by his colleagues as a “philanthropeneur” based on the numerous nonprofit social ventures he has spearheaded in the past. Garvis and Dominowski both spent many years working for Target, gaining relevant experience and observing pain points in the way corporate giving is structured.
DoTopia is built around a patent-pending technology – developed in partnership with the employee engagement solution shop Augeo – that provides companies with an accessible, branded platform and a unique form of currency called DoDollars. This currency can be purchased and allocated to individuals, who are able to select how they want to contribute it based on what’s important to them. DoDollars can only be used toward charitable causes, and since DoTopia itself functions as a Minnesota-registered 501(c)(3) organization, companies receive the same tax deductions by contributing to them and letting them re-grant those funds.
“We allow our users to support any 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the United States, so over a million charities,” says Dominowski.
He and his co-founders believe that this approach creates a more rewarding experience and will ultimately result in higher corporate involvement with charities, thus supporting their ambitious mission statement to “make the world a better place by inspiring and engaging givers to give more.”
DoTopia charges companies management fees for each program that varies by the level of customization, complexity and scope. The platform is designed for integration with larger corporations, as such, they recently landed their first Fortune 50 customer.
“The way people are giving is different, it’s changing,” Dominowski argues. “It’s not about planned giving anymore, it’s not about ‘I give to this organization every year in December.’ Giving is year-round, it’s multiple charities. People are doing it now in smaller amounts, and they’re doing it in response to family and friends.”
“Having an account that’s flexible, that means you don’t have to dig for your credit card, you don’t have write a check… we think will really transform the way that individuals give.”