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Raise Money on Your Miles with fitRaise

by Kristyn Back

Peer-to-peer fundraising has proven to be an increasingly effective way to raise money over the past few years. Just remember the massively successful and unforgettable ALS ice bucket challenge, which raised $220 million ( in case you were wondering). Now take the P2P fundraising model and throw in 160 million Americans walking or running for fitness, and you’ve hit the same pace as Bobby Valentine and Tom Vinkler’s fitRaise platform.

FitRaise is a web platform and mobile app for nonprofit organizations to host virtual events in which supporters earn money for every mile they run, walk, or ride. Hypepotamus recently caught up with CEO & Co-Founder Bobby Valentine to find out how fitRaise encourages individuals to tighten their laces and raise money for nonprofits nationwide.

What’s your pitch?
The fitRaise platform enables charity organizations of any size to host virtual events where their supporters earn donations with every mile they run, walk, or ride their bicycles. The platform can be used for a variety of different events ranging from workplace wellness programs to third-party grassroots events.

Our mission at fitRaise is to have an impact. Every day we wake up with three questions:

  1. How can we impact the individual to a healthier lifestyle, motivate them to be more active, and inspire them to commit to achievable goals?
  2. How can we impact organizations with increased funds to complete their missions of hope and healing?
  3. How can we impact communities through the joint efforts of individuals and organizations?

Every decision we make is grounded in the simple, yet lofty, idea of impact. FitRaise unites fitness and fundraising for lasting impact on individuals, organizations, and communities.

How’d you get the idea for it?
While we were struggling to get traction with our first product, Sociercise, I had been working on the board of a non-profit struggling for revenue. That struggle, combined with the new technology that the team created, led to the lightbulb moment of virtual charity races.

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What problem are you solving?
One of the most difficult activities for any charity organization is fundraising. No matter the cause or the mission, financial resources are necessary to provide the organization with the tools to carry out their purpose. Development Directors at more than 1.5 million charities across the US have traditionally used events as one of their primary sources of revenue. Most events come with an expensive price tag in terms of the human capital of planning and volunteer requirements and the financial capital of up-front costs, deposits, and permits. Events are also restrictive in that they take place at a single location at a specific time which also makes them risky. If an event is outside weather factors can be a determining factor in the success of the event. Other risks include conflicts of time and other popular area events. To eliminate many of these problems fitRaise has created a virtual event-based fundraising platform that is considered to be “peer to peer crowd-funding with a fitness twist.” The platform allows individuals to raise money for causes they care about while they exercise on their own time, at their own location.

Please describe the market/industry impact:

FitRaise is well positioned at the intersection of three major trends:

  1. Non-profit/cause fundraising – people starting to prefer online and crowdfunding types of fundraising
  2. Spread of wearable fitness devices and apps, and an increase in fitness participation
  3. An increasingly better understanding of the benefits of workplace wellness initiatives and their growing popularity

With almost 29,000 running events each year and 160 million Americans walking or running for fitness, there are enormous opportunities to use the millions of miles that people run or walk each year to raise money for worthy causes. This sheer number of activity participants can be paired with the massive popularity of wearable fitness devices. It is expected that by 2018 there will be 112 million wearable devices in daily use.

Funding or bootstrapped:
FitRaise is primarily bootstrapped but did receive seed funding from an Angel List Index Fund sponsored by Rev Tech Labs, a Charlotte, NC-based incubator program the team attended in 2014. We are planning to do a $500k raise in Q2/Q3 of 2016.

The current business model for fitRaise follows what is known, understood, and accepted in the peer to peer and crowd-funding fundraising space. The company earns a percentage, currently 5%, for each donation that is processed through the fitRaise platform. This is the same amount that is earned by similar businesses. The company also charges a subscription fee of $99 to $599 per year (see http://fitraise.com/pricing.php)

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Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
The fundraising market space is controlled by a few larger players including: GoFundMe, Blackbaud, CrowdRise, Razoo, and CharityMiles. Each of these competitors provides fundraising services that allow charities to collect donations. The fitRaise platform stands out from our competitors in that we are the only platform that combines peer to peer fundraising donations earned as a result of fitness activities.

The unique Fun and Fair Pledge Process of fitRaise allows donors to pledge an amount per mile, minimum donation amount, and maximum donation amount. Final donation amounts are determined by how many miles a user logs using the free fitRaise app for iPhone or Android, their linked Fitbit device, or their linked Under Armour app.

How does Atlanta weave into your startup story?
Atlanta is the perfect area for a growing company like fitRaise. There are hundreds of non-profits in the area as well as some of the world’s most prestigious businesses. The active start-up community and growing ecosystem provide valuable resources and opportunities to young companies.

Interested in donating money based on your miles? Check out fitRaise and follow their lead on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you’re a fitness fanatic you can sign up here to begin collecting donations and earning money for PHIT America while you workout.

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