Every day, people find themselves bombarded with an overwhelming amount of negative or concerning news from various sources without knowing ways to participate in helping these specific causes.
After watching families separated at the border in 2016, Maria Underwood, the solo founder of Fundrage, designed a free chrome extension allowing any person to donate to a qualified nonprofit based on the article they’re reading.
When reading a news article, Fundrage will suggest three nonprofits with filters to pick more local charity donations. Users can read more about each nonprofit to find the best fit for their beliefs before making their final donation. “We try to give all the information with a mission statement up front so [people] don’t have to leave the article to donate somewhere else,” Underwood told Hypepotamus.
With a focus on trust, Fundrage is currently only populating national news sites. “I use the media bias chart to choose which websites the icon would show up on because I’m making sure people trust the nonprofits, and I want to make sure that people are getting news from fairly unbiased sources so they can make donations to them,” added Underwood.
Many donation platforms such as Facebook or GoFundMe don’t always donate to a valid 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Underwood said her goal in building the startup was to “ not make an emotional donation at the moment, but I wanted to make sure my money was going to a place that was going to do the best work with that money.”
To track the validity of nonprofit organizations, Underwood uses Charity Navigator which is the “gold standard seal for nonprofits,” ensuring they have rated four stars or above. This feature steers users from the donation trap that could send their funds to a not-credible source.
Having ten years of nonprofit and fundraising experience, Underwood recognized the importance of creating a tool like this, specifically to help those experiencing news burnout. “One of our biggest competitors right now is apathy with people not wanting to watch the news anymore. So Fundrage is designed to help people stay informed, but feel a little better about doing it. Now I say we can’t change the news, but we can make you feel a little better while you’re watching it.” Underwood explained.
Future add-ons for the extension and app include adding more nonprofits and a social share feature to tell your friends where and why you donated. “Right now we have account portals that we rolled out so you can keep track of all the donations that you’ve made. I have plans to [create a] “Spotify wrapped” for the end of the year [to show] all of the places I’ve donated to and all of the causes,” Underwood added.
Though the Fundrage extension has only been in beta since October 2021, by mid-July Underwood is hoping to roll out the beta of the app for iPhones and Androids. “A lot of times people aren’t reading the news at their desktop, but I want to be able to show people how nonprofits can connect right on your screen,” Underwood explained. For those interested, gofundraise.com has a waitlist feature to allow individuals the first notifications and release of the app.
“As a business, we measure success by how many people are not just downloading the extension but how many people are using it and how often. I wanted to create a product where people can stay engaged with what’s going on and easily make an impact.”