San Diego Business Journal
Feeding San Diego, a hunger-relief charity and food bank serving San Diego County through a variety of direct-to-client and partner agency programs, depends on outside donations in its mission to help end hunger.

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Soraya Alexander COO Classy

The nonprofit, which was established in 2007, provides more than 40 million meals annually to children, families, seniors, college students, military members and veterans. It partners with a network of nearly 300 local charities, schools, faith communities, meal sites and food pantries.


But one of its most necessary partnerships is with 
Classy, the online giving platform that enables nonprofit groups and organizations to connect supporters with causes they care about.

San Diego-based Classy was originally founded in 2006 to host fundraising events that benefit charities but starting in 2011 has worked with nonprofit organizations via software-as-a-service (SaaS) to address root causes that drive needs for fundraising.

 
It was acquired earlier this year by GoFundMe, another San Diego-based company.

 
Feeding San Diego has partnered with Classy since 2012.


Beginning in 2018, Classy has annually released a report about philanthropy, providing insights on how donors can more effectively engage with nonprofits, and how nonprofits can have more meaningful connections with their supporters.

 
Classy last month released its fifth-annual “The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022 - The Path to Lasting Donor Connections” report.


“There is no single approach that accounts for each nonprofit’s unique challenges, goals, and ideas,” said Classy COO Soraya Alexander. “But by keeping a pulse on the evolving donor landscape through our proprietary data across 5,000 nonprofit customers, our goal is to help nonprofit leaders create a diversified fundraising strategy that can further advance their organization’s missions and accelerate social impact.”


Classy’s interactive online report breaks down donation trends and insights, which gives valuable information and insights to nonprofit groups like Feeding San Diego.


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Ali Colbran Director of Development, Institutional Giving & Donor Relations Feeding San Diego

Classy’s Technical Prowess a Boon to Nonprofits

Ali Colbran, Feeding San Diego’s Director of Development, Institutional Giving and Donor Relations, said Classy manages the nonprofit’s technical side online, making it easy for people to donate to Feeding San Diego.


Colbran said that Classy recently expanded the ways donors can give, through Mobile Wallet, Venmo and bank transfers.


“We have seen a great return on those options for donors,” Colbran said.


She also said that Feeding San Diego is honing in on recurring donations, those donors who give weekly, monthly, semi-annually, etc. She said the way Classy’s platform is set up makes giving less stressful for Feeding San Diego’s more than 1,100 recurring donors.


“Partners like Classy are helping us optimize our campaign strategies, meeting donors where they are and making it accessible and easy for them to help our organization,” Colbran said.


Colbran said that said that Feeding San Diego appreciates that Classy also “puts out a lot of research and best practices on how to increase support.”


To that point, officials with Classy say that this year’s report is the most comprehensive breakdown of Classy’s proprietary giving platform data to date.

 
More than 12 million unique donations totaling over $1 billion across over 54,000 active nonprofit campaigns were analyzed to arrive at findings nonprofits can put into action.


Nonprofits on the Classy platform raised $1.1 billion in 2021.


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Krista Lamp Senior Director, Brand, Events & Communication Classy

Krista Lamp, Classy’s Senior Director of Brand, Events & Communication, said one of the main takeaways from the report is that two years after COVID-19, “events are back, and that shouldn’t surprise us.”

The report found that events reignited as a leading fundraising strategy in 2021, accumulating 49 percent year over year growth in donation volume.

 
“Events had the biggest growth in 2021, and of course a lot of that is due to the pandemic,” Lamp said. “But what we’re seeing now is that it includes more hybrid events, not just the traditional ones we are familiar with. Nonprofits have been able to tap into a virtual online audience with some cool innovation.”


The rise of events coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic also represented the highest conversion rate out of any campaign type on Classy’s platform. Specifically, events that include peer-to-peer fundraising had a 47 percent conversion rate.


More Choices Lead to Greater Giving


As Colbran and Feeding San Diego noted, the report also showed that donors give more when they have more choices.


Having multiple payment options correlates with higher gift amounts. For instance, the report found that, during this past giving season, one-time donations via PayPal were 30 percent higher than credit card donations for organizations on Classy’s payments offering called Classy Pay.


The data also showed that the average Automated Clearing House recurring gift was 29 percent larger than a recurring gift made through a credit card.


Other findings showed that nonprofits using Classy’s platform acquired 10 times more donors on “Giving Tuesday” in November compared to an average day of the year and that 30 percent of annual donation volume on Classy in 2021 took place between Giving Tuesday and Dec. 31.

 
The report also highlighted prioritizing social media channels based on individual goals, that having a multi-channel approach to engage donors on social media is critical for inspiring people to take action.

 
The report said that Facebook drives 83.4 percent of social media traffic to campaign pages, the most of any platform.


But the report said that other social platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram showed the highest conversion potential as “key social media platforms” that attract motivated supporters who are ready to complete donations.


Classy
FOUNDED: 2006 (SaaS in 2011)
CEO: Christopher Himes
HEADQUARTERS: Gaslamp Quarter
BUSINESS: Fundraising platform for nonprofits
EMPLOYEES: 350
WEBSITE: 
classy.org
NOTABLE: Nonprofits on the Classy platform raised $1.1 billion last year.