Tiltify Remakes Charity for the Video-Streaming Era, Raises $6.5M
Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.
Startup Tiltify wants to use lessons from Twitch's success in the gaming industry to change the way charities interact with their audiences. A recent $6.5 million raise will help them do just that.
The Los Angeles-based crowdfunding platform was launched in 2014 by Michael Wasserman and Mark Russell to get younger generations participating in charity fundraisers.
"There's a couple things that came up with every client," said Wasserman, a 12-year veteran of the charity space. "Consultants would ask me about younger donors and younger fundraisers: 'How do we work with the younger generation?', was sort of one side of it. And then the second side was thinking about how people are interacting through social media," he said.
Wasserman decided to launch Tiltify to give donors new ways to interact with their favorite charities beyond social media.
It took a cue from Amazon-owned Twitch. Its platform, launched in 2007, allows viewers not just to watch, but to take part in their favorite players' streaming video game. Tiltify wanted to do the same for live auctions and charity events.
"I was watching one yesterday on our site where people were weight lifting…All those like fun interactions where it sort of changed the value proposition from, 'Hey can you just drop off somebody at this sort of static mailbox page' that didn't do anything to a form of entertainment and more of an exchange to like, 'Well, let's get involved together and get my whole online community together,'" said Wasserman.
Tiltify co-founder Michael Wasserman.
The approach lets charities make their outreach efforts more conversational and interesting, Wasserman said, allowing them to expand beyond the usual charity campaign.
Pace Capital led the recent funding round, which the company will use to develop faster technology and unique fundraiser-focused features. Those include donation polls and reward incentives. Tiltify also recently inked an exclusive partnership with TikTok.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement and recent California wildfires, it's been more popular with a record number of new users to the platform, Wasserman said.
In April, Wasserman said he was contacted by over 400 charities and year-over-year user growth is 1,000%.
To create an account, charities must be verified by the Internal Revenue Service. Once they're approved, the services are free of charge.
"We never wanted a barrier for someone's favorite charity. Maybe they're really small. Maybe that charity only does $50,000 a year; we didn't want that to be a barrier for any organization," said Wasserman.
The startup charges based on an annual tier. Larger accounts can opt for a different model, in which Tiltify takes between 3% and 5% based on the volume of traffic coming in.
The crowdfunding market is expected to reach $28.8 billion by 2025.
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Minutes into filling out my absentee ballot last week, I was momentarily distracted by my dog Seamus. A moment later, I realized in horror that I was filling in the wrong bubble — accidentally voting "no" on a ballot measure that I meant to vote "yes" on.
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My distractingly sweet dog, Seamus.
Photo by Tami Abdollah
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