Chicago Tech Startup: Zealous Good

April 26, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Zealous Good is an internet networking platform that assists charities in finding patrons who are seeking to provide in-kind donations. Charities can submit information to Zealous Goods about the items they need and donors fill these requests through Zealous Goods’ “wishlists” board. Founder and CEO of Zealous Good, Brittany Martin Graunke, answered our questions about what her company does.

TINC: What is Zealous Good? Are you a for-profit or nonprofit organization yourselves?

Brittany Martin Graunke: Zealous Good is an online platform that connects people with extra items to local non-profits with matching needs. Basically, we help people that have goods to donate, find non-profits that truly need their goods. We also help non-profits access a large community of in-kind donors and connect them to in-kind donations they need. We’re trying to make it easier, faster and more meaningful to donate excess items to local charities in need. We are a for-profit and never solicit donations for ourselves or request donations from donors.

TINC: Help us understand the specifics: someone wants to donate something, they hit the “Give” button. What happens then? What type of online transaction is facilitated?

BMG: When someone visits ZealousGood.com and wants to donate something, after they click GIVE, they submit some details about their donation – a brief description, value, if it needs to be picked up/dropped off and they can also upload a photo. Then the fun part happens: local charities are informed that there is a new donation available and if interested, the charities request it. The donor receives emails stating what charities want to request it and how they would use the donation. The donor then visits their donation matches page, picks the charity they want to donate to and Zealous Good automatically email introduces the donor to the charity contact. The donor and charity coordinate via phone or email the donation pick up and drop off. Zealous Good also follows up with a story of how the donation is being used and ensures the donor receives their tax receipt.

TINC: What are the costs involved in using Zealous Good, for charities and donors?

BMG: Donors pay no fees what so ever. Non-profits can create free wishlist profiles on ZealousGood.com, but only subscribe if they see donations they want to request and receive – the monthly plans start at $5/month and increase based on the value of donations requested and received by the non-profit. We keep the fees incredibly low so that it’s not a prohibitive aspect of the service, but helps us offset the costs of providing the service.

TINC: Do donors have to be individuals or organizations?

BMG: They can be both – we love both companies and individuals to donate!

TINC: What organizations are considered “charities”? Is 501c3 status required?

BMG: 501c3 status or 501c3 status pending is required. We post the charities’ status on each Zealous Good profile page so that donors can be informed.

TINC: How does Zealous Goods assess donation values and issue tax receipts?

BMG: According to the IRS, donation values must be determined by the donor and need to be “fair market value.” Essentially, if you were going to sell your donation, what value would you be able to sell it for? The charities we work for issue the tax receipts. Zealous Good follows up and ensures they have all the information needed to create and send the receipt.

TINC: What are some organizations that you currently work with?

BMG: We work with over 50 charitable organizations – Chicago House, St. Vincent de Paul Center, Anixter Center and Greenhouse Theater were our pilot members. Since the pilot we are now working with even more organizations of all sizes and with various issue areas in Chicago.

TINC: What are your plans for expansion in the future?

BMG: Our goal this year is to expand the reach of Zealous Good in Chicago and next year we’d love to expand Zealous Good to other cities. Ideally in 5 years time we’ll be in 20+ cities across the US.

The following information about Zealous Good comes from the Chicago Startup Catalog:

Funding Level: Pre-A Series (no external funding);
Industry Type: Not-for-profit; Community and Marketplace
Employment Size: 1-10
Founders: Brittany Martin Graunke
Founding Date: Launched the pilot program March 15, 2011.

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