This Startup Raised $3.7M To Let Anyone Create A Personal Charitable Foundation And Donate Stocks And ETFs To Charity

November 20 04:30 2020
This Startup Raised $3.7M To Let Anyone Create A Personal Charitable Foundation And Donate Stocks And ETFs To Charity

Vennfi, the financial technology company for tax-exempt payments, announced its close of a $2.3M Series Seed fundraise. The round was led by seasoned fintech investor Tom Blaisdell, formerly of DCM Ventures. Teamworthy Ventures,, Sovereign’s Capital, and Promus Ventures participated in the round, alongside several return backers and new mission-aligned funds and individual investors. In total, the venture will have raised $3.7M over the last 9 months.

The company’s flagship platform, Charityvest, lets anyone instantly create a tax-deductible charitable giving account, known as a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF), which acts like a personal charitable foundation. Users can make tax deductible contributions of cash, stocks, and other appreciated assets to their fund, direct donations at any time to over 1.4M nonprofits in the US from their fund balance, send gifts of charitable money to friends and family, and keep track of all of their giving activity with a single consolidated tax receipt.

Additionally, the platform helps companies automatically match their employees’ charitable giving with smart budgets and compliance tools. The corporate matching offering, called Charityvest for Workplaces, has been adopted by dozens of organizations and thousands of employees since it was publicly announced at Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 demo day in August. Employers can launch a charitable matching program in minutes and employees appreciate the easy to use, flexible interface.

On Giving Tuesday (December 1, 2020), Charityvest will launch zero-fee stock contributions, allowing users to make donations of appreciated publicly-traded stocks and ETFs, directly to their fund, from any brokerage. Donating appreciated stock has substantial tax advantages – mostly through the avoidance of capital gains taxes, and the consequential larger charitable income tax deduction – that result in more funds being available for giving to charities.

Charityvest’s zero-fee stock giving feature is the first of its kind, enabling both individual donors and employees of companies that use Charityvest to make a tax-deductible gift of securities to their Fund, and use the cash proceeds to support one or more charities with just a few clicks.

“We’re thrilled to launch zero-fee stock giving for Charityvest Funds,” said the company’s CEO Stephen Kump. “We see stock giving as a highly efficient way to intentionally set aside financial resources for generosity. With financial markets at all-time highs, we believe we’re releasing this feature at an important moment for many donors who may not have considered stock gifts in the past – either because they were too complicated, or because they simply didn’t know it was possible. We also believe more and more employees of public companies who use Charityvest for Workplaces will begin using their vested equity grants to give charitably, thanks to this feature.”

Charityvest uses donor-advised funds (DAFs), which have traditionally been marketed to wealthy donors. The platform has dramatically reduced the complexity and cost of DAFs, and offers its funds with zero fees and the lowest contribution and grant minimums – only $20 to get started. Since Charityvest’s launch, two major incumbent DAFs – Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable – have modified their platform’s policies to reduce account opening minimums and make their platform more accessible for donors of all sizes.

“Being generous makes people happier, and Charityvest makes being generous easier,” said lead investor Tom Blaisdell. “This is yet another example of taking a financial vehicle – donor-advised funds, in this case – widely used by wealthy families and individuals to simplify and amplify their charitable giving, and applying technology to make it simple and inexpensive enough for everyone to take advantage of it. I’m excited to be involved in helping Charityvest make the world more generous.”

The Charityvest experience has been compared to a “Venmo for charitable giving” due to its simplicity and ease of use. Since launching in December 2019, Charityvest has facilitated giving to hundreds of nonprofit organizations and received over $3M in charitable contributions from donors. With over 50% of charitable giving occurring in the final two months of the year, the company aims to see much more in donations come through before the calendar turns over to 2021.

Charityvest is unique, as 100% of donated funds go to nonprofits. Nonprofits and churches can use the platform to receive donations with no setup or contract required, receiving just one consolidated payment for all donations made on a monthly basis.

Charityvest’s mission is to enable generosity through technology. It also aims to foster habits of regular, intentional giving among donors, which has been shown in numerous studies to increase positive psychological effects and decrease anxiety and depression.

In addition to providing charitable giving funds to individuals or families, the company plans to grow by providing businesses the ability to sponsor tax-advantaged charitable giving funds for employees and provide churches with a free digital solution to collect donations from members.

The venture was first envisioned by Stephen Kump at Yale University in 2016 where he was an MBA student at the time. “My wife and I made a commitment to give a percentage of our income away, and we wanted a donor-advised fund to manage it, but the fees and experience of traditional funds didn’t make sense for us or our friends.” said Stephen, the venture’s CEO. Instead of collecting fees, Charityvest invests aggregated account balances in low-risk investment vehicles, like a bank. It can create positive economics this way due to its highly efficient, scalable technology.

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