Advancing the Quality, Affordability, and Accessibility of Education
As partners to technology and healthcare companies, we are fortunate to often be in the position of “doing good by doing well.” Whether through improving the sustainability of consumer goods (Higg), increasing the availability of behavioral healthcare (LifeStance Health), or replacing paper with eco-friendly digital processes (Formstack, PDFTron Systems), investing in growth has the potential to solve difficult problems and create a more efficient and equitable future. For certain companies, having a positive impact on society is the north star that guides daily operations and long-term strategic decision making. Last week we announced a minority investment in GiveCampus – a company whose rapid organic growth and reputation as a pioneer in the educational fundraising industry is underpinned by an unwavering commitment to a broader mission: to advance the quality, affordability, and accessibility of education. Through its software and payments platform, GiveCampus empowers nonprofit educational institutions to serve its students. It also directly serves this community: in 2020, the company launched The GiveCampus Social Mobility Initiative and pledged $1 million in free fundraising support for programs that help low-income students, first-generation students, and underrepresented minorities.
In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, universities in the United States alone raised $53 billion in charitable donations.¹ Fundraising is a mission-critical revenue source for schools without which tuition prices would soar even more, spending budgets would plummet, and financial aid would be severely limited. Despite obvious tailwinds—an increasingly digital-first alumni base, broader access to richer alumni data, and growth in online payments technology—research shows that younger alumni participate significantly less than older alumni in donating to their alma maters.
Young alumni want targeted, personalized educational fundraising, and this demand hasn’t been adequately met by legacy technology. Younger alumni want the giving process to be not only more efficient but also more transparent. Giving back should be easy, and it should feel good.
Kestrel Linder and Mike Kong founded GiveCampus in 2014 after feeling frustrated by the opaque, arduous process of giving back to their alma mater. In a crowded market with large, legacy vendors, GiveCampus has steadfastly grown to serve over 1,000 higher ed and K-12 institutions across the country, facilitating over $2 billion in charitable giving. Along this journey, Kestrel and Mike have recruited a talented team of industry experts who share their dedication to their customers and unwavering commitment to the company’s mission.
GiveCampus helps schools answer key donor questions that drive conversion: Where are donations going? Who are they serving? Why is the cause important? Their products engage alumni based on personal experience at their school (e.g., sports team, class year, affinity group); with GiveCampus, schools can tap into the sense of community that alumni felt as students. GiveCampus’ bootstrapped, organic growth in a large market, with currently a small sales and marketing operation, speaks to a central theme behind all Silversmith investments: modern products that have grown through organic, word-of-mouth passion and that customers love. Fundraising & development offices celebrate becoming GiveCampus customers with one declaring to alumni that partnering with GiveCampus was “joining the 21st century.”
We are thrilled to partner with Kestrel, Mike, and the entire GiveCampus team as the company’s first institutional investor. We firmly believe in the role that fundraising technology will continue to play in advancing social mobility through access to education. We love that the GiveCampus mission is ambitious and are grateful for the opportunity to support a team with such passion to do good by doing well.