Article 7 min

Change Heroes: Vancouver Fintech Disrupts Fundraising

April 11, 2016  


Next up on our Fintech blog series is a Vancouver startup on a mission to empower change makers around the world to make a real impact. The idea for the startup evolved from a life changing trip to Kenya that propelled Taylor Conroy to start a social enterprise that would impact the lives of school children in developing countries. When Taylor returned to Canada, he became obsessed with fundraising and wanted to do one thing: fund a schoolhouse in Kenya. He knew it would cost $10,000, so he looked into ways to achieve this goal by studying what fundraising campaigns worked and didn’t work in the past. After a lot of trial and error and research, he came up with a simple formula to come up with $10,000 in 9- days.  He made a list containing 33 of his friends and sent each of them a personal video asking them for $3.33 a day for 3 months. And within three months, he was able to raise the funds needed to build the schoolhouse in Kenya, which inspired his idea for Change Heroes, a peer-to-peer fundraising platform that empowers individuals to mobilize their communities to create change.

As a community, Change Heroes has raised over $3 million across 40 different countries. Not only do the fundraisers make a positive impact in communities around the world, but these change makers also have the opportunity to see firsthand the real impact they are making by visiting their site and meeting the children and individuals they are helping. The team is focused on making sure their technology platform delivers a meaningful human experience and deep connections for everyone involved.

33 friends, 3.33 a day, 3 months
How to raise $10,000

33 friends giving $3.33 a day for 3 months = $10,000

Based out of Vancouver, Change Heroes enables anyone to run their own campaign where they invite 33 of their friends to pledge a modest donation of $3.33 per day for three months to help build a school for under privileged children in a developing country. Some people have been able to raise the money in under three months, and others even as little as one day. Once funds are raised, the money is provided to Free The Children, a partner organization, that implements the tools necessary to build an entire school from ground up.

We invited the amazing change makers from Change Heroes to our office last month and had the chance to chat with Mike Tan, COO of Change Heroes. He was kind enough to share some background about the company along with what the future holds for Change Heroes.

Trulioo: What are some milestones that contributed to the success of Change Heroes?

Mike: In 2012, we partnered with Free The Children and launched our platform to originally enable our friends to help fundraise to build schools around the world. At first, Change Heroes was completed as a passion project and we never thought it would turn into a large business. Since then we have raised over $1.5M with Free The Children funding over 150 new school houses in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ecuador, Nicaragua,  India, and China.

In 2013, we were invited to be part of the very first cohort at the Coast Capital Innovation Hub, Vancouver’s very first incubator for Social Enterprises. Our experience at the Innovation Hub was invaluable. We met so many other great social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and learned more about how we could scale the impact we were making in the world. That same year we were invited down to Silicon Valley to pitch investors alongside 19 other companies from around the world and we were voted Startup World’s Best Social Enterprise.

In January 2015, we launched a new SaaS version of our video-based, friend-to-friend fundraising platform to help other nonprofits and charities around the world raise more funds and scale the impact they’re making on the ground. To date, we’ve partnered with 53 of the world’s leading nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies raising more than $2M to fund thousands of schools, libraries, clean water projects, relief kits, scholarships, and conservation projects.

Trulioo: How is Change Heroes different from other peer-to-peer fundraising platforms?

Mike: We’re hyper focused on using videos to fundraise. Our partners and their fundraisers use our platform to create personal videos resulting in a more personalized fundraising experience that leads to higher conversions and more impact created. Fifty percent of personal videos that get watched result in a donation. We also create a custom animated video for each of our charity partners to help tell their story and connect donors to the impact they’re making.

We’re building a community alongside our technology platformWe are focused on introducing our growing community of trailblazers and change makers to our new charity partners. Currently we’ve built up a community of over 250,000 Instagram followers and are constantly meeting new, amazing fundraisers, supporters and donors who are dedicated to making this world a better place.

We provide enterprise back end tools. Most peer-to-peer platforms are built for individuals to run a single campaign, but don’t provide their clients with the right tools to empower their supporters to run hundreds of campaigns. We provide tools like intelligent email system that automatically coaches fundraisers based on the milestones they’re at, the ability to clone and launch thousands of campaigns using the same content, making it easier for people create a fundraising page and provide for more consistent results, and fundraiser and donor reports that can be uploaded to a partner’s CRM like Salesforce or Blackbaud.

We take a partnership approach. At Change Heroes we believe in dedicating the time and resources to truly capture the impact stories and essence of each of partners. That belief is why we provide our partners with custom landing pages, donation pages, animated videos, and impact dashboards, whereas most other platforms provide a one size fits all templated experience. We also incorporate campaign strategy development to ensure that each campaign is going to be successful before signing a new partnership agreement. We want to make sure that each and every campaign launch will be successful and as much funds as possible go towards creating impact.

We’re a social enterprise. All profits are dedicated to creating more good in the world. Change Heroes began with a social mission to one day see a world where every child has access to education and we built this platform for ourselves and our friends to use. As we have grown our mission has evolved and our partners now extend well beyond just our own friends and family. However, our dedication to creating as much good and impact in the world still remains central to Change Heroes as an organization.

Trulioo: So, what’s next for Change Heroes?

MikeWe’re continuing to partner with the world’s leading nonprofits and charities and continue to help our current partners tap into their other supporter groups. Whether that be corporate partners, celebrities, volunteers, and past donors we help them build deeper connections and engaged communities to continue to raise more funds and scale their impact.

In addition, we have a few exciting launches and internal updates in the pipeline. These include:

  • Launch a new mobile version of our platform this Summer where anyone can launch and manage their campaigns directly from their phones.
  • Launch a new self-serve version of our platform so we are able to help smaller nonprofits and charities leverage our platform and the impact of video-based, friend-to-friend fundraising.
  • Continue to help grow the social enterprise scene in Vancouver and Canada.
  • Continue to expand our team.
  • Leverage our technology and growing community to ultimately help the nonprofit world increase the amount that’s given to charitable causes each and every year from the 2% of US GDP (the same for the last 100 years) to 3% to 4% to eventually 10% one day.

The fun-loving team at Change Heroes are a passionate group of change makers driven by impact. We had a great time learning about the inspiration behind their mission and look forward to hearing about all their future success. If you are interested in running your own campaign, becoming a charity partner or a corporate sponsor, check out Change Heroes today!