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Benevity

benevity.com

Stage

Unattributed VC | Alive

Total Raised

$69.2M

Revenue

$0000 

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About Benevity

Benevity is a software social enterprise whose platform and products enable companies to build social responsibility and giving into their businesses to increase the social impact of their programs and to attract, retain and engage customers, employees and partners.

Headquarters Location

611 Meredith Road

Calgary, Alberta, T2E 2W5,

Canada

1-855-237-7875

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Expert Collections containing Benevity

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Benevity is included in 3 Expert Collections, including HR Tech.

H

HR Tech

4,016 items

HR tech startups are helping companies manage critical pain points in HR processes such as recruitment, automation, career development, compensation, and benefits management, through a mix of software and services.

F

Fintech

3,455 items

Excludes US-based companies

C

Canadian fintech

349 items

Latest Benevity News

How Black non-profits responded to 2020′s windfall

Nov 19, 2022

How Black non-profits responded to 2020′s windfall Published 8 hours ago Paul Bailey, the executive director at the Black Health Alliance, at his office in Toronto on Nov. 7.Cole Burston/The Globe and Mail Share For much of the Black Health Alliance’s existence, annual donations to the Toronto-based charity had come at a modest and steady drip. From 2017 to 2019, they amounted to an average of $6,595 a year, a fraction of its equally modest six-figure revenue. But then in May, 2020, the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn., set off a tumultuous summer of protests for Black rights that spread from the United States around the world and triggered a surge of donations to Black-led organizations in Canada. The Black Health Alliance’s work isn’t connected to police violence, but the donations that came in the months that followed Mr. Floyd’s death can only be described as a deluge. By the end of the fiscal year, the non-profit had received $3,363,290 – an increase of more than 40,000 per cent from the previous year’s $8,135. “The reaction from folks was a bit of shock,” said Paul Bailey, the Black Health Alliance’s executive director, reflecting on how staff at his organization – whose work is largely focused on health promotion in Black communities in Canada – responded to the influx of cash. They weren’t the only ones who experienced a bump in attention and funding that summer. The Black Health Alliance and several other Black-focused non-profits and charities were included on blog, magazine and social-media lists: “What you (yes, you) can do to support Black Lives Matter,” “20 Canadian anti-racism organizations you can support” and “19 organizations supporting Black Canadians to donate to.” It proved rewarding. They were tagged in thousands of posts, where users shared screenshots of the donations they’d made, urging their followers to do the same. Benevity, a Calgary company that helps corporations manage charitable giving globally, tracked a 15-fold increase in June, 2020, in total charitable giving among its clients (the majority of which are in the U.S. and Canada). Fifty-five per cent of donations were to racial and social-justice organizations. The Toronto-based Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) saw its donations grow from $12,046 in 2019 to more than $2.4-million in 2020. Black Lives Matter Canada’s donations shot up from $417,840 in 2019 to $8.18-million in 2020 – the majority of those funds transferred to the Canadian chapter by BLM’s global network in the U.S. But by September, 2020, the giving in that sector had fallen sharply. Google searches for “Black charity” and “Black Lives Matter Canada donation” peaked in late May to early June and then took a nosedive. The plunge was something Black organizations anticipated – and part of a pattern that experts in philanthropy and social psychology have seen play out before. They’ve found a correlation between mainstream news coverage and the trajectory of interest and donations in social movements of the past. Once the news cycle moved on, public interest in a cause petered out. In the summer of 2020, “everyone and their mama supported and funded a special Black friend for that period that they could announce,” said Liban Abokor, a self-described “philanthropy disruptor” who co-founded the Foundation for Black Communities, the country’s first philanthropic foundation dedicated to Black charities and non-profits. “But since then, it has tapered off and we expected and anticipated that there would be a regression to the mean.” For some of the non-profits and charities, the surge of funding was destabilizing, Mr. Abokor said. Some were small operations without even the proper staffing in place to manage the influx of donations, or the experience to strategically plan how to spend it. At BLAC, a community legal clinic, the majority of the funds remained unspent for almost two years. The organization was just in its second full year of operation when the surge came, and still establishing its brand and its priorities. In 2021, it expanded its board from five members to nine. Last year, it spent $28,776 on its school-to-prison pipeline project and earlier this year earmarked $50,000 to hire a lawyer to provide free legal services to Black families navigating anti-Black racism in the school system. Before most spending could begin, though, the organization scheduled a series of community consultations to develop its five-year strategic plan and its board discussed not just how the money could be allocated but also whether the cash injection might jeopardize funding the organization received annually from Legal Aid Ontario. BLAC has also received funding from the federal government to support its projects. “We’re not going to be rushing to try to solve a long-term situation in the short term,” said Roy Williams, chair of BLAC’s board of directors. “We will guard it carefully and spend it carefully.” This cautious approach comes at a time when BLM Canada has faced scrutiny for the way it’s spent donations. The organization began as a radical non-hierarchical movement focused on bringing attention to anti-Black racism and police brutality, but over the years it has professionalized and some of its original founders have abandoned it for straying too far from its activist roots. In 2021, BLM Canada, which is now a registered charity, purchased a property in downtown Toronto for $6.3-million to turn it into the Wildseed Centre for Art and Activism. It received $250,000 from the municipal government to complete upgrades on the facility. Donations from 2020 were spent on operations of BLM Canada as well as programming, operations and renovations at the Wildseed Centre, according to Imani Busby, a BLM Canada spokesperson. Some of the centre’s initiatives include a gardening program, a community kitchen and children’s programming. At the Black Health Alliance, Mr. Bailey knew the charity could not sustain the level of funding it received in 2020, so it seemed irresponsible to spend the $3-million windfall without major planning first. Mr. Bailey has also been careful to keep focus on the organization’s mandate. It’s not a community health clinic that is testing for diseases that disproportionately affect Black people, nor a service delivery organization providing food to families, nor a research institute conducting studies – the charity’s focus is on health promotion. In 2020, Mr. Bailey predicted the organization’s revenue would likely decline the following year. He didn’t want to create precarious situations for staff in which they were hired for five months and then out of a job. And he was right – donations for the following year dropped 72 per cent, to less than $1-million. In 2021, BLAC experienced an even steeper decline of 86 per cent, receiving less than $300,000 in donations. BLM Canada’s donations plummeted to $451,413 in 2021. “The downfall of this hypergrowth is whatever goes up must come down,” said Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist and director of the University of Cambridge’s Social Decision-Making Lab. Prof. van der Linden has studied fundraising campaigns that have followed the same arc as what happened in the summer of 2020 – including the Save Darfur movement of 2006 and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 – in which a decline in donations followed a slowdown of news coverage and broader cultural discussion. Many people who made donations in the summer of 2020, who changed their Instagram profile pictures to a black square as a symbol of their allyship, and who promised to “listen and learn” likely followed what social psychologists call “single action bias.” The Black Health Alliance’s work isn’t connected to police violence, but the donations that came in the months that followed George Floyd’s death can only be described as a deluge.Cole Burston/The Globe and Mail “Once people have done something, they feel they have contributed and that’s it now,” Prof. van der Linden said. “You want them to integrate it as an important thing in their lives that they’re going to keep doing, but because it’s costly, because it takes time, because it’s hard, those conversion rates tend to be extremely low.” Grace Ki, who is Korean-Canadian, is one of the millions who had a social awakening in 2020, prompted by Mr. Floyd’s murder and the movement sparked by it. The Torontonian had posted a black square to her Instagram on June 2, but something gnawed at her – was there something more tangible she could do? She knew that Black people were discriminated against by police on a systematic level, and that this system was well-established, resourced and would not change overnight. Racial profiling and unjustified arrests would continue. She asked herself, “How can they have access to legal power to try to navigate out of these unfair situations once they unfortunately find themselves in there?” She learned about BLAC and made a one-time donation to the centre. She told others about their work and encouraged them to do the same. She started reading: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole. “I was living in this comfortable bubble of my friends and neighbours and colleagues,” she said. “I was living in ignorance.” A poll by the Pew Research Institute found that 67 per cent of Americans supported the Black Lives Matter movement in June, 2020, but by September, only 55 per cent said they did. Share of donations in support of racial and social justice causes Global data, primarily from U.S. 60% SOURCE: BENEVITY Sona Khosla, the chief impact officer at Benevity, the Calgary company that manages corporate donations to charity, said much of the giving in the summer of 2020 was driven by the strong emotional reactions people had – to seeing the video of Mr. Floyd’s death, to reading about the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. “I think, as humans, we seek an outlet to make a difference when we see these things happen that disturb us or upset us or make us realize that things are not right in the world for everyone,” said Ms. Khosla – but it’s rare for people to hold on to those feelings for a sustained period. “And so we absolutely see the spike, and then the return to normal.” In 2020, within weeks of Mr. Floyd’s murder, hundreds of corporations in Canada signed on to the BlackNorth Initiative, a pledge to tackle anti-Black racism within their ranks by doing things such as hiring more Black people and supporting Black charities. Two years later, when The Globe and Mail surveyed the 481 signatories on the progress they’d made, only 145 replied. Of these, 54 per cent said they had hit their goal of directing 3 per cent of donations to organizations doing work in Black communities; 15 per cent said they had not; 10 per cent were unsure; and 21 per cent said they hadn’t donated to any organizations at all. A strong emotional reaction is actually not a great predictor of what movements will hook people’s long-term support, Prof. van der Linden said. The shocking murder of a Black man by a police officer may trigger feelings of empathy or sadness that motivate people to read books about Black liberation or donate to a charity helping Black youth in their community, but if those emotions don’t alter a person’s moral outlook, Prof. van der Linden said, they’re not going to motivate the person in the long term. Top 10 causes supported by companies and their people (global data, primarily from U.S.) May vs. June, 2020 SOURCE: BENEVITY And that’s precisely why Mr. Abokor, the co-founder of the Foundation for Black Communities, said Black organizations shouldn’t be at the mercy of individuals whose attention may wax and wane depending on the news cycle, or of governments whose funding priorities might change from election to election. There can even be a burdensome side to major corporate donations, he points out, since they often specify how a charity or non-profit can spend a donation and the time period by which the money must be used. He believes part of the solution is equity benchmarks for all charitable foundations, so a portion of their donations is always directed at Black charities. In 2017 and 2018, for every $100 given to the country’s 40 top foundations, only 30 cents made their way to Black-led organizations, according to a study that Mr. Abokor co-authored, published by Carleton University’s Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program and the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities. “The only way to ensure Black communities are going to receive support is to ensure that there’s a pot of money that has been created specifically for Black communities to be supported. And it has to be outside of government. It has to be managed and directed by Black folks,” Mr. Abokor said. At BLM Canada, which operates entirely on donations and government grants, the focus is now on where else they might turn to in order to sustain a steady stream of revenue. “Even though Black Lives Matter–Canada’s grassroots organizing support and research have increased since the 2020 uprisings, donor support has significantly declined,” said Jessica Kirk, BLM Canada’s executive director, in an e-mailed statement to The Globe. She pointed out that donations BLM Canada received in the month of June, 2022, represent less than 1 per cent of what they received in June, 2020. “We are actively seeking creative solutions to diversify our revenue, in order to continue supporting Black liberation efforts across Turtle Island.” For the Black Health Alliance, 2020′s donations enabled the organization to expand its staff and invest more in programs focused on the mental health of Black youth. Those funds prompted Mr. Bailey and his team to have conversations about planning, sustainability, their mission and how they’ll deliver results – but also how they might be more pro-active around fundraising so the news cycle isn’t the chief determinant of what they bring in. “To some extent, it’s put pressure on us to step up,” he said.

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Benevity Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Where is Benevity's headquarters?

    Benevity's headquarters is located at 611 Meredith Road, Calgary.

  • What is Benevity's latest funding round?

    Benevity's latest funding round is Unattributed VC.

  • How much did Benevity raise?

    Benevity raised a total of $69.2M.

  • Who are the investors of Benevity?

    Investors of Benevity include Generation Investment Management, The Rise Fund, JMI Equity, General Atlantic and HgCapital.

  • Who are Benevity's competitors?

    Competitors of Benevity include Goodera and 7 more.

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