A brand new social media platform focusing on social responsibility today announced it snagged $1.2 million to change the face of fundraising from a Gen Z perspective. Wishly is aimed at the curious Venn-diagram intersection of consumer brands, philanthropists and nonprofit organizations. The hope is to leverage the power of social media for social good.
The app was created by a couple of experienced social impact marketers, nonprofit fundraisers and administrators, Joanne Gonzalez-Forster and Justine Makoff. They saw a need for a social platform that embraced the optimism and altruism of the Gen Z generation, and to help people band together to bring about real, positive change in the world.
“In early 2020 when support for COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter were exploding, we saw our kids and their friends using social media to inspire their followers to take action and give to the causes they care about,” said Joanne Gonzalez-Forster, co-founder and CEO. “There wasn’t an easy way for them to find and vet nonprofits, make small donations and inspire their friends to get involved.”
The company was able to drum up an impressive assortment of angel investors, including now-retired founding partner of Pelion Venture Partners Jim Dreyfous and social impact investor Joshua Mailman. The duo invested into a $400,000 pre-seed round in 2020, and came back with additional investors to invest in the company’s current seed round of $800,000.
“We’re so excited to see what Gen Z and our young millennial kids are gonna do with it. There are so many opportunities and there’s so much to be done in the world. There are natural disasters every other day. There are so many social movements. We built Wishly for them — for young adults today — so that they can make a positive impact in the world with small actions,” said Gonzales-Forster. “When you Google philanthropist, you see pictures of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett, but you don’t see young faces. We want to change that. We want to see young faces of all different colors and shapes and sizes.”
The company’s business model is simple: it retains 5% of all the funds raised on the platform. Wishly also makes sure to vet every nonprofit that is featured on the platform.
“We actually pulled a list of every registered 501c3 organization from the IRS, so they are all already on our platform, and we can accept donations for them. Once a nonprofit goes on the app to claim its profile, that’s our cue to vet them,” says Gonzalez-Forster. “We use the IRS search tool to make sure they are in good standing with the IRS, which would mean that it has filed its taxes three years in a row. We also check Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau, and we do a quick Google check to make sure that there’s no scams or lawsuits or misleading information about the nonprofit. There are a lot of bad charities out there.”
The app is available now on iOS and Android, although the team suggests that the product is mostly in a friends-and-family stage until a more public launch, which is coming up soon.