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Software startup connects businesses with charity opportunities

In a sour economy, employers are still looking for ways to give back, and Profits4Purpose, a San Diego software startup, is looking to streamline the process.

A business’s contributions to a community are good for brand recognition and employee morale, and some studies show consumers prefer to do business with brands that invest back into communities, said Jason Burns, president and CEO of Profits4Purpose.

The goal of Profits4Purpose is to automate the way companies contribute to communities, whether through donations, in-kind donations or volunteer time, since the littlest hiccup in the process of recruiting employees to volunteer or donate money, or the day-to-day of running a business is enough to halt the best effort.

“It doesn’t take much to derail good intentions,” Burns said.

The software — launched in January — allows employees to make and track donations and get involved with a company-sponsored volunteer event, and it allows employers to track its employees’ donations and volunteer hours. That makes it easy for employers to promote what employees are doing in the community.

Using the software, employers can select nonprofits they would like to work with, but it doesn’t limit employees from volunteering or donating to other organizations. The software also surveys employees to ask where their charitable interest lies, and allows them to share stories of organizations they work with.

In order to keep the process simple and transparent, Profits4Purpose does not transact any financial contributions. The software tracks the contributions, but it directs a user to a nonprofit’s giving page to make the transaction, Burns said. This way, too, 100 percent of the contribution goes to the organization, and there is no transaction fee.

Through a partnership with Volunteer San Diego, Profits4Purpose also includes a calendar of volunteer opportunities.

The goal, Burns said, is to streamline employers’ donation-matching and paid-time-off programs, and make it easier for employees to give back.

The software collects all of the data — money and in-kind donations, and time volunteered — and it allows employers to include a link on their websites that shows clients how much money and time the company gives back.

Mission Federal Credit Union — the sponsor of Sunday’s ArtWalk and an annual walk for Alzheimer’s awareness — is using the Profits4Purpose software to track its employees’ community contributions, said Tricia Link, the vice president of external affairs and community relations for Mission Federal.

Link said the software’s templates allow employees to share their individual charity work.

“With 450 employees in multiple locations, we didn’t think we were capturing all the things our employees were doing individually in their communities,” Link said. “We brought in Profits4Purpose to promote all the things we were doing as a company, and capture all the things we didn’t know our employees in every branch were doing.”

Fran Waller, the community development director for The Salvation Army Kroc Center, likes the software’s streamlined process for recruiting volunteers, and it doesn’t require the center to hire staff to coordinate the volunteer opportunities.

The Kroc Center’s family resource center has tripled the number of families it provides emergency services to, and volunteer time is as valuable as monetary gifts, Waller said.

“During hard economic times, nonprofits are looking for treasure and time,” Waller said. “A lot don’t have the treasure to give, but they have the time. [Profits4Purpose] gives people different opportunities to give back.”

Burns and his business partners self-funded the venture, using an undisclosed amount of capital. They started beta testing the system in August and now have 10 clients with nearly 7,000 employees using the software.

Burns left a lucrative job working with a group of orthopedic surgeons to develop Profits4Purpose, but he says, “Every day it’s worth it — to see 7,000 engaged on the system, involved in making a difference.”