Causes, the popular Facebook charity application, has raised another $9 million in funding and introduced gift cards to let people donate online without using a credit card. The story in the San Francisco Chronicle says the new gift cards are available in Safeway and Vons supermarkets in California in denominations of $25 and $30.
Berkeley-based Causes was co-founded three years ago by Sean Parker and Joe Green. Parker is Causes chairman and also managing partner at venture capital fund Founders Fund but probably best known for being the former Facebook president and the co-founder of Napster (along with Shawn Fanning). His ties with Facebook were immortalized in the film The Social Network. Green, a Harvard University graduate, is Causes president and also has links with Facebook – he shared a dorm room with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg from 2003 to 2004.
The latest capital raising round, which included venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates and Founders Fund Management LLC, Silicon Valley startup backer Ron Conway and Salesforce.com Inc chief executive Marc Benioff, brings the total financing to $16 million. It’s understood the new funding will help Causes expand its team, which is currently only 16 strong.
Causes’ Facebook application connects 119 million people to a range of charities, making it easy to donate small amounts. Americans spent $303.8 billion on philanthropy last year, according to research group GivingUSA Foundation, Causes wants to channel a bigger portion of the money through social networks. The company makes money by asking for a voluntary “tip” of 10% or more. Causes also has partnerships with corporations, which pay between $50,000 and $300,000 on average for fundraising campaigns.