The Live Give Save Foundation helps nonprofits increase donations through technology. Their mobile app, spave®, provides people with an easy way to give to the causes they care about, invite family and friends to join them, and amplify social good.
We interviewed Live Give Save's founder Susan Langer to learn more about how marketing and microtransactions are changing the world of charitable giving.
Tell us about the Live Give Save Foundation and your mission.
Live Give Save Foundation's mission is to accelerate and amplify social good through technology, data, and marketing. We aim to help nonprofits generate new donations from new generations through new technology. We fund the building and licensing of products to relieve the burden on nonprofits. Our goal is to create a new level of control, convenience, and choice for people and transformative good for the world.
What inspired you to champion this cause? What motivates you to stay involved?
The concept of Live Give Save is rooted in the groundbreaking concept of micro-finance. Micropayments make access to finance approachable, inclusive, and empowering to women in the developing world.
When I traveled to Africa in 1995, I saw women entrepreneurs living in abject poverty while repaying loans at a 99% repayment rate. Micropayments helped take women from a state of insecurity and isolation to one that provided a sense of self-confidence, independence, and dignity.
The concept of making micropayments to achieve goals struck me as a way to offer US consumers, particularly younger generations, a new way to save for their dreams and retirement, as well as effortlessly give to the causes they care about without changing their lifestyle. I was marketing co-branded credit cards for First Bank, now US Bank, enticing cardholders to increase usage through points and frequent flyer miles. It occurred to me that we could entice and reward folks to save for a secure future and still help others in need.
Tell us about your background. What skills helped you start Live Give Save? What new skills have you learned since it began?
Three words best describe me — observer, planner, connector.
I am a life-long learner and lover of people. My 30-year professional journey in financial services, marketing, advertising, international development, and nonprofits has taught me the value of listening, appreciating the differences of others, and the extraordinary power of collaboration.
In financial services, I grew the skill of relationship marketing through database management, systems integration, and launching the bank's first marketing customer information file. Though not in vogue at the time, direct marketing was an extremely valuable fundamental skill and knowledge base that I continue to draw upon.
In the advertising and marketing industry, I gained a deep appreciation for audience definition and learned the value of message positioning. By focusing on brand equity management, I designed a strategic planning model to help clients position and protect their brand while delivering a measurable return on investment. This approach allowed me to reliably exceed expectations.
My work in international development exposed me to the inherent challenges and profound beauty realized within the cross-cultural experience. Leading dynamic teams and championing collaborative activities that foster personal and professional growth fuels my soul. I welcome the contrasting waves of uncertainty and unbridled enthusiasm to energize and propel our woman-led fintech startup on a path toward mad success. Bring it on.
How has charitable giving changed in the last 20 years? What are you doing to facilitate that change?
After the attacks on 9/11, I saw a perfect storm on the horizon. Donors demanded more transparency, a greater desire to designate where their contributions go, and the ability to see the impact of their gifts.
Donor behaviors were also evolving. People became motivated more by causes and less by loyalty to specific organizations. As connectivity grows, we respond better to peer suggestions than to traditional marketing methods.
As I consulted nonprofits through the 2008 financial crisis, I saw the need for new ways to better engage donors. With technology, we could counter the dramatic drop in revenues we saw during The Great Recession. This led directly to the creation of the Live Give Save Foundation and our mobile app, spave.
What achievements are you most proud of?
That we are still in business after nearly five years and just now really hitting our stride.
We've created an ecosystem of good to amplify and accelerate the impact of generosity and compassion. We connect consumers, companies, causes, and community, enabling people to play to their strengths, live their purpose, and feel they contributed to making the world better.
For example, when we tested our beta product, we enlisted local organizations to participate. Employees of the Red Wing Shoe Company chose the Red Wing YMCA as their designated charity. We raised and matched nearly $900 and helped send eight disadvantaged kids to summer camp.
How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your mission? What are you doing to compensate?
We were kicking off a fundraising campaign right when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It was kind of a big deal because any funds we raised would be matched by an innovation grant from the State of Minnesota. We use those funds to conduct market research and enhance our technology.
But COVID-19 has just strengthened our resolve to empower people and nonprofits to help themselves and others. We amped up our bench, adding industry experts, skilled technicians, and six rockstar interns.
What's next for Live Give Save?
We will relaunch our app in the App Store this fall, engage bank partners and nonprofits with a national footprint and local presence by year-end. Within five years, we estimate 5 million global users will generate $4 billion in nonprofit contributions.
What can readers do to help?
We invite you to contribute to the Live Give Save Foundation. It helps us make a world of difference at a time when we need it most. All donations will be matched by grant dollars received from the State of Minnesota, doubling the impact of your contribution. Also, please go to spave-app.com and join our mailing list to receive a notification when our next version of spave is released in the App Store.
I want to thank Swyft Filings for their generous contribution to help us help nonprofits recover following the devastating effects of COVID-19. Together, we're making a difference that can change the trajectory of nonprofits and the lives within the communities they serve.
If you’d like Swyft Filings to spotlight your business or nonprofit, please send your story in 500 words or less to [email protected]