Last week, Beijing-based charity fundraising app RiceDonate took on nearly RMB 10 million in an angel investment round (USD 1.5 million) led by Panda Capital, 36Kr reported.
The startup is a fundraising platform for non-profits and features novel incentives designed to get everyday people to contribute to social causes.
Rather than solicit direct donations from individuals, RiceDonate lets users accumulate points by doing things that are seemingly self-beneficial.
This includes waking up early, exercising, answering questions on the platform, and phoning family and friends.
By carrying out one of those four activities, users accumulate Rice—the platform’s virtual currency—which can then be distributed to any one of the social causes listed on the platform. The activities are measured from within the app with features such as a step counter to check your activity levels and a call dashboard where you add people you plan to call regularly.
Once a charitable campaign accumulates enough Rice from its do-good supporters, companies who have enlisted to support that cause match the Rice donations with real cash contributions.
To date, RiceDonate says it has connected over 1,200 charity organizations and NGOs with more than 300 companies and raised over RMB 40 million (USD 6 million) in donations. The platform also has 1.3 million registered members, of whom 100,000 are daily users.
To promote user growth and engagement, the platform emphasizes gamification and communication features. Retention rates in its WeChat mini program sound particularly impressive: The company says 80% of its users stick around for at least for a week, while half of its users return to the platform regularly for a month.
As for its business model, RiceDonate charges management fees of 8-12% for the fundraisers hosted on its platform, though it hopes to reduce these to 3-5% in the future. The company is also experimenting with other revenue streams, including collecting and reselling donated products and e-commerce.
Its WeChat mini program also features an e-commerce store where users can apply their Rice points for discounted purchases on a variety of products, from home goods and appliances to socks, cosmetics, foods and more.
The company is betting that Chinese companies will become more socially-inclined and is placing its hopes in giving corporate social responsibility consulting—including public relations and marketing services—to these organizations.
By providing both sectoral expertise and a platform that matches charities, individuals, and companies, RiceDonate hopes to help private organizations give back to society while earning enough to sustain its own business.
Editor: Nadine Freischlad