Canadians are the third most giving country in the world as $10.6 billion is donated annually – that’s about $446 a person. Tech entrepreneur John Bromley has formulated a new way to allow our benevolent population to manage and amplify their charitable impact with Chimp, a company that has Hootsuite’s CEO, Ryan Holmes fully backing his cause.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
I’m John, I live and breathe charity. I started my career in corporate finance in Montreal but moved back to Vancouver over 10 years ago to focus exclusively on charity, working with my dad (Blake Bromley) – he’s a leading charity lawyer and thought leader in the space. I started building web products to improve donor experience in 2008.
Chimp is a web-based tool that empowers people to manage and amplify charitable impact. And it’s built on a simple idea — to empower people’s personal giving choices and to simplify the process. Chimp reduces the friction involved in making informed donations and is the cheapest way to get money to any charity of your choice in Canada.
2. What makes you unique compared to all other crowd-funding and charity platforms?
At the core of Chimp is the Chimp Account: an online charitable account for individuals. When you deposit money into your account, you receive a tax receipt immediately. That money can then be given away to any charity of your choice or simply saved to give another day.
People are at the center of Chimp and no other charity platform is focused on serving the donor (they mostly serve the charity). We have a crowd-funding feature, called Giving Groups, but it is but one of our many awesome tools. Chimp also has an account built for the giving needs of companies and a different account for charities.
3. How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Chimp?
I’m not very well connected into the start-up community in Vancouver despite knowing a lot of serious business people. Most of my relationships relate to people I’ve met while advising on charity. Not too many start-ups are looking to give money away, although many are interested in baking benevolence into their biz models – something I can help with. However, I’d be happy to plug-in deeper and help develop Vancouver’s startup scene.
4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
Currently, we are growing. It is exciting to bring on new people but it comes with challenges, most of which relate to communication. We are working through that right now by a) talking to each person in our organization and listening to their career ambitions and interest (we are still small enough to do that), and b) co-authoring with them what they will be responsible for in 2014. Being participatory takes more time but I find it leads to higher engagement.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
My experience is that Vancouverites are generous and generally conscious of the environment and world around them. This means people already give. Chimp empowers these Vancouverites to give on their own terms with more confidence so that they can continue to change the world. We even enable them with features to pass on their giving values to others. With Chimp, you can give money for them to give away to the charities they choose.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Most of my mentors are thought leaders in their space not necessarily entrepreneurs (my love of entrepreneurship is born out of subject matter expertise more than pure love of business). But, I’d want to give a shout-out to Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite, who has a strong commitment to Vancouver. He has been generous with his time and has let me bounce questions off him. Hootsuite is also powering our #GiveOn campaign right now.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Seth Rogen. He’s audacious and hilarious, two characteristics I admire, both of which can be well used to “out” some of the bad parts of charity that definitely need disrupting while activating people into giving.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Love feedback. And learn to brave criticism with a calm persona and mindset. As it relates to criticism, try not to be defensive, its usually not worth the time. And you don’t want to end up saying or doing something you will regret later. Instead, become savvy at how to listen for the lessons buried in the criticism.
*End of interview*
People like to give but it’s usually done at random times. Being able to intertwine charity into our everyday life is a very powerful thing. Consistent giving through shaped behaviour is the way of the future for charity and John and his team are at the forefront of it. My team at Tangoo has started to incorporate Chimp into our days by making people donate into our team Giving Group every time they’re late to meeting!
For December, Chimp has teamed up with Hootsuite to run the #GiveOn campaign where any transaction fee incurred will be covered by Hootsuite.
That means 100% of donations will reach Canadian charities this holiday season.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to paul(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit