Thon Morse, an Internet entrepreneur and a onetime national account manager at Convio, started working on Kimbia in 2007 with a single purpose in mind: Become a fundraising option in a market where online fundraising software can be very expensive.
"When I looked at the market, I saw two problems," Morse wrote in an e-mail. "Entry level customers couldn't really play. There were affordable solutions but they were made affordable by being extremely limited. The larger packages are just too expensive and complex so entry level customers were left out of the game. I think that every local non-profit should have all the same fundraising capabilities as a big Komen event."
Kimbia officially opened for business in 2008 as a platform for distributed fundraising and event management for political campaigns, advocacy organizations and nonprofits. Prior to its public release, says Morse, it saw brief use by Fred Thompson's and Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaigns. The Republican National Committee started using it in 2008, along with, in his words, a "normal mix" of other fundraising organizations.
Politically agnostic, the firm caters to nonprofits, campaigns and organizations.
"We adopted the tagline as 'giving power,'" says Spencer Whelan, Kimbia's marketing director.
Whelan also says fundraising isn't all that Kimbia does. The company's focus is on creating ways for a nonprofit or an advocacy organization to create a message, or a call to action, and spread it across the social web like flyers around a small town. It is, in other words, a company that seeks to create "go-viral" machines.
"We've had lots of organizations get a whole bunch of money and they don't know where it's coming from and they look back at their reports and find that some random person grabbed the form and put it on their site," Whelan says.
The software allows an organization to see whose forms are raising the most money and to track traffic to their fundraising and other Kimbia campaigns in real-time, manage all campaigns and forms from a web-based dashboard, and generate reports on that data. But it isn't a CRM; Kimbia can't manage your e-mail lists, for instance. Whelan says Kimbia can interface directly with SalesForce, and customers have had the company help them build reports that their CRMs can import. Whelan says Kimbia has helped write an integration into CRMs for other clients.
Kimbia forms can be styled using CSS stylesheets, and will work on Webkit-enabled mobile phones, says Whelan.
The platform doesn't handle the money, Whelan says: The easiest way to think of it is as something that passes information from the donor to whomever the organization is using to process payments, such as Authorize.net. The tradeoff to this approach is that the organization will need to set up a merchant account, but will have its own name show up on the donor's credit card statement and has more control over the donation.
Down the line, Whelan says, the company expects to enhance Kimbia's ability to work on mobile phones.
Marco Rubio, a Republican Senate candidate in a 2010 Florida election, hired the David All Group, who created a Kimbia fundraising widget for his campaign. The widget was placed on RedState.com, a popular conservative blog, allowing people who were reading about Rubio to take another step and send him money. RedState set a goal to raise $5,000 in one day in May 2009, which they quickly met, and went on to raise $11,885 in total, according to the numbers on the widget.
Five percent of all donations, billed after the fact. Additional models exist for organizations committing to raising a certain amount per year, for example.
WGBH Boston (during pledge drives; many large PBS stations use the company); KLRU (PBS Austin); Nation's Triathlon; Dallas Turkey Trot