Fred Doss and Joan Overlock



Fred Doss and Joan Overlock are the co-founders of goodcircle, a new  fundraising platform. They spoke about their organization and a few projects they are involved in. 

So what is good circle, and how does it work? 

J: We launched the site a year ago, and it is a fundraising platform that connects nonprofits to businesses. We reach out to businesses and nonprofits and pair them up. We come up with strategic pairings, if you will, and try to find combinations that make sense.

F: One example is a project we did with Fighting Chance. We contacted leadership there to see if they had one particular project they needed help with and they said a huge benefit to their clients would be a way for them to get to New York City for medical treatment at reduced or no cost.

J: He told us what we needed and immediately we thought of the Jitney. We created a prototype project and had a meeting with people from the Jitney. If a Jitney ticket cost $30, we asked what kind of a break or a discount could he give and decided we were going to crowdfund for the difference. We knew by doing that we could get more tickets for Fighting Chance, could engage customers in doing it. It’s more than just writing a check. He sold us the tickets for $10 each, and Fighting Chance got in touch with their network, and the Jitney told their users. Once this all happened, the project was funded very quickly. By the time we ended it we had 552 rides. People just really stepped up. The interesting thing was that more than 55 percent of the donors were customers of the Jitney. The Jitney got a lot of good feedback from their customers and employees and Fighting Chance got a whole new list of people who were suddenly aware of them.

What are you doing for the i-Tri program?

J: We’re actually partnering up with the Jitney again—it’s a good formula. One of the most important parts of i-Tri is training, and getting the girls properly trained. There are two components to training, one is that you have to get them to and from training, and that’s where the Jitney’s stepping up again. The Jitney’s donating the transportation costs, which are a lot, because you’re talking about four towns and 72 girls. That’s a $13,000 cost the Jitney is donating. The other part of the cost is paying professional trainers. Some of these girls have never been on a bike before, some are not great swimmers and let’s face it, we all need to be told how to run properly. That’s $14,500. And so Paddlers For Humanity (which was actually co-founded by Fred, he’s too modest) has generously agreed to match dollar for dollar the money for the trainers. So what that means is that we’re crowdfunding from individuals $7,200. What we have left to fund is $4,600. We’re so close to our goal.

Why do you think it’s a successful model?

J: Fred was an executive director of a nonprofit for years and he really knows that world. My background is in marketing and advertising and one of the most intriguing trends has been the growth of cause marketing People who execute strategically aligned projects have had tremendous brand loyalty. We knew there was a need, knew there was this other tool out there. Virtually every business out here gives, but they’re giving in ways where no one knows about it. The thing that’s really interesting is that we’re in a period of real customer dominance—especially millennials. Studies show 90 percent of millenials make purchasing decisions based on the social responsibility of the company. It’s really critical, and it’s exciting because there’s a real focus and a real demand for it. And it’s being driven by two groups: moms and millennials.

F: Many brands are doing this thing, brands like Essie and Uber and Toms and Warby Parker. But it’s not just a trend. It’s a movement.

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