Startup helps school fundraisers
By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
March 14, 2012 · Updated 11:09 AM
As schools continue to see decreasing budgets, their attention often turns to fundraising through bake sales and magazine drives. Now a local online startup has stepped in to help them do better.
MyCommunityPlace has worked with schools and nonprofits since September to create a modern, technological fundraising mechanism that doesn’t require pushing and prodding the potential donor.
Founded by colleagues – and parents – Ed Wen and Ahmad Aqqad, the company pairs customers with large national retailers to send a portion of sales to schools and other nonprofit organizations.
“If you think about why you donate money, you only want to donate when you know you can make a difference and believe in the cause,” Wen said. “The more transparent it is, the more motivated it makes you to respond to the cause.”
At myCommunityPlace, users are directed to a number of national retailers. When customers make a purchase, a percentage of the money is donated to one of several organizations chosen by the customer.
The service is free for shoppers, and prices do not change as a result. Companies make the contributions and pay fees to work with myCommunityPlace.
With nearly six months under their belts, Wen and Aqqad are expanding from national retailers like AT&T, down to the local level. For these businesses, the program will not only help them became a greater fixture within their communities, but also will help get their names out there.
“This is the only company in my career where I can say when the company is successful, the community is successful,” Wen said.
For much of his life, Wen has wanted to help the little guy. As a former employee of a large digital marketing firm, Wen enjoys the small business aspect. And, as a 20-year Bellevue resident, he has grown to root for local business.
MyCommunityPlace employs 14 people, spread throughout the area, with a couple in California. The company’s small office remains under construction. Wen’s office is bare, with no chairs, and only standing desks. One of the walls has been converted entirely into a whiteboard, with which Wen illustrates his points during meetings.
For schools and nonprofits, the service has already made a difference. Just a few weeks after the company’s launch, it sponsored the state Parent Teacher Association Convention. After a presentation, Wen met with representatives from Phantom Lake Elementary. They enlisted the company to help raise $250 for a dinner theater auction fundraiser, said Annette Screws, vice president of fundraising for Phantom Lake PTA. The group was able to meet its goal in less than two months.
“MyCommunityPlace is so much easier and more profitable for our PTA than other redemption programs,” Screws said. “Ease of use is so critical to our success and one of the many reasons we love myCommunityPlace.”
1200 112th Ave. NE, Suite C245, Bellevue
MyCommunityPlace.com/Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at email@example.com or 425-453-4290.