A Powell couple created this technology startup to help users support their favorite charities while shopping online.

At a moment when online commerce is gathering steam, a Powell couple seeks to help people direct some of their shopping dollars to charity. 

Tina and Bob Fisher are raising money for charitable causes through a for-profit online shopping startup they launched last year. The Powell couple named it Givevia, and it lets users support organizations they care about through purchases from retailers like Target and Home Depot, and even local chains like Homage. A percentage of each sale goes to a nonprofit of the user’s choice. 

“A good way to describe it is a shop-to-give program, automatically generating funding for a nonprofit but baked into the online shopping people are already doing,” Givevia chief marketing officer Justin Showers says. 

The percentage that goes to charity depends on the retailer, but Tina Fisher says it’s typically around 5 percent. Customers don’t pay any more than the list price, she adds. “It’s free for users, and free for nonprofits,” Fisher says. A portion of the purchase price also goes to Givevia; according to Fisher, most retailers consider it a marketing cost. 

The site makes it easy for users to support charities through the shopping they would do anyway, Fisher says, which means it’s ideal for people who want to donate but don’t have much disposable income. 

“This is a tool that empowers people,” she says. 

Hundreds of retailers and nonprofits have already signed on, Showers says. Stores and charities in Central Ohio are on the site, and beneficiaries include the Columbus Museum of Art and the United Way of Central Ohio. 

The Worthington Resource Pantry is also on Givevia. “Tina and Bob Fisher are longtime supporters,” executive director Nick Linkenhoker points out. Tina sat on the board shortly after the organization was founded 11 years ago, and the couple has been donating to the group ever since. “So it was a natural fit, when they came up with this idea, to include the resource pantry as an early adopter.” 

The Worthington nonprofit acts as a food pantry, providing groceries and personal care items to needy families, but Linkenhoker says the organization goes beyond that with some clients. “We’re here to connect our community and connect our neighbors to community resources,” such as social service organizations, Linkenhoker says. 

After signing on with Givevia, the pantry started to see donations come in through the platform, and “it didn’t cost us a thing,” Linkenhoker says. The organization planned to market its participation on Givevia to encourage people to shop there, but the coronavirus pandemic threw that plan into disarray, he says. “All of our focus shifted to responding to that.” 

But the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic makes donating to nonprofits like the resource pantry more important than ever, Tina Fisher says. “Online shopping is surging like never before, in part because of COVID-19,” she says. “That makes it even more important for those shopping dollars to do more.”

Reprinted from Giving: A Guide to Philanthropy 2021.