INNOVATION CASE STUDY – CLASSY
CASE STUDY: WHAT ARE THE INNOVATION OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR CLASSY?
Classy is a web-based crowdfunding platform for non-profit groups and charitable causes. The idea was
first conceived of in 2006 when co-founder and CEO, Scot Chisholm, organised a charity fundraising pub
crawl with some friends, and they recognised that not-for-profit organisations were missing an
opportunity to make better use of technology to raise funds. After several years of developing technology
solutions to fundraise for their own events, they launched Classy in 2011.
Describing itself as a both a technology company and an online crowdsourcing service, Classy is open to
any not-for-profit organisations “to help them solve social problems faster”. Since 2011, Classy has
grown to 130 employees, raising more than $100 million for over 300,000 campaigns and contributing to
more than 1,500 non-profit organisations. It is now claims to be the world’s largest and fastest-growing
fundraising platform for social good organisations.
Classy is tapping into a section of a much broader crowdfunding trend. The overall global crowdfunding
market is experiencing fast expansion, growing by more than 1,000% between 2009 and 2014, to reach
almost $10 billion; and the World Bank predicts the that the market could grow to reach $90 billion in the
next ten years.
Classy also aims to meet the needs of individual and institutional investors and philanthropists who are
increasingly seeking to fund socially responsible organisations and causes: the technology enables these
donors to connect more easily, rapidly and closely with the institutions and causes that they are funding.
From the perspective of the not-for-profit organisations, these trends are helping to provide greater
opportunities to access capital, than ever before. Crowdfunding platforms are able to help them create
campaigns, raise funds, manage events, and communicate and engage with their donors in a very personal
way. Yet Classy believes that still only 10% of the funds raised by US not-for-profit organisations are
Perhaps unsurprising, given the potential demand, Classy is not alone as a crowdfunding platform in the
not-for-profit market, with GoFundMe, GlobalGiving, Sparked, DirectGiving, JustGiving and Kiva to
name just a few competitors; as well as Kickstarter and other mainstream platforms.
To help manage its growth, in July 2015, Classy raised $18 million and hired a new CTO. Since then,
GoFundMe has raised $600 million and they are now claiming the “world’s #1 fundraising site”.
SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What, if anything, is innovative about Classy?
How sustainable is Classy’s operating model?
Has Classy been disruptive?
Does Classy have any competitive advantage?
What technical solutions could Classy use to maintain the growth their business?