Donor-matching app Given becomes Grateful and eyes expansion

A Des Moines-based app dedicated to connecting nonprofits to donors is rebranding as the team begins work to expand connections outside of Iowa. 

Beginning this month, the Given platform is rebranding to Grateful — a new name that reflects the emotions donors report when they choose to give to local nonprofits, said founder Matt Ostanik. 

“A consistent theme that we were hearing from many people was a sense of gratitude and a sense of gratefulness that comes up when you ask people why they choose to give,” Ostanik said.

First established by Ostanik in 2017, Grateful now has a “founding” team of 20 members, most of whom work on the platform remotely with Ostanik as a side project. The company is a B Corporation, rather than a nonprofit, to avoid competing for funds from the nonprofits it raises funds for. 

Grateful launched the first version of the platform in 2019, and later that year launched “giving cards” that companies can charge and give to an individual, who in turn can designate a nonprofit of their choice to receive the funds on the card. Last year, founding members helped Ostanik rebuild the entire platform, allowing it to be hosted on a web browser as well as mobile apps. 

Grateful piloted the giving cards with six metro-area businesses beginning at the end of 2019, and the feature has quickly grown into a main attraction for the platform, Ostanik said. 

“Virtual giving cards are a way for companies … to say ‘thank you’ to others they care about. It could be a thank-you to their employees, thank-you to their customers or to other people they have relationships with,” Ostanik said. “That’s what’s fueling a lot of growth now.” 

Working with Grateful, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines launched an updated version of its existing giveDSM web platform in November to incorporate Grateful features, including the giving cards. In a December campaign, users who donated $31 that month watched $1 go to a different nonprofit highlighted by Grateful through videos on the platform. 

The app initially highlighted Des Moines metro nonprofits and has plans to add nonprofits nationally through a database of all 2 million U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations, beginning in the next few months. In the long term, Grateful could expand its features to coordinating volunteer time or in-kind goods and services donations — “that’s top of mind for us as we continue through 2021,” Ostanik said. 

“We’ve heard great feedback from users and nonprofits in the Des Moines community. Taking what we’ve learned here and scaling that nationwide [is] our big goal for 2021,” he added. “Providing an additional tool like this app and virtual giving cards fits really well with a lot of groups that are looking for ways to take action, give back and do more.”