Every year hundreds of thousands of nonprofits scrounge for donations just to keep the lights on. Santa Monica-based startup Kindest Inc. is working to develop a platform to make that process a little smoother.

The company is the developer of software that streamlines fundraising campaigns for nonprofits, creating donation pages, contacting potential donors about specific campaigns and allowing organizations to keep those who have donated in the loop about the progress of campaigns they’ve supported.


Kindest co-founder and Chief Executive David Semerad said the company was born out of the frustration he and co-founder Holly McKay felt trying to contribute to a fundraiser being carried out through a clunky and outdated donation platform.


“The process was really lengthy,” Semerad said. “We talked about creating a better experience for donors.”


Semerad said they quickly realized this meant more than building a simpler payment system.


“When you give, you want to feel good about it,” he said. “It’s like a transaction.”


Semerad, McKay and fellow co-founder Martin Stava, all veterans of software design firm STRV Inc., launched Kindest in 2018. Semerad says they focused on developing a product that would handle multiple aspects of a fundraising campaign, ensuring that donors would be able to easily access information about organizations, make contributions quickly through a variety of payment systems, and receive an automated reply from organizations confirming the payment and thanking them for their donation.


According to the company, it facilitated nearly $6 million in donations through its platform in 2020 while signing up more than 2,000 users.  


Kindest has also done some fundraising of its own. Last year the company raised $2.25 million in a seed funding round that left Kindest with a $6.25 million valuation, according to PitchBook Data Inc.


Semerad said the company is preparing for a Series A funding round and is working on building partnerships with more nonprofits in order to facilitate more donations.


One of the appeals for organizations raising money with the platform is that Kindest doesn’t collect a cut of incoming donations. Instead, the company primarily makes money through tips from donors.


Semerad said the amount of money donors are likely to tip has proven to be relatively predictable, and collecting revenue this way drives more organizations to the platform.


“If we want to be successful as a platform, we need to make our clients successful,” he said. “That’s really good motivation.”

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