Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed GiveSendGo co-founder Jacob Wells to the newsmaker line to discuss the Christian crowdfunding platform, its tremendous growth, and the government’s efforts to monitor small donations.
Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line right now, Jacob Wells. He’s the co-founder of GiveSendGo.com. That’s givesendgo.com. Welcome, Jacob. Tell us why you started GiveSendGo.
Wells: Hey, Michael, thanks for having me on. GiveSendGo started back in 2014. Myself and a couple of siblings said, man, there are some great platforms that are emerging in this new space called crowdfunding where people can come together and raise money for material needs that people have as they navigate through life.
We looked at the situation and everyone that we knew using some of these platforms, and they said, there’s to more life than just money. And some things money can help in this material world, but there are intangibles that money can’t help. We want to create a platform that actually brings some hope to people in hopeless situations.
We came at it from a faith perspective and built a real community around it. So we started the journey back in 2014 and launched in 2016, and have now just grown tremendously around the world, but a platform that shares hope with people as they go through difficult life events.
Leahy: Jacob, where are you and your family from?
Wells: I actually was born and raised in New Hampshire, southern New Hampshire. I am number five of 12 kids – six boys and six girls – and myself and two sisters started this.
Leahy: And you’re still up in New Hampshire?
Wells: Actually, outside of Boston right now is where we are.
Leahy: A great part of the country to be from. Tell me, what is the difference between GiveSendGo.com and GoFundMe?
Wells: Right. A glaring difference is we don’t censor people based on ideological beliefs.
Leahy: That’s just terrible, Jacob, how could you possibly not censor people? Aren’t you a master of the universe like all the folks at Facebook and Google and all those Lefty Big-Tech people?
Wells: They want us to be. You should see the phone calls that we get pushing us to monitor misinformation and the like, and we just push back.
We live in a country where the best place for people to be is where they’re responsible for their own actions, not other people for them.
Leahy: Hold on. You get calls from Lefties who want you to be, like, authoritarian control types?
Wells: We’ve got it all the way from the U.S. government wanting to engage with us on our policies around various things.
Leahy: Who from the government calls you and what do they say?
Wells: It’s very friendly and inviting, but let’s have a conversation around fundraising mechanisms. And this happened probably a year ago that we got a call from, what department was it? I’m blanking on it right now.
Leahy: They’re all about the same. Fill in the blank.
Wells: Right. And it was all about, hey, we want to make sure transfer of funds to terrorists, things like this, we want to monitor $15, $20, $30 transactions, and all those safeguards are already in place. But two months later, the U.S. government seeded $50 billion of assets in Afghanistan to the Taliban.
I mean, the hypocrisy of the government calling us, wanting to micromanage $20 and $50 payments to people when they themselves completely turned over billions of dollars to terrorist organizations overseas.
Leahy: Jacob, all-star panelist Aaron Gulbransen is in-studio. Aaron has a question for you.
Gulbransen: How are you, sir? This is Aaron Gulbransen. My question is, what would be some of the top five most successful crowdfunding projects that have been utilizing your platform?
Wells: That’s a great question. You probably saw one of them not too long ago in the news, the trucker campaign in Ottawa after GoFundMe decided to pull the plug on their ability to fundraise for the peaceful protest that they had going on there, they quickly switched to GiveSendGo and raised close to $13 million in just a couple of days for that campaign.
We’ve had numerous approach to the $1 million mark. And another one that you’re probably familiar with is Kyle Rittenhouse, about two years ago, where he was cut off from every attempt at having a voice about his situation and raising funds for a legal defense.
We allowed this campaign and they raised a nearly a million dollars. And there’s a lot that are less political, where it’s just people raising money for medical bills and the disaster that has struck. And hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised.
Leahy: Are you, as a business, GiveSendGo.com, are you profitable?
Wells: Yes, and it’s an amazing thing. We took a step of faith – when we launched, all the platforms out there were charging five percent. So their fee was, as a platform, if you give $100 to somebody, the platform would take $5 out of that and the person receiving would receive $92 after the payment was processed.
And we said, it doesn’t make sense to take money from people that are raising money because they need it. Why don’t we ask people that have money to give us just to give a little bit extra?
And so we went down this path of just a generosity model, asking people, giving people the opportunity to give a little bit extra to GiveSendGo. And it’s worked.
Our platform operates on generosity and we’ve grown tremendously over the years. And that model has been successful for us and has now allowed us to expand into 85 countries and grow our team to over 40 people now. So it’s been an amazing job.
Leahy: So you have 40 people in your company. Are they all up there just north of Boston, or where do they live right now?
Wells: It’s a great question because of the function of the Internet and being an online platform, everybody’s remote at this time. My sister Heather, who co-founded with me, she’s on the eastern shore of Maryland and there are a bunch of employees around here.
Everyone works remotely. And then likewise up around me, there’s a lot of employees, and then scattered throughout the U.S. we have people, and some overseas as well.
Leahy: What’s the biggest problem that you have at GiveSendGo.com?
Wells: That’s another great question. As we navigate this moment in culture, it’s really recognizing the potential threats that are out there to businesses that are like ours, that say, hey, we’re going to give people the right to make decisions about how they live their lives.
Right now, it’s building the redundancies in place for all of our systems, making sure that they’re up to speed. Technology is always a moving target, as far as security and vulnerability, so, bringing in even outside contractors and experts to help continue to build our infrastructure.
So all of these are good problems to have, because they come with growth, but they are big problems. How do we build ourselves to be, not the Parler or whatever the term is – not the Parler.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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