We spoke to John Bromley, Founder and CEO of Charitable Impact, a Vancouver-based FinTech which allows you to manage all of your charitable giving in one place.
Can we start by asking a bit about your background and the work you are doing with Charitable Impact?
I started my career in corporate finance, working with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and RBC Capital Markets (a Canadian bank) before working with my father for many years. I started Charitable Impact after that.
My engagement in charity originates from growing up in a family that modeled and taught giving. So the mindset and worldview I have for giving was shaped well before I started learning about the “charity sector.” It was getting later in my twenties when I started working with my dad, who was a charity lawyer. That’s when I learned about how to architect and facilitate charitable projects.
It became apparent that the charity sector provided very little in terms of objective support for donors. And giving was not well incorporated into the transactional economy. So we started Charitable Impact to make it easier for donors to manage their charitable giving, regardless of what causes they care about or how much money they have. We think it’s important in part because wanting to help others comes naturally, but knowing how to make a difference through charitable giving does not.
We built Charitable Impact as a technological platform so it could be made accessible to anyone.
Obviously, life is very difficult currently for a lot of organizations, what is Charitable Impact doing to navigate their way successfully through the crisis?
Charitable Impact exists to help people create the change they want to see in the world. In our particular case, the COVID-19 crisis has only made our sense of purpose stronger.
On the one hand, we are calling people to act by committing to charitable giving, particularly by making a recurring donation into their Impact Account. Even if you don’t know exactly where to give, you can still put money aside as you look for the charities most aligned to the change you want to make.
It can take time and experience to find charities that give you confidence. That’s why we launched #ChooseYourImpact, a program connecting Canadian donors to knowledgeable and passionate changemakers who select charities on a causal basis that are offering outsized Impact on those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
So far, the response has been staggering. Charities responding to the pandemic crisis have seen a 402% increase in donations since January 2020. Currently, there are over 80 charities on our platform that have pivoted to address COVID-19 relief efforts, and people and organizations have created dozens of Giving Groups to fundraise towards citizen lead initiatives.
And what advice would you give to other FinTech organizations?
If you have a clear mission, vision, and purpose, lean into it even more deeply. If your mission, vision, and purpose don’t exist or are unclear, start there. When storms like COVID-19 come, it’s even more critical to have confidence in who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
In our case, we offer the tech-based resources and support necessary for people to carry out their giving. That doesn’t change because of COVID. It becomes more critical. Now is the time for people to think about their relationship to charitable giving, how they can create change in the community around them, and how that impacts them.
And would you have any other advice for FinTech companies looking to grow after this is all over?
Spend serious time thinking about whether you and your company need to show up differently as the situation tied to COVID-19 continues to evolve. Refine the focus of your service offering around your biggest strengths and go for it. COVID-19 will accelerate the importance of FinTech.
Finally, tell us 3 things you have done across your career, which others may not have done, in order to recruit the best talent for your teams?
It wasn’t part of my plan to become an entrepreneur. As a result, I’m interested in how life experience shapes people. When learning about another person’s background, it can be easy to focus on what most obviously relates to Charitable Impact. But knowing how much some of my more unique experiences shaped me, I try to learn more about what led them to potentially work with us.
Charitable Impact is very purpose-focused, so it’s crucial to encourage dialogue about our mission, vision, values, and beliefs. I like to have open conversations around these ideas. It’s a great way to inspire people to think about donor’s challenges and issues facing the charitable sector in Canada while sharing how our platform adds value. It also helps to accelerate how quickly you can get to know someone!
What I believe is most important to determine with any candidate is whether they can achieve their own goals —listening to what people want to accomplish and why it’s essential. I always look for team members who are bringing a vision for their career into Charitable Impact, people who will grow with our company.