Local online venture links community to nonprofits

April 11, 2014
By

A Jamaica Plain-based online fundraising platform called Social Seam has been created to link local nonprofits, donors and businesses.

“The goal is for Social Seam to become a useful tool for communities,” Jason Baguio, the website creator, said in an email to the Gazette. “That it helps members and supporters of a community to connect for the purpose of making their community stronger.”

Nonprofits sign up for the platform, and once approved, supporters can donate directly to them via their profiles on the website. Supporters can also create fundraisers for the nonprofits, which have to approve them. The donations from the fundraisers go directly to the nonprofits.

Local businesses have the ability to get involved by picking a nonprofit they wish to support and then offering rewards, such as a coupon, when somebody donates, said Baguio. Some organizations and businesses who already joined Social Seam include the Franklin Park Coalition and City Feed and Supply.

Social Seam charges no fees on any of the transactions.

“We do not take money from the nonprofit or the business or the donation. We are surviving off of investment,” Baguio said. The site’s credit card processing vendor does charge a fee, which Social Seam is attempting to reduce or eliminate, he said.

Baguio said he developed the idea for Social Seam when he discovered his sister had a brain tumor, which she eventually survived. Baguio said he thought about creating a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for his sister’s treatment, but said she had concerns over transparency—how donor knows where the money goes—and the cost of donating. He said with Social Seam, a donor sees exactly where the money goes and receives a reward after donating.

He said the idea has been in the works for about two years with the site operating for about three weeks.

“We began with a private fundraiser for the Community Arts Advocates,” said Baguio. “Currently, we are running [test campaigns] with the Franklin Park Coalition and the Community Arts Advocates. In May, we begin a campaign with Centre/South Main Streets.”

He said he plans to expand Social Seam to Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and other cities throughout the country later this spring and early summer.

“Over the course of the next year we will open the platform for businesses to raise money, say if the heating needs to be replaced,” said Baguio. “After that, we will make it possible for people to raise money for tuition and student debt. Then we will make it possible for people to raise money for personal medical [expenses]. After that, we will see what the users ask for.”

For more information, visit socialseam.org.