How Lizzy Hayashida is using Change Donations to help charities and non-profits fundraise.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lizzy Hayashida: As well as we can be. I’m from California, so it’s been really hard to be away from my family so far from home for such a long time, but I actually got engaged during the lockdown, so it was nice to have some happy news in these difficult times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Change Donations.
Lizzy Hayashida: Prior to co-founding Change Donations, I spent 8 years working with startups in both retail and fintech, San Francisco and New York. My startup career started when I joined Milo.com, a local product search company that was later acquired by eBay. After the acquisition, I went on to launch the first same-day delivery pilot, eBay Now. During my time at eBay, I had the opportunity to work with many large fashion retailers, which piqued my interest in the fashion space. I left eBay to join an early-stage Y Combinator startup, Shoptiques, a fashion startup. Soon after, I was recruited back to San Francisco to lead the Fashion strategy at Affirm, where I launched the first in-store virtual debit card. It was here that I saw, first hand, the positive impact fintech can have on people’s lives. I think it was really serendipitous that I ended up meeting my co-founder, Will, soon after.
In 2017, I decided I wanted to go back to school to get my MBA. I had always been interested in founding a company of my own, so when I was evaluating potential colleges, Trinity quickly became my top choice, as it was named the most entrepreneurial university in Europe. It was here that I met my co-founder, William Conaghan (Forbes 30 under 30). Change Donations actually started as a college project. We were both really passionate about building something that had a positive impact on society, so when we started our initial research, we were focused on finding a problem that we believe we could help solve.
Since founding Change Donations, we have won many awards, including Futurescope, Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur (Lizzy), Forbes 30 under 30 (Will), Top Women in Fintech.
How does Change Donations innovate?
Lizzy Hayashida: Change Donations helps charities and non-profits fundraise in the digital age and connect with tomorrow’s generation of donors. Their platform allows donors to link their credit or debit cards, round their purchases up to the next euro, and donate their digital spare change to the causes they care about most. They are building a community of everyday philanthropists and helping individuals inspire positive change through their everyday spending.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Lizzy Hayashida: The pandemic has forced the world to quickly move cashless, which has rendered collection buckets at the till obsolete. On top of this, yearly fundraising events have had to be cancelled or moved online, and many charities are faced with a deficit. We’re fortunate to be in a position to be able to help charities fundraise in these conditions as we are set up to help donors make giving a part of their every day lives. Donors set up round-ups once and begin rounding up their daily purchases to support the cause or cause they care about most, providing much-needed support to the organizations that mean the most to them.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Lizzy Hayashida: We’re a small team, so strategic hiring is incredibly important and tough to get right. We’ve worked hard to build the team we have today, and we definitely learned a lot getting to this point.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Lizzy Hayashida: partner relationships are constantly evolving. We’re a B2B2C platform – this means that we partner with charities and non-profits to give their donors a new way to support them. As digital spare change donations are a new way of giving, this means that we have to provide our partners (the charities) with educational materials that they can provide to their donors. We’re also constantly working with our partners on new and innovative ways to talk about digital spare change and how to show donors the impact they can have just by rounding up their daily purchases.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Lizzy Hayashida: Yes. In the early days, we were supported by the Dublin City LEO. We have now graduated from the LEO and are supported by Enterprise Ireland. We are HPSU clients and have also received support from their COVID grant as well as Innovation Vouchers.
Your final thoughts?
Lizzy Hayashida: We believe that it’s not about how much you give; it’s about giving what you can to those in need.