'the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open' shortlist


Dear members and fans, DonationMatch made it to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open shortlist!

What does this mean? The Sustainable Brands Conference, happening June 2-5, 2014 in San Diego, educates business leaders about how they can contribute to a more sustainable brand. It also promotes business solutions that can help companies play a more positive role in the lives of their stakeholders. We need the chance to share with their over 1000 attendees, including executives of many of the largest brands in the U.S., how our win-win platform streamlines putting product samples into the hands of event attendees, and that YOUR school and nonprofit events are the most effective targets for them, both socially and demographically.

We need your vote at sbio.co/vote before Friday, March 28th, 5 PM PST. Please help us continue to grow DonationMatch and attracting brands to your valuable audiences. Thank you SO much for your support!

Sustainable Brands

NAWBO San Diego Presents DonationMatch Founder with BRAVO! Trailblazer Award


The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in San Diego hosted the BRAVO! Awards on May 22nd to celebrate the accomplishments of women entrepreneurs throughout the region. Our founder, Renee Zau, was given the Trailblazer Award for her innovative work connecting the cause marketing and nonprofit fundraising industries.

5 Minutes with DonationMatch Co-Founder Renee Zau

DonationMatch Co-founders Darryl and Renee

By Juliet Davenport, Nonprofit Ambassador at DonationMatch

When was the last time you experienced a pain and decided to devote your full-time effort to solving it? Co-founder Renee Zau became an accidental web entrepreneur when she wished for a product like DonationMatch and waited several years for "someone else to build it so I could be a customer." When that didn't happen, she and boyfriend Darryl took what they learned working for a VC-backed startup where they met, their savings, and advice from smart friends to get accepted into and graduate from the Founder Institute (a tech startup accelerator), which propelled DonationMatch into the premiere platform for reaching consumers through charitable events.

Here's what we learned in 5 minutes with Renee!

How did you come up with the idea for DonationMatch?

Inefficiency bothers me. I hated seeing myself and other wasting time typing the same information from the same donors over and over again for fundraising auctions. I also experienced the pain of not having an easy way to collect and track the requests my business was receiving. All the paperwork being mailed back and forth seemed wasteful, and I wanted a centralized place for both donors (companies) and receivers (nonprofits) to not just manage donation records, but make requests and seamlessly transfer necessary information easily. I waited four years before Darryl caught on to how frustrated I was and realized I wasn't alone in needing a solution.

What do you think charities can learn from the private sector?

I know that the ultimate goal of a charity isn’t to make money, but I think many fail to invest in practices early on that will help them become financially self-sustainable. When a charity can’t focus on its mission because it needs money and has to constantly fundraise, it ultimately hurts its ability to do good work. Just like a startup for-profit, I’d like to see nonprofits:

  • Strive for long-term financial viability with an aligned business model,
  • Identify whether their mission is unique and necessary (as opposed to initiating a project within an existing organization), and
  • Plan for a bootstrapped success model based on partnerships and leveraging the help of others, in case funding doesn’t come easily.

Where would you like to be in 5 years?

In five years I’d like to be able to sign on to DonationMatch as a fundraising event chair in the U.S. or Canada, input my event details, and be able to fill my silent auction, opportunity drawings, and gift bags in an hour while having fun. This would be possible because of smart tools we're building into DonationMatch that help companies and brands want to donate goods because it's easy, cost-effective, and profitable. I can't wait for this day!

What is your weakness?

There’s always room for dessert. Even for breakfast.

What is another question you would like to ask Renee?

Why The Founder Institute?


By Darryl Rettig and Renee Zau, Co-founders, DonationMatch Pretty much everyone is familiar with the movie The Karate Kid. The short story is that the protagonist, Daniel, was new to an area and was bullied by a bunch a local kids while trying to win the heart of a girl. Into his life steps a handyman, Mr. Miyagi. He instructs Daniel to wash and wax his car, then paint various items around his house. Daniel doesn't see how these tasks relate to effectively fighting back, but does them reluctantly. At a critical point in the movie, Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel that the tasks he performed were actually practice in disguise, not a waste of time. He was being taught the necessary tools of success.

Going through Founder Institute often reminded us of The Karate Kid. Our mentors and our facilitator Jeanine Jacobson played the role of Mr. Miyagi; and we (Darryl and Renee, co-founders of DonationMatch) were Daniel. Every week we had presentations to watch, pitches to give, and about 30 hours of homework. While reviewing the homework assignments we'd say to each other: "Don’t we already know this?" "How does all this busy work help us?" And sometimes, "This doesn’t apply to our situation." But while completing each assignment, we inevitably would discover some critical bit of information that could increase our chances of success. Every task had a valid takeaway, and we learned that some of our assumptions were completely wrong. Whether it was from interviewing our customers, completing a financial model, or meeting one-on-one with mentors, we made improvements that likely would never have happened, or would have come too late for our long term success.

In the end, with the tools taught at FI, DonationMatch will be a better product for our customers, a stronger organization financially, and ultimately a more successful company. As we apply these principles going forward, we certainly won’t have all the answers, but we at least we’ll have a better idea of the questions to ask. This is not only a win for us, it's a win for our customers.


What's Happening: DonationMatch Behind the Scenes

By Renee Zau, Co-founder, DonationMatch [Updated 2/24/14: We are in the process of creating a new poster, as we have now surpassed getting $2.69 Million in goods to 1,000+ schools and nonprofit events. Learn more about receiving these benefits for the organization your support at DonationMatch.com}

If you didn't know, we at DonationMatch are known as a bootstrapped startup. This means we are self-funded, a fairly new company, and believe SO MUCH in the need for our tools and solutions that we currently work for no pay. Our mission classifies us a social enterprise. We've also been called disruptive (not good if you're a student, but great in business) because we're making non-cash marketing easily available to any size business and bringing non-cash donation procurement for nonprofit events online.

We've been a 1.5-person show for almost two years. Starting on Monday, October 15th, it will be two (both) of us working on DonationMatch full-time, and we're as excited as can be!

How's it going so far? We measure our success by the value we bring to our DonationMatch members and our total impact. Take a look and tell us what you think:

"It's a no-brainer."

"This is an amazing tool to get your business out there."

"We have had so many donation matches already. Every single one achieved so quickly and at the mere click of a button."

"Our name, our brand and our products have been introduced to 1000’s of potential customers that may have never known we existed. And... we barely lifted a finger!”

What are our next steps? In a nutshell: getting down to business and learning. Figuring out what features make the most difference to you. What problems can we solve? What can we improve? How do you make your decisions? What companies (small, big, and in-between) do you want to refer to DonationMatch? We'd also love to expand beyond the San Diego market. Members, look for your phones to ring!

So, if you notice it getting quiet for a while on this blog, it's because we're focused on improving your experience and results. But please call or email us if you want to talk - we're here to listen and learn from you. And  be sure to look for new members the next time you're on DonationMatch--we love seeing new win-win exchanges happening!