Millie: Sharing Is Caring
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” - Maya Angelou
Rachel Klausner wanted to create a way to make people more involved in giving and more thoughtful of their donations; thus, Millie was born.
The platform is designed to make charitable donations fun and accessible, and to create a workplace culture that encourages these activities. Ultimately, Millie’s goal is to have a big effect on how people engage with giving, and consequently make a significant impact on the world in the most positive way.
Millie was originally designed for millennials to consider their charitable giving more. Unlike older generations, millennials mainly donate through their peers, yet this platform can make it easy for them to be more considerate of their contributions.
Stick around to uncover the story of Millie, the ultimate platform that keeps on giving.
Raised Right: Encouraging a Charitable Spirit
Today, Rachel is the Founder and CEO of Millie, the successful giving platform. It should be of little surprise to hear that she’s carried both an entrepreneurial and giving spirit her entire life.
She’s had a knack for building products and communities for a long time. At 17, she was part of the building of a day camp. It started with her and her friends playing basketball and grew to 80 campers and 14 staff members in 7 years.
Not only was Rachel’s entrepreneurship obvious from a young age, but it was her generous nature that won people’s hearts. She credits her parents and Jewish upbringing for fostering a culture of giving that’s surrounded Rachel her whole life.
After finishing high school, young Rachel dedicated a good part of a year to volunteering in a youth village in Israel called Yemin Orde. The young lady spent her days there working on grant proposals, giving tours, and counseling immigrant teens.
Today, Rachel’s back on the other side of the world and lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children. However, all of these early life adventures and endeavors remain a perfect encapsulation of Rachel’s personality and clearly represent her past, present, and future.
A Helping Hand Like No Other
After a few months of volunteering, in 2008, Rachel enrolled at the University of Maryland’s School of Business and started working towards earning a degree in Marketing. She continued down the same path of passionate work, innovation, and charity.
During her time in college, she resumed her volunteering efforts. She planned and conducted a trip for 20 students to renovate homes for veterans in Arizona.
Rachel also founded the National Hillel Basketball Tournament, which saw 200 Jewish basketball players from 30 universities unite over the sport. Over a decade later, the event is still going strong and is one of the country’s largest gatherings of Hillel students.
Learning Never Stops
In the three short years she spent at college, Rachel managed to leave a long-lasting positive impression on the place. She not only initiated, conceptualized, and conducted programs that remained active after her leave, but she graduated with a 3.8 GPA and made the Dean’s list.
Wanting to do more, Rachel decided to spend a year working as a freelancer. During this time, Rachel worked with small businesses and startups on branding, designing and building websites, and making products focused on a simplified user experience.
The knowledge-driven Rachel moved to New York City and got a job at Bluecore as a Senior Product Designer. It was the perfect opportunity for her to continue to work on all the different aspects of the design process, but this time for commerce marketers from larger brands like Gap, Nike, Staples, and hundreds of others.
Rachel spends a lot of her career improving the skills which, unbeknownst to her at the time, would prove invaluable to her future business effort.
After 2 years at Bluecore, she was ready for the next chapter in her life - Millie.
Shaping the Desire
Although Rachel had spent her life involved in charity, she never felt like it was the best she could do.
One day, as she was doing her taxes, Rachel realized that most of the money she was donating was through her friends. This isn’t a terrible thing, however, it meant the causes she gave money to were not necessarily ones she was deeply passionate about.
After being raised to place such importance on giving, she felt embarrassed when she found out that her giving habits were not thoughtful at all.
Rachel thought that she could also engage her peers in charity. Millennials had drastically different giving habits from their Baby Boomer parents. Even though they cared about causes, most of their money went into causes promoted by their peers, and oftentimes to unvetted campaigns through online sites like Go Fund Me.
Giving Life to Millie
So even though people Rachel's age gave a large portion of their income to charity, it was far less reflective of their core values.
Rachel also felt Millennials got a bad rep as a generation, thus she aimed her efforts at maiming all these problems. The name of her startup was a result of this thinking process. She wanted to relate the generation with something positive so she came up with Millie.
However, Rachel soon realized there was no time to do everything else she had planned, and found that she was much more passionate about Millie than her other work.
Once she started focusing on her idea, she realized that with her work experience in product design, she could develop this to a much larger scale.
This is when Millie started to really take shape.
Building Something Great
Even though she spent years working with other startups, building a company herself proved to be different and more challenging than our founder expected.
One problem Rachel would run into was launching an iPhone app. They got the software prepped and sent the code in. Not expecting this to take a long time, the team had articles and press releases awaiting, but the news wasn’t good - more changes to the app were needed.
An important step in developing Millie was getting nonprofits aboard. The team called nonprofit organizations to sell their pitch and help them reach Millenials. About 100 nonprofits joined the beta and since then, the app has grown organically.
No need for outreach anymore - organizations find Millie and claim pages. Making Millie the go-to app for donations meant having to deal with the fierce competition coming from companies like Alaya, Bright Funds, and Goodworld, among others.
It’s a place that encourages employee giving as well - it can service companies with as few as 10 employees, as well as large firms with 10,000 employees.
Who Gives to the Giving App?
A platform built on the premise of giving money doesn’t seem like a simple business idea to make a profit.
Millie charges companies to create social impact programs for them. The pricing will depend on the exact nature of services purchased, and the number of employees the company has.
Millie is also supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, from which it’s received a $150,000 grant.
Where Is Millie Headed to?
Millie is still made up of a fairly small team, yet is hopefully going to grow into something much bigger - a home for philanthropic efforts.
Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Millie now employs close to 10 people - all of who work tirelessly on making Millie loved by many.
The future of Millie is more of the same charitable giving. It’s not about giving through the app, but providing a space for people to get to know nonprofits better and be inspired to donate to causes they care about.
As much of an impact as Millie has had, everyone involved hopes to bring this to a whole new level going forward. Innovations like this can truly move the world into a brighter future, for both giving and receiving parties.