cabot conversations with greg howe, ceo, and founder, olithan solutions

In this episode, Shibu Basheer, CTO, Cabot Solutions speaks with Greg Howe, CEO, and Founder, Olithan Solutions. Greg shares his experience working with Cabot Solutions.


Hi, my name is Shibu Basheer, and welcome to another episode of Cabot Conversations. I'm the CTO at Cabot technology solutions where we help our clients in developing great applications. My guest today is Greg Howe, CEO of Altruity. Welcome, Greg. Altruity is a platform that brings multiple charitable organizations under one roof. Greg, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Altruity and how it all started.

Absolutely. Thank you, Shibu.

What is Altruity?

You know it started out the concept of Altruity really started about two years ago when I was working on in my brain an e-commerce solution for the charitable giving industry were non-profits within the united states because I long felt that my background my company's specialty is in providing technology services to non-profit organizations and so I've had the opportunity to look at a lot of the ways that they use technology to raise funds for their missions and it has always struck me as very inefficient. By way of example in the United States charities will spend upwards of 11 to 12 cents to raise one dollar and that's just the average some spend 25 cents to raise a dollar and they're all competing for that donor and that donor's attention and they cast a wide blanket you know in terms of their marketing how they attract their donors and their conversion rate is really really small. So there were a lot of inefficiencies and so I felt like we could develop a platform that did two things.

1. Open new revenue channels for the charitable organizations and

2. Remove those inefficiencies.

I felt like it would benefit not only the charities who I want to benefit but also the donors and that's where Altruity kind of started and then one day I had the epiphany or idea of introducing charitable giving or philanthropy in legal sports betting in the United States. Which here in the US it's relatively a new industry. I won't get too much into it but back in 2018, the supreme court here allowed each state to determine whether sports betting was legal. So since that time it's really taken off and there's nobody in that space asking for donations and I just started thinking what better opportunity is there both for the donor and for those charities to ask for donations when somebody just one month wants some new money. That's when the person is most willing and able and so that the thought process around Altruity started to coalesce around that of let's take the concept of Altruity which is one place for your charitable giving you can choose among 45,000 charities within the United States to donate to let's go and let's integrate Altruity with systems where they're already likely donors. It's much more efficient you ask them for a donation when they just have new money coming into their possession in the case of sports betting and do those integrations in and since that point about two years ago we've had great success great conversations with sportsbooks and sports betting sites in the United States and we've talked to payroll processors about workplace giving you know direct-to-pot or direct deduction from your paycheck and we've continued with that b2b model and we're continuing to this day but covid really put a cramp in a lot of that. Because it put a lot of these companies behind the eight ball in terms of their own priorities and getting their attention but we still continue to have great conversations and so what that led to with covid was I moved forward in time something that was always on the roadmap and that was our direct to donor or b2c offering of Altruity. And the direct to donor which I'll demonstrate for you here in a few minutes is all about directly just as the name implies providing that donor a more efficient and easy donation process. Save them time allows them to make a bigger impact. Because a lot in a similar way to charities and how they operate that has a direct effect on how donors in the United States can support the charities that they want. It's very inefficient in the absence of something like Altruity and by way of example the average US donor supports six charities in a given year and what that means is they have to go to six different websites make six different donations manage six different receipts and then attempt to pull it together all of that information together at tax time if they want to get that the deductions from their taxes.

And you know I started thinking about sites like Expedia or Travelocity or even amazon where you go one place you have one place you can do all of your shopping or your travel planning why isn't there a site like that for donors. Because in the United States individuals in 2019 donated 350 billion dollars to charities and that's a lot of money for the United States citizens. The average United States citizen is very very generous with their money and I felt like they were being underserved and so the whole concept of direct-to-donor aspect or direct-to-donor offering of the Altruity platform is your one place for charitable giving. We provide features and tools and your team has really helped make this come alive. The concept I had in my head it's now live and everything's going great and you know in a minute I'd love to tell you to show you about it but to back up one of the things that your hub team helped me do was take the concept of Altruity I wanted to make it very flexible so that we can offer to the b2b realm through direct integrations or something like direct to consumer or direct to donor with the user interface but have that same central engine. So everything that we've developed is all API based so that we have that flexibility to kind of integrate in multiple ways and your team was instrumental in the design of that API as well as the front end that I'm going to show you here. So it's really come together really nicely and I'm excited to show you a little bit more about it.

Altruity Demo

Do you want me to go to the demo now? Sure. But I'd love to see a demo. All right. Let me share my screen here. I'm going to show you in our test environment.

Because here I can complete a donation and show you the entire process. This is the homepage of Altruity and this phrase right here your one place for charitable giving epitomizes what my vision for the direct-to-donor Altruity site is to be. It is that one place where you can come and you can make and manage all of your charitable giving. We have a number of features that are specific to that donor to save them time. One of the most important features that we recently with your team's help developed and introduced just prior to going live was the gift basket. And what makes the gift basket revolutionary and nobody else really has this is you can combine up to 10 charities in one donation in your gift basket. Enter your credit card information one time and then we do all of the heavy lifting of splitting that gift your amounts out to those charitable organizations. We have other features that I'll show here in the demo but really this is an informational page telling potential donors more about what Altruity is, who my company is, who the Altruity foundation is. Because we want people to feel comfortable with what we're doing, we're above board so we have a regulatory compliance page explaining how we've had to register in 40 plus states where they're where it's required to just solicit charitable gifts in those particular states.

A lot of information here and I want to mention and throw kudos out to you Shibu that we had originally started with an entirely react based website and the content was originally developed in React but with your great suggestion, we shifted to split out the user profile and the donation portion of the site keep that in as react based technology. But the rest of it is now hosted by WordPress and that that gives us a lot of flexibility and freedom to quickly make changes to content images and so on and allows my marketing firm an easy way to go and build out additional content on the website so I really appreciate the suggestion that you gave me several months ago to do that and it's really worked out.

Well sure, thank you.

We'll log in here and I'll show you a little bit around the profile page so right now pretty bare-bones in terms of you know you can just edit your personal information, you can create your favorite charities, so let's say that I want to add Saint Jude’s, I want to you know where I live. There's an organization called the loaf country food bank and I can add those favorites into my profile and on our roadmap, I'll show you on the donate page what this is going to do is it allows it makes your giving experience and your donating experience much more efficient. It's going to pull in your favorites and put them in a prominent location so you just quickly click on those, choose those charities that you most want to support, and quickly make your donation and get your tax receipt and move about your day so that's where this is going. We've got the concept of giving goals within the profile and I'm really excited about this especially the giving goal wizard. You can come in here and you can just set your own amount just enter whatever you'd like and once you set your goal Altruity will help you track your progress throughout that year towards that goal. This is obviously your charitable giving goal. It's great that you can set your own but you can also go through the giving goal wizard. Answer three simple questions. What is your IRS tax filing status? I am married so I'm going to choose that and ask did you itemize your federal taxes last year or ask that same question in a different way if you're not quite sure what itemizing taxes means. But I do and we'll just make up a number here 75,000 household income and what I get is I get calculated based upon those answers and what others with similar answers typically donate. I get an annual charitable giving goal.

In addition, what we do is we do some tax calculations we have tax tables in Altruity database. And we project that this could reduce my taxes if I hit this goal my taxes are going to go down by about 200 dollars a year. Which is a great little tip and tool for those folks who are tax conscious and looking for ways to reduce their taxes. So we wanted to give this a little bit of extra information for that donor. Once I save this, the user interface changes a little bit and now what we have is a view within the current year of where I stand towards that goal if I was two years into this I would be able to see last year's goal how I progressed towards that goal in my lifetime and a breakdown of my total giving a number of donations I've made and the number of charities that I've supported over time. I'm gonna complete a donation we'll come back and look at this Altruity donation history. This is where automatically your giving history is loaded up and stored in your profile so that you can easily review all of that and I'll come back to that in just a moment. But you can you're not limited to managing just your Altruity gifts. I can actually enter gifts that I have made outside of Altruity to again the idea is to make it easier for the donor at tax time. So what I can do is I can come in here I'll show you can do a one-time gift or a recurring gift. We'll say that this recurring gift began on February 1st, 2021, and let's say that on a monthly basis I give 25 dollars and we'll enter an American red cross or actually, maybe a better is first baptist church maybe I give 25 dollars to my church on a weekly basis I can enter the tax id and any notes I want. What's great about this is once I hit save, now I have my recurring gift in here in all future entries of that throughout the year. This is a monthly gift and so at tax time now that I have my recurring gift in here I can download that along with all of my alternative donations in one file, import it into my tax software or hand it off to my accountant. I don't have to worry about it. If I wanted to given month the situation changes and I say I want to donate or I did donate 35 dollars in this month and if I want to attach my receipt if I get that I can do that there and I'm able to update any of these in real-time and maintain my giving log outside of Altruity. This was important to me because I wanted it kind of filled out that concept of one place to make and manage all of your charitable giving. I didn't feel like it was fully finishing that concept if we didn't allow people to capture and store all of their donations that weren't even made in Altruity.

So let me show you a little about the donate page and we'll go and I'll demonstrate the gift basket. Which is I think the coolest feature and biggest time saver for donors. Here on the donate page, we have a charity spotlight that we update typically on a monthly basis. This month in the United States is breast cancer awareness month. So we've spotlighted three top-rated breast cancer charitable organizations and when you hover over these you get to see what their rating is. In this case, a breast cancer alliance has a four-star rating that we've assigned to it. Based upon their financial management, their charitable donation management, and their impact we provide the mission to the donor. So that they can read more about that particular organization and its all tile-based user interface. I can just click on this breast cancer alliance. I love their mission. Let's say I want to donate to them. And now my gift basket contains the breast cancer alliance. I can finish my donation now and proceed to checkout or to save more time. Let's say that I want to donate to somebody else. I love the charity spotlight spotlighted charities but I want to browse and look for some others that I might like to support. Veteran support perhaps is something very important to me. When I clicked on that mission category I kind of went through that a little bit quickly. All of these mission categories present you with a curated list of top-rated charitable organizations that fall within that mission category. And so let's say I really like the Gary Sinise Foundation. I chose that organization. Let's say I want to give them 50 dollars. And I'm going to add a third but this time I'm going to show the advanced search. And what's great about Altruity is not just that we have 45,000 charities it's that I can give to a national international reach or a local charity and in my case where I live the low country food bank is an organization that I'd give to every year personally and they're available here within Altruity they're based out of Charleston South Carolina where I live and they have a local reach. Now in one place, I have three very different charitable organizations that I can now make a single donation to and I have a partner in Altruity that I know is going to split those amounts up to those charitable organizations. I didn't mean to do that, it meant to click proceed to checkout. So I can show you this. Because I'm logged in with my user account my first and last name and email address are auto-populated. I'm going to enter a fake testing credit card number. And then I have the option to share my information with my name, email address, my donation amount, and date with my charitable organizations. That's what this first box is giving me the ability to opt-in.

But another added benefit of Altruity is that I can donate discreetly. In the United States, some charities are relentless in their mark follow-up marketing and solicitation for additional donations. In my personal life, I have donated on day one and within a week I'm being asked for another donation and it's just another aspect of the way that a lot of charitable organizations raise funds or fundraise that I don't like. I don't think it is a good practice to berate and send spam email after solicitation email or phone call after another to your donors. Because you're going to end up turning them off. So what this allows me as an Altruity donor to do is get my immediate tax receipt. 2. Support the charities that I love in my gift basket.

So how can people get started just go to and get started?

Yeah. It's actually and users can come here they don't have to create a user account to donate. But to get most of the benefits in order to manage their profile they should create a user account. But the great thing is if you use it when you donate not under you if you have not yet created the user profile. If you use the same email address to make your donations and then use that same email address to create your user profile. We automatically link and pull those prior gifts into your profile when you do decide it's the right time to create your user profile. So it's added benefits. That's great. So I don't even have to create an account. I can just use the donate feature and get started okay. Exactly. That's how you can get started. We'll also link this website on this video under the description. So it will be there for anyone to check it out.

Altruity - Future Plans

What are some of your future plans for this?

We are right now you know close to a couple of deals on b2b integrations. We're working with or talking to a couple of payroll processing companies where we'll be able to bring this type of experience to your workplace giving. One of the drawbacks and this goes back to perhaps you're seeing a theme here of how I want to change both the way that fundraising occurs in the United States and how underserved donors are.

Here's another example. In my work life or my career and countless people, I know when you donate out of your paycheck to a charitable organization you may get two choices through your employer. I won't name those charities but it's typically the same ones every time. But imagine if you as an employer could align your brand with the individual giving passions of your employees by allowing them to choose from 45,000 charities and donate to multiple charities out of your paycheck. Perhaps it's that national brand or charity like Saint Jude or UNICEF. Perhaps it's where you graduated from college or the local food bank in your city. You have that flexibility and so that's where we're going with this is taking that concept of aligning your brand with the individual and I emphasize that everybody's charitable giving passions are unique. So when corporations ask for donations to their chosen charity that's doing a disservice to that donor. Because they may not want to. They may find that charity to be worthwhile but that may not be where their passions lie. So we're really really working hard towards completing some of these integrations with the other industries, other businesses, and then future plans within the direct donor portal. I want to make it even more time-saving for individual donors who come. I had mentioned the favorites. We're going to redesign the donate page. So that you can view in an easy area. Your previous charitable gifts and just repeat that gift. Choose from your favorite charities and many more time-saving features we want to add recurring giving into it. So there's a lot on the roadmap that we want to add more excited to get to that point. Right now we're at a minimum viable product. So we've halted some of the development until we get to that next phase or maturity level of the product and then we're going to add more features and we're really excited about it. Awesome.

How did you find Cabot? What is your experience with the development team?

I'd love to hear from you about how you found Cabot? What was your experience on this MVP product and what did Cabot bring to the people in the development and the evolution of this project?

Yeah. So I was struck by what caught my attention was your website. I was doing a search on technology providers with some presence in the United States. And then I reached out. I think it was you and I first talked several years ago and then what I ultimately closed the deal in my mind was the suite of the full service offering that your company brought to the table. You know, I knew I wanted to host Altruity in Azure and so you guys were able to offer those operational folks who really knew azure. They knew Microsoft DevOps and they were able to help me with a lot of the processes in the setup in Azure and in DevOps. But also the user interfaces developers and the API developers. So you offered that full spectrum of services that I really needed. Because I have a whole other division of my company that I'm managing. So and I didn't want to divert my own people to Altruity. Because it's for a number of reasons it just didn't make a whole lot of sense. So I wanted a partner that I could really rely on that had the experience and you guys fit the bill and you guys did a fantastic job on developing Altruity.

That's great.


Thanks for the demo today and you know talking a lot you know about the product. I wish you the best of luck and you know we wish to continue working with you and helping you to bring in new features and ease of use to the users. Thanks again. Do you have any last words or anything to tell the viewers at all?

No just please follow us on social media and visit us at if you'd like to learn more. Thank you for the opportunity Shibu.

Thank you. We'll link all the social media and the website on the description and thanks again and see you later.

All right have a great day.



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