Dan Gillett, president and CEO of the the online fundraising platform Kimbia, will donate three months of his salary to various nonprofits and the company will return a portion of its processing fees to thousands of organizations that were unable to collect donations through the platform during at least 40 different citywide Give Local America fundraising drives, due to a technical malfunction on Tuesday.
“I need to feel personally the pain that we caused,” Gillett said, but he declined to disclose how much three months of his salary actual is.
The Big Give SA, part of the Give Local network, fell far short of its $6 million fundraising goal on Tuesday, raising about $3.7 million. The number of offline donations made during the time that Kimbia was down are still being verified and totaled by local organizers.
Gillett issued monetary gestures and an apology at the Alamo Heights United Methodist Church on Friday during a lengthy Q&A session with more than 100 representatives from local nonprofits. His apology was received with mixed reactions – most were frustrated, some were angry, others were sympathetic to Gillett’s plight.
There were many complaints from the attendees, but the biggest one was that Kimbia has yet to identify what caused the technical difficulty and delayed resolution.
“We’re looking into what happened to make sure this won’t happen again,” Gillett told the crowd.
Which nonprofits will be receiving his paychecks for the next three months remains to be determined, he said. “We’re really focusing on (organizations) where that amount of money will have a huge impact. There are organizations where even $2,500 is a lot of money.”
In addition to his forfeiture of salary, Kimbia proposed to offer several items to help nonprofits make up the lost donations and opportunities.
The Austin-based company will reimburse one-third of the 2.99% transaction fees applied to donations given during the Big Give directly back to nonprofits, provide free access to its online fundraising technology for all nonprofits who participated in Give Local America, and its fundraising strategy team will provide year-long online fundraising workshops each month starting in June, at no cost to the organizations.
Lee Tinker, director of Development ARTS San Antonio, wasn’t impressed by the apology.
“I felt so disrespected on May 3, and I still have heard nothing that indicates to me that you really know what the root cause is. The communication of this was horrendous,” Tinker said.
Gillett said that Kimbia staff would work around the clock to identify and share the cause for the technical issues in the coming weeks.
“I hope you’ll stay with us and give us a second chance,” he added.
Gillett said the Give Local America initiative had raised between $50-55 million as of Friday afternoon.
“The Big Give next year won’t be the same as it was this year,” said San Antonio Area Foundation President and CEO Dennis Noll. “Graham Weston and Harvey Najim have volunteered to help staff technology committees to determine the best way to operate the donation process.”
The audience erupted in a round of applause. The Kimbia platform stopped working at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in San Antonio. Big Give organizers considered canceling the event altogether, but eventually agreed to reboot the next day at 6 a.m.
“We’re not sure if it will be Kimbia or someone else (to handle the platform) next year,” Noll said, adding that if officials had halted or canceled the Big Give, it probably wouldn’t happen again. “This is an important initiative to the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Nonprofit Council, and to the nonprofits.”
Common complaints among the Town Hall attendees were lost donations, or cases where donors were overcharged. The Area Foundation is asking nonprofits to submit their records through May 12, so that Kimbia can find and count the exact donations made toward each organization.
Some were doubtful about the plausibility of that occurring.
Attendees also mentioned a large number of emails and complaints about software that were unanswered by Kimbia, and a general lack of communication about the technology issues from the Big Give Team.
“Despite all this, we still raised $3.7 million plus what we think is a lot of money that went through individual charities’ websites,” Noll said. “While it was a technological disaster, it wasn’t a fundraising disaster. Over 40,000 donors, that’s actually a change.”
Editors Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that Kimbia would reimburse nonprofits with a quarter of the 2.99% transaction fees applied to donations given during the Big Give directly back to nonprofits of its fees. The company will reimburse one-third of its usual fees.
Top Image:Dan Gillett, president and CEO of the the online fundraising platform Kimbia, apologizes to the crowd of nonprofit and charity representatives during Friday’s Town Hall. Photo by Lea Thompson