FirstGiving & Frontstream Payments
1. What’s this I hear about FirstGiving changing ownership?
FirstGiving has been acquired by FrontStream Payments, a complimentary player in the credit card processing space that processes over $4B annually. We’re excited about what the acquisition will mean in terms of our ability to expand donation processing options for our nonprofit customers and API partners, as well as additional investment in our existing peer-to-peer fundraising platform.
2. Who is FrontStream Payments?
FrontStream is a leading merchant solutions provider of integrated payment products, with a history of building successful payment solutions for specific verticals, including automotive, retail and transportation. Of particular interest to nonprofits is their fasttransact™ platform, a self-serve, cloud-based payment processing system that enables multiple payment channels, including mobile, electronic checks, and alternative payment options like PayPal. The platform allows companies and organizations to create configurable, branded payment pages and widgets that plug right into your existing website and social media channels. FrontStream owns their own gateway and is level 1 PCI compliant.
3. What is their interest in the nonprofit space?
FrontStream’s management team has roots in both payment processing and the education space, where they built a number of groundbreaking products (including online tuition payments) for Sallie Mae. They are firmly committed to creating innovative payment offerings specifically for the education and nonprofit markets, which they believe are underserved by existing solutions. They were looking to align themselves with a leading brand in the nonprofit space, and value the decade of domain expertise that FirstGiving brings to the table. They are already working with some key nonprofit partners, including Fisher House, Habitat for Humanity, the Center for NonProfit Advancement and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, and are looking to make a long-term commitment to the space.
4. Why do FirstGiving and FrontStream make sense together?
We’re excited about this partnership because it gives us an ability to service a much wider range of non-profits. In addition to offering turnkey fundraising and donation processing solutions to small and mid-tier non-profits, we’ll now be able to service the needs of larger non-profits who need flexible, brandable payment solutions.
Aligning with a company with expertise in payment processing also allows us to continue to enable third parties looking to add a charitable element to their businesses. We’ve been thrilled with the response to our charity search and donation processing APIs, and with FrontStream’s support, we plan to expose more of our services to partners in a robust way.
5. Wait, isn’t FirstGiving currently owned by a British company, JustGiving?
Yes, we’ve been part of the Giving Group family for almost 10 years. JustGiving pioneered the peer-to-peer fundraising market in the United Kingdom, and brought their brand of fundraising to the United States in 2003, when FirstGiving was established as a subsidiary. Over time, our business strategies have diverged significantly; they have a direct-to-consumer model, while we’re focused on building a non-profit-oriented solution. At this point, our platforms, teams and markets are completely separate, so it seemed to make sense to align with an owner who is focused, like us, on the needs of North American non-profits.
6. What does this mean for me as a FirstGiving client?
In the short term (next 60-90 days), you shouldn’t notice any difference. You’ll continue to receive the same great product, service and support you’ve been used to, from the same people.
In the longer term, we hope you’ll notice many improvements as a result of our partnership. First and foremost, we’ll be able to give you more options in terms of how to manage donations – from setting up your own Merchant ID (MID) so donations can be deposited directly into your account, to the ability to customize the transaction experience for your donors whether they donate on your website, your Facebook page, or on a mobile device. We’ll be able to stay on the cutting edge of alternative payment methods (PayPal, electronic check, etc.) and mobile solutions. Our goal is to be the best place to gain a consolidated view of all of your fundraising activity.
With FrontStream’s resources, we should be able to deploy new product features more rapidly. You’ll see the launch of new products that will make FirstGiving the best place to fundraise and manage any non-profit event. For example, we’ll be jointly launching an on-site swipe device that will empower non-profits to accept donations at an event through any mobile device – we’ll send you the hardware, and ensure all donations rolls up into your FirstGiving reporting.
7. What does this mean for my fundraisers and donors?
Your fundraisers and donors will continue to have the same easy user experience and great customer support they’ve always enjoyed at FirstGiving. The main change they will notice over time is access to more payment options – donors who don’t want to use a credit card will be able to use a PayPal account or other alternative payment method, for example. We’ll also be introducing mobile options, such as the ability to donate by text/SMS.
8. Is the FirstGiving brand going away?
To the contrary, FrontStream intends to maintain and invest in the FirstGiving brand. If anything, you’ll see additional products and services launched under the FirstGiving name.
9. Is the acquisition going to derail the launch of product features I’ve been looking forward to this year?
Absolutely not. We’ll certainly have some decisions to make as a joint company about what aspects of our product offerings we bring together over time, but the intent is to continue investing in FirstGiving as a standalone platform. That means in the second half of the year we’ll be launching many new features along three themes: enhanced social media sharing, more control over branding and theming (both the ability to make changes to your non-profit page and the ability to embed our registration process and other FirstGiving elements on your own site), and better team functionality.
10. What does this mean for the nonprofit technology space? I’m worried that further consolidation in the market will be bad for nonprofits.
Our intent in coming together is to create more choice for nonprofits, rather than less. We’ve always been good at serving the needs of small and mid-sized nonprofits. Together with FrontStream, we’ll be able to offer a full menu of payment processing and fundraising solutions that can serve the needs of a range of non-profits. For larger organizations that need ultimate control over all of their payment channels, we’ll be a viable alternative to full suite solutions. And for smaller nonprofits looking for turnkey solutions, we can provide flexible, affordable and totally brandable plug-and-play options.
Just as importantly, FrontStream shares our philosophy that nonprofits should have the ability to assemble best-of-breed solutions, rather than being locked into expensive, one-size-fits-all software. That means we’ll have the resources to pursue integrations with Salesforce, and other market leading solutions nonprofits may already be using.
11. How do I learn more?
If you still have questions around the acquisition of FirstGiving and how it may affect you, please contact your account manager, or give us a call at 877.365.2949.
FirstGiving, FrontStream Webinar
We’ll be holding a joint webinar on August 23rd, 1pm EST to present more detail around what this means for your organization. Register for the webinar here.
Follow us on Twitter
If you’re not already following us on Twitter, you’ll find us at @firstgiving and @frontstream, and we'll be updating you all week.