One of Western Canada’s largest startups, online giving software provider Benevity Inc., has raised $40-million in venture funding from its two giant American growth equity backers.
Calgary-based Benevity’s software is used by 12 million employees of 600 enterprises including Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple and Google to donate money and volunteer hours to 200,000 charities. Benevity raised the funds from JMI Equity and General Atlantic.
Baltimore-based JMI provided Benevity with its first institutional funding when it invested $38-million in 2015, while New York-based General Atlantic invested an undisclosed nine-figure sum in early 2018 to buy a majority stake from early investors.
The latest financing values the company at close to US$400-million. The company generates about $100-million in annual revenue, making it one of Canada’s largest early stage technology companies.
“Part of the message is that a world-class software company can be built in Calgary,” CEO and founder Bryan de Lottinville said in an interview. “We’re one of the most compelling employers in Canada – and we’re not in the resource sector.”
Benevity provides an easy-to-use “white label” platform companies use internally not just to handle their employees’ charitable donations but also a range of initiatives broadly aimed at improving employee engagement and fulfilling their corporate social responsibility initiatives. Those have increasingly factored into corporate strategies in recent years, driving rapid growth at Benevity, said Alex Crisses, managing director with General Atlantic’s technology group.
Benevity has quadrupled the amount of annual charitable donations it handles to $4-billion over the past three years. The company’s platform also handled the donation of 23 million hours of volunteering time in the last year.
JMI and General Atlantic both said the company, which earns a percentage of donations in the low single digits, has the highest client retention rate among any of the companies they back, at 99 per cent.
“People who use the product love it and use it more and more,” Mr. Crisses said. “We see so much growth opportunity in the business going forward.”
Mr. de Lottinville, a veteran technology startup executive who founded Benevity in 2008, said the funding will be used to expand client and cause support services and fund product innovations, including more mobile solutions. Benevity is also looking to expand its 600-person work force by one-third. “The first priority is to build the best business we can [to provide] the scale and efficiency the space needs and our clients need,” he said.
JMI general partner and Benevity director Bob Nye said the board and management foresee years of steady growth, which “will give the company a lot of options down the road” including possibly going public. “The board and management team want to focus on building a big business,” he said.
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