How One Startup Is Putting the Gig Economy in Reach of Nonprofits

Wethos, a freelancer community that targets nonprofits, has gained a sizable amount of support for its concept, which aims to make marketing resources attainable to charitable groups that might otherwise rely on pro bono offerings.

In an era when tech companies seem to have an insatiable appetite for talent, the nonprofit world can find itself at a disadvantage when trying to attract talented employees.

But one startup, Wethos, is trying to help nonprofits out on this talent crunch—by bringing in some magic from the gig economy. The company, which started up in 2016, aims to create a marketplace of freelancers that ties them to work that helps desired causes. Made up of former ad agency employees, Wethos saw quick growth right off the bat, drawing in more than 1,000 freelancers. According to TechCrunch, the company currently has more than 1,500 freelancers and 300 nonprofits signed up.

In an interview with AlleyWatch, the company’s founders explained that the firm specifically chose to focus on the nonprofit sector, which faces cash constraints that other industries do not.

“Nonprofits are doing some of the most important work, but since their resources are limited, they may not have access to top talent,” the founders told the web outlet. “With the ability to connect for short-term projects, nonprofits can produce top-tier work and focus on the causes we are committed to.”

The strategy Wethos uses to help accommodate nonprofits with low budgets is to take its 15 percent cut out of the freelancers’ pay, rather than from the nonprofits that use the company’s services. Wethos has been experimenting with different variants of its model, including a partnership with Rise to Run, a campaign that supports progressive women running for office, to offer freelance help for political campaigns. Also, the firm has discussed offering an enterprise version of its product for larger nonprofits.

The company scored a $1 million round of funding last year and is aiming for something even bigger in the years to come. But the company has faced some challenges out of the gate—challenges that were highlighted in a New York Times article last year that drew attention to sexism in the world of venture capital.

Rachel Renock, the company’s CEO, noted in an interview with Forbes that the company also faced some challenges making the case for its nonprofit-supporting mission. But the founders stuck strong with their mission, arguing “that nonprofits deserve better than having to rely on pro bono” for their design work.

“The truth is, these organizations are actively up against our toughest problems, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and yet they have access to the least amount of resources,” she said in the interview. “For us, raising this round was about telling a new story about the nonprofit space, the real story of how important they are to our economy.”

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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