By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Nicole Sdao describes herself as a “faith driven entrepreneur.”
“I’m a recovering volunteer addict is what I am,” she said.
Over the years she had learned the key value of volunteerism, both to the organization that receives the work being done, and the world outside of the organization. An ever-increasing number of schools are making volunteerism a graduation requirement, and colleges are using volunteer data to make admissions decisions. Law-enforcement tracks mandated volunteer activity. Corporations are collecting volunteer data, as a collective, as well as for employees who are taking paid time off to serve as volunteers.
Despite the pivotal role these hours play in countless organizations, Sdao observed that the method for tracking these valuable hours was inadequate. Across the board, organizations were using paper logs to track hours and there were few verification safeguards implemented in programs across the nation.
Recognizing the value of volunteerism, Sdao created a solution to expand the benefit of the work being done through robust tracking and verification of volunteer hours. In 2020 she launched Altruize, an app that helps nonprofits, schools, companies, and individuals to track volunteer hours.
Early support for the product was strong. Sdao won the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Early Stage Symposium Elevator Pitch Olympics in 2019. Beloit-based Altruize was prepared to capitalize on the win, but the global pandemic changed those plans.
Now that volunteerism is climbing towards pre-pandemic levels, the company is again ready to introduce the world to the app that allows users to record, verify and share volunteer hours with just a few clicks.
Anyone can create a free account. Accounts established by volunteers remain with them through the course of different volunteer experiences.
“Altruize is your traveling digital volunteer portfolio for life,” Sdao said. “Our greater mission is wanting you to go beyond volunteering because you have to, but because you want to. And so, it stays with you for a lifetime.”
“For those organizations that are just verifying the information, it is free for them as well. We become a really simple solution tool for those smaller nonprofits that really can’t afford a full volunteer management program, but they need this data to be able to apply for grants,” she said.
Organizations that track and verify volunteer hours pay for Altruize access based on the number of users inputting data. A paid subscription to the program allows customers access to a variety of premium reporting options.
Sdao, a gBeta graduate, is ready to see Altruize grow.
“We just have finished up the MVP (minimum viable product) part. We’ve got paid pilots. We know what works, and what doesn’t. We’ve done amazing things with the obstacles in our way, but to take that to the next step, we need to be funded,” Sdao said.
To support this growth, Sdao has been traveling around the country to seek capital to support product development, including a web-based application for program administrators. “We are actively fundraising right now. $1.2 million is our ask,” she said.
“I am a faith driven entrepreneur, so for me, this is definitely a higher calling. The company name came from screaming up to the heavens saying, ‘I want people to exercise their altruism.’ That’s the bigger goal for Altruize, to really get people to the point where they’re tracking their volunteering not because they have to, but because they want to. They want to better themselves because they want to do better in the community. “
To follow the growth of Altruize, follow the company here.