Monday, September 26, 2016

Micro-Donor App Launches Political Giving Tool

A Brooklyn-based startup allows users to donate up to $3 to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton while they watch the Monday-night debate.

While you can't vote with your phone, yet, you can now donate to Presidential candidates during Monday's debate via an app.

Brooklyn-based Spotfund, an iOS app that allows users to easily make micro-donations to a variety of causes, launched a politics feed last week that lets users donate to candidates and broadcast their small-dollar contributions to friends on the app or other social media feeds.

Mobile users drop digital tokens representing donations of $1 to $3 in dollar increments onto the page of their preferred candidate.

"People love the second-screen experience," said co-founder and COO Mike Marian, who envisions users making contributions in real time the same way they share opinions on Twitter or Facebook during debates.

In the Citizens United era, campaigns have directed attention to their small-donor numbers as proof of their popular appeal. Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has now raised nearly $100 million from donors giving $200 or less, according to Politico, more than past Republican nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney combined.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton hit $156 million in small-dollar donations back in July. Former Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders raised just over $200 million from small donors, which made up the bulk of his fundraising, a feat he often touted on the campaign trail.

Currently the platform allows users to give to both Clinton and Trump, as well as Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party.

As of Monday afternoon, Trump had a slight edge over Clinton in Spotfund Politics donations with $832, versus $829 for her.

The app has $1.5 million in seed funding from Fueled, a venture fund and incubator that designed the technology in the beta launch. Spotfund takes 5% of each donation and has 400 philanthropic causes promoting campaigns via the app, according to the company.

The app's initial beta was released in June, focusing on philanthropic campaigns, while the company worked on complying with Federal Election Commission rules such as contribution limits and donor disclosure.

The idea for Spotfund Politics grew out of the founders' frustration that average Americans' donations couldn't sway public policy the way that lobbyists and large donors could.

Asked whether he worried that this would turn the debate into a reality show-type experience akin to American Idol, where the audience is able to text a choice of winner, Spotfund Co-Founder and CEO Sanford Kunkel said he believed the entertainment value merely of the actual election has enhanced political involvement this year.

"This campaign has become a reality show," Kunkel explained. "Engagement is all we can ask for."

If viewers like a point Trump makes during a debate about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal known as TPP that has emerged as a political flash point in this election, they can donate on a whim.

"You're allowing it to be impulsive," said Kunkel.

CLICK HERE for information on Spotfund Politics.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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