), a charitable giving platform, has closed a $9M Series A led by FirstMark Capital and including participation from early seed and angel investors: Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company, Vayner/RSE, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa, Boulevard Capital’s Dave Leyrer, CrossCut Ventures, FFVC and entrepreneur and philanthropist, Adam Press. The funding enables Omaze to extend its cause marketplace to include a self-serve platform that enables any school, charity or congregation to leverage Omaze experiences to raise money for themselves.
Founded in 2012 by co-CEOs Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins, Omaze has re-invented the traditional auction model. Omaze raises money and awareness for causes by offering the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences - which have included everything from a role in the next Star Wars movie, to riding with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his tank and crushing cars, to having John Legend sing at your wedding. But unlike a traditional auction where only a small group of wealthy people can donate $25K or $50K to meet their sports hero or favorite performer, Omaze democratizes access to these experiences by allowing anyone in the world to donate $10 for the chance to win. The company harnesses original content and social media marketing to spread the word, and as a result, Omaze campaigns raise 20 times more for their charity partners than they would at a traditional auction. Its Star Wars campaign alone raised $4.26 million for the UNICEF Innovation Labs.”Individual giving is a $240 billion market that is still incredibly inefficient,” said Pohlson. “Only six percent of donations are made online and non-profits have to devote a disproportionate amount of their resources to fundraising. We exist so these organizations can focus on what they were founded to do: making a positive impact.”
“The venture community is just starting to take notice of the enormous opportunity for growth that exists in the giving market,” said Cummins. “And like in so many of their other early stage investments, we are excited that FirstMark has the vision to be at the forefront of this new category.”
“Matt and Ryan have a compelling vision for a three-side marketplace that can transform charitable giving,” said Heitzmann. “They have established Omaze as the category leader, and we are excited to partner with their team to help them broaden their marketplace by adding categories, products and services that can capture the huge opportunity.”
Omaze campaigns have supported numerous causes, from empowering veterans and establishing after school programs to providing access to safe drinking water. Funds raised via the Omaze community have gone towards helping UK charity Julia’s House build a new children’s hospice center in the UK, supporting (RED) campaign’s goal to see 10,000 babies enter the world free of HIV, 100 athletes being able to participate in the 2015 Special Olympic World Games – and much more.