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Shelfie: Creating Fundraising Multimedia Campaigns for Nonprofits


Brendan Barbato ’17 is the CEO and Founder of Shelfie, a business that creates photo and video campaigns for nonprofits. They aim to enhance awareness, engagement and retention while creating communities around a cause.

The Inspiration

In March of 1997 Barbato was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. “Anyone with a blood glucose level over 125 is at risk for developing diabetes. Mine was 949. I easily could have died,” says Barbato. His family, inspired by his condition, raised $20,000-$30,000 a year for diabetic research organizations. This got Barbato thinking—could they have an even greater impact?

After watching the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and its success in such a short amount of time, Barbato wanted to make other nonprofit campaigns as engaging and interactive. He also saw an opportunity for improvement with retention and awareness. Why were they pouring ice water over their head? It was because ALS is a degenerative nerve disease and the tingling sensation of pouring ice over your heard is similar to what someone with ALS experiences on a daily basis, but most participants didn’t know that information when participating. Barbato wanted to use this model and improve on it.

“The problem we are trying to solve is three-fold and interconnected: transparency, efficiency, and retention,” says Barbato. “Sixty percent of donors use a watchdog site before donating, 50% of fundraisers spend $1.33 to raise $1, and average retention is 28%.”

This is where Shelfie, short for ‘share yourself’, was born.

The Tool

Shelfie is an easy to use mobile platform that is helping nonprofits engage with their donors and stakeholders to create buy in for their mission. Users (donors) will log in and see a list of charities hosting a challenge, submit their best photo/video to the challenge and then have the option to donate and see the progress of the campaign.

The first wave of campaigns Shelfie is launching is called “Compete for a cause,” this is pitting Boston area schools against one another to see who can raise the most funds for a local nonprofit. The platform will not only host these challenges but also create a community of people that care about the same causes. “We are gamifying donations while helping donors receive awareness about causes, and cutting out the expense for the nonprofit,” says Barbato.

“I want to build communities around common causes so that we may work collaboratively to raise awareness around problems and then solve them,” says Barbato.

The Babson Connection

The implementation of Shelfie started in Summer Venture Program (SVP) out at the Babson San Francisco campus. “San Francisco was a great environment and the Summer Venture Program provide the right support system and tools to help us build out the product,” says Barbato. Barbato also credits his professors and their guidance in and out of the classroom with the success of Shelfie. The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship has also served as a resource to Barbato, sending him to pitch competitions and providing key advice and support while he builds his company.

Shelfie has just launched its first crowdfunding campaign, view the campaign to stay up to date with Shelfie.