Three of the most prominent online fundraising auction firms working in the charitable space are being combined under the Community Brands umbrella, which already includes software firms Abila, Aptify and YourMembership.
Community Brands has acquired 501 Auctions and Gesture and there is an agreement in place to acquire GiveSmart. The acquisition of these mobile auction technology firms extends the Community Brands product portfolio to provide mobile auction and fundraising event services.
The three firms have been the platforms for approximately $500 million in activity during 2017, according to Michael Piotrowski, media relations manager, corporate marketing at Community Brands. Financial details of the deals were not disclosed. The three firms have a combined 225 employees.
“Their mobile technology supports the growing expectations of donors who conduct their everyday lives on their mobile devices, and fits our overall strategy to be the most innovative technology company worldwide, while serving those who serve for social good,” said Jean-Paul (JP) Guilbault, president and CEO of Community Brands.
The 501 Auctions and Gesture teams, along with GiveSmart when the acquisition is final, will join Community Brands Nonprofit Solutions division led by Executive Vice President Erin Shy, a long-time Abila software executive. “We look forward to working with the respective teams to expand their reach and integrate them with the Community Brands ecosystem of solutions and services, along with the thousands of events we support and run through our systems,” said Shy.
Some of the fundraising partners for 501 Auctions, Gesture and GiveSmart include Alzheimer’s Association, American Lung Association, American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Goodwill, Junior League, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Make-A-Wish, Ronald McDonald House and YMCA, according to Shy.
There are now 10 brands in four divisions of Community Brands, all targeting the nonprofit space in some forms. The divisions include membership, career and learning with vertical job boards, K through 12 education market and the fundraising and fund accounting vertical.
Shy said that while the three firms combined for 5,000 auctions during 2017, there is an opportunity to handle as many as 100,000 auctions when used across the Community Brands group of platforms. “This is not an exercise in consolidation,” she said. The effort will be to “more easily make data be seen across multiple platforms,” turning one-time events into year-long contacts with potential donors, she added.
It has been a busy year for Community Brands. Earlier this year the venture-financed firm brought in YourMembership (YM) with Abila and Aptify to create a family of brands and a connected eco-system of software and services. It was funded by Insight Venture Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm that invests in high-growth software and Internet-enabled companies. Venture firm Accel-KKR sold a majority stake in Abila to Insight this past April, which it bought from Sage Software in 2013. Sage Nonprofit Solutions (NPS) was rebranded as Abila after a $101.2-million deal. The nonprofit element was the largest segment of three in the deal.
Community Brands is operated via a holding company that includes Ministry Brands and Education Brands. “Community Brands stands side by side with Ministry Brands and Education Brands, but is in no way targeting their markets,” Piotrowski said at the time. Insight Venture Partners reportedly invested more than $1 billion in Ministry Brands, a provider of a SaaS platform for churches, ministries and other faith-based organizations. It purchased the stake from Providence Equity Partners. Another venture firm, Genstar Capital, kept a minority stake.
Deven Parekh, managing director of Insight Venture Partners, said via a press statement earlier this year: “The creation of Community Brands is an important step to drive continued innovation and growth within the association and nonprofit sectors.” Founded in 1995, Insight has raised more than $13 billion and invested in more than 250 companies worldwide.