Does United Way Compete with Fidelity Charitable and How does Pinkaloo fit in?

Non-Profit Quarterly had an interesting article last year titled “Does United Way Compete with Fidelity? An Odd Take on Philanthropy Provokes Real Questions” by Jim Schaffer and Ruth McCambridge. It is a good read that dives into the changing landscape of giving and how the very top of the annual Philanthropy 400 is littered with organizations that steward money as opposed to engaging in and running programs themselves.

One line from the article that really stands out with respect to if Fidelity Charitable and United Way compete:

A tax-exempt designation has only to do with an organization’s relationship with the IRS, not society. To compare Fidelity Charitable with the United Way, or
MSF, or many others on the list is like pitting Pope Francis against Kim Kardashian in a popularity contest.

We are often asked questions such as “Is the United Way a competitor?” and “Is Pinkaloo just another commercial donor advised fund (like Fidelity Charitable)?” The answers are not really and no.

First, it’s essential to note that Pinkaloo is not a non-profit, where United Way and Fidelity Charitable are. Pinkaloo partners with foundations to administer our giving accounts and manage charitable donations, but we are a for-profit technology provider.

So, does Pinkaloo overlap with the United Way?

Both organizations provide services to companies to help power their corporate giving and social corporate responsibility programs. But that’s where the comparison ends. For the most part, Pinkaloo focuses on partnering with very different types of companies at different stages of their maturity than the United Way, and we seek to empower them quite differently.

Pinkaloo typically works with smaller companies that are early in their philanthropy journey and are looking for an easy and low-cost way to offer their employees an innovative perk. Pinkaloo provides employers with a turn-key, branded platform that allows participating employees to fund their giving accounts through payroll.

The Pinkaloo platform is a democratized approach focused on empowering employees to donate to any registered charity in the US rather than an employer-driven program to support a few specific charities. While the software empowers companies to promote and highlight charities and projects that match their mission, employees can ultimately choose which charities to support. Companies can also opt to match donations through the accounts, extending the reach and impact of their employees’ charitable giving.

Some companies have expressed interest in combining a United Way campaign with a Pinkaloo program to match the wants and expectations of a workforce that spans many decades, but that is largely the extent of the overlap.

Is Pinkaloo just another commercial donor advised fund (like Fidelity Charitable)?

Definitely not. Pinkaloo provides software to make it easy to offer, administer, and manage giving accounts whether you’re a company or a non-profit foundation. Our giving accounts are quite different than donor advised funds (DAFs). Most DAFs will accept liquid or illiquid (real estate, company shares, art, etc.) gifts and will allow the funds to be invested and grow. Our accounts only accept money as gifts (and further, only accept gifts via digital/online transfer) and the funds cannot be invested. Because our primary focus is making it easier for average (often younger) donors to budget for, discover and manage their charitable giving, our accounts remove much of the complexity of a tradition DAF and in-turn, customers can or set a much lower minimum to open an account than other commercial DAFs.

We have augmented the basics of a giving account with a number of tools to support our vision, including charity and project discovery, social feeds of organizations that other community members have supported, and learning modules to help users drive greater outcomes with their gifts. As we continue to build out the platform, we will add features to help charities update and communicate with their donors, and even more tools to help donors better manage their giving.

The Pinkaloo platform transcends traditional digital brokerage accounts by striving to comprehensively improve giving for both donors and charities. In contrast to DAFs, where funds often sit in accounts for years on end, we see over 50% of gifts being granted out to charities in the same year.

There may exist a small set of donors who give larger sums of money and want a modern app for managing their giving and would consider Fidelity and/or a Pinkaloo Modern Giving account, but for the most part we support a different set of donors. Similarly, there may be some companies that should consider a United Way giving program alongside a Pinkaloo-powered program, but for the most part we focus on different types of companies and enable them with unique programs. And comparing Fidelity Charitable and the United Way is really just comparing apples and oranges.   

If you want to learn more about Pinkaloo, our platform, and our programs for Employers and Community Foundations, reach out to us at moderngiving @ or connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.