Len Kendall, Founder of CentUp.org (and avid twitterer here) wasn't the only one who noticed that people Facebook "like" too much. We'll like natural disasters, puppies, pithy quotes about overthrowing dictators. "Liking isn't helping" as a campaign idea was even Badlanded as it became a trend. Unlike the ad campaigns that pointed out the useless of a like, Len decided to turn it around and harness the lazy like and make it actually donate to a charity. If the habit is already there, why not make it do something good? In short, CentUp is an easy way for bloggers to earn money for themselves and charity. A reader enjoys a post, they click on CentUp, and they give some cents to the author. The kicker is that half of every donation goes to the donor’s selected charity.
Adland has now joined the Centup publishers, we have the Centup button on each post. Our charity we chose is the Fender music foundation, as we think encouraging creativity in kids is important, and music is a language that we all speak. If you "centup-like" on our our articles, 50% of the like goes to Fender music foundation.
db: When, and why, did you have the idea to start Centup?
Len Kendall: "CentUp was the result of my cofounders and I being sick of insignificant social actions. The “Like” specifically is one of the greatest offenders in our eyes. Somehow we’ve all accepted this behavior as normal, and as of today there are about 5 Billion Likes each day. What exactly does that do for anyone? We built CentUp to make it easy for people to make tiny but frequent donations to show they care. We also built the model to be a 50/50 split between charity and blogger because it takes a lot of social pressure (from both sides) away from the transaction."
db: You've been running as a startup since October, you must have learned a lot. What hurdles did you meet that were unexpected?
Len Kendall: "One of the biggest obstacles we’ve run into is publisher’s fear of any sort of revenue source that isn’t advertising, or one that could potentially disrupt their ad revenue. There’s a false assumption by many publishers we talk to that CentUp is similar to a Paywall or subscription. In reality, it’s a supplemental source of income that lets super fans give a bit more. It also provides a very direct way for publishers to see the names of their hardcore readers, and not just look at every visitor as a page view or click. We’re still fighting a huge battle to get larger publishers on board, but the “long tail” sized bloggers that get anywhere between 5000 and 500,000 visits a month are really embracing CentUp."
db: Has the growth of Centup donators and websites using Centup aligned to your expectations?
Len Kendall: "Much like any founder starting a new project, reality always ends up being lower than your grandiose expectations. By now we certainly felt like we’d be running on millions of websites and investors would be clawing at our doors. But building a behavior changing consumer startup is a grind. Companies like Snapchat often fool entrepreneurs (and investors) into thinking that a startup can scale up massively in less than 12 months, but those are massive exceptions. Building a tech company, like any company, takes dedication and time. My cofounders and I are not shy about the fact that we make money from many places and many businesses. CentUp is a big component of our 70+ hour work week, and as it grows, so will the percentage of time we spend on it."
db: Which was the first Charity to join Centup?
Len Kendall : "Pencils of Promise was the first charity to join. For those who aren’t familiar with them, they build new schools in countries that desperately need help with their education infrastructure. I absolutely love those guys and a mutual friend helped us get in touch with them in the very early days of CentUp."
db: Which charity would you like to add to the roster?
Len Kendall : "There’s no specific charity I would name, but there are definitely verticals we’re not yet supporting that we want to add to our list. Animal Welfare, Environmental Impact, and Veteran Support are huge priorities for us. The key for us is that every non-profit we work with must be national or global in scope, must have a strong digital presence, and must be ranked highly on Charity Navigator."
For readers who want to get a Centup account, just log in at Centup.org and deposit a few bucks. Publishers you have a similar route to take in creating an account so that you may get your button, there's easy install instructions for popular blog platforms like Wordpress, Blogger and even a Drupal module available.
This is what the Centup button looks like: