Rally.org is taking its social fundraising platform global with the launch of a beta program Thursday in Europe and the addition of a Berlin office. The San Francisco-based company boasts 4.6 million U.S. users—23,000 political campaigns, organizations, nonprofits and individuals have used Rally to communicate with their audience and raise funds in the process. Though he thinks the term crowdfunding is overplayed, founder and CEO Tom Serres has hoped to democratize fundraising in the EU and support the political ecosystem there for several years. “We certainly want Rally to become a global company,” Serres tells C&E. “Berlin has a rapidly growing creative class. I would’ve come here sooner if I could.” But it took a year to build a global payment network—one that will process 17 currencies starting with the euro—and acquire the necessary funding. Back in June 2012, the startup raised $7.9 million the new-fashioned way—online via a Series A round of funding. Aside from the active startup community in Berlin, Serres chose it as Rally’s international jumping-off point because it was inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe, economically sound and home to one of the largest politically-active communities on the continent.
“There’s a disruptive, change-making mentality growing there,” Serres says. Just like campaigns, German cause leaders can raise money and deposit it into the Rally platform, though they’ll need a Germany-based bank account to receive funds initially. Rally will continue to upgrade its platform as online fundraising evolves. During the 2012 cycle, Rally.org's fundraising platform was employed by Democratic and Republican campaigns, including Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and Elizabeth Warren's Senate campaign in Massachusetts.
Rally recently launched “covers”—a community-building portion of the product where users can wrap videos or photos in donation form. A campaign with a new political ad could upload it to Rally.org and provide their audience the opportunity to donate while consuming the media. “Fundraising is a social thing. Fundraising is empowering people to organize a story and empower people around you,” Serres says. “We are specifically designed to help organizations better tell their story and by telling their story raise money online.”