Charity Brings Meaning To Rental Transactions

COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on the impressive variety of crowd-funding and fundraising platforms and technologies available – and not often in places you’d expect, as is evident in the case of PayProp, South Africa’s largest rental payment processor.

The GivenGain Foundation, an international non-profit fundraising platform and PayProp’s fellow group company in the Humanstate stable, reported recently that during lockdown in South Africa, they processed millions of Rands in donations for charitable causes.

On the 5th of May, #givingtuesdaynow, GivenGain saw an increase of 140% in unique visitors to the platform and an increase of 175% in donation value, compared to its daily platform averages for 2020 year-to-date.

Better to give than receive 

In the case of many fundraising platforms, companies become commercially successful before giving back, but in the case of GivenGain, it’s the other way around, says PayProp SA CEO, Jan Davel.

Davel says the company’s story began with two brothers coming together under the belief that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’, and in 2001 GivenGain came to life. Once it had gained popularity as a fundraising tool for non-profit organisations (NPOs), the brothers took the core transactional engine and applied it to a payment platform for the property industry, and with that, PayProp was formed in 2004.

“The history of PayProp and the journey of its founders reveals a softer side to us that isn’t widely known,” says Davel. “Our philanthropic roots have given rise to a company culture and ethos that is a far cry from your usual commercial operation – so much so that all of us at Humanstate are encouraged to take an additional day’s leave each month to take part in a charitable activity outside of work through our internal Humanstate Heroes initiative. I think that’s pretty rare.”

Today, PayProp provides support to the GivenGain Foundation, with the two platforms benefiting from common infrastructure as well as shared support services such as marketing. Because of PayProp’s support, GivenGain is able to charge charities only a small 5% administrative fee on donations, a sum that is entirely reinvested into the platform in order to maintain and improve it. This means that, as with PayProp, clients only have to pay when they receive money. Since all donations are managed by the GivenGain Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation held to the highest standards of transparency, donors can be certain that their money goes to the charity.

And in practice, charities typically pay even less than this already modest amount. Since GivenGain introduced an option for donors to cover the fee themselves, more than 90% of them have chosen to do so.

Davel says that a number of PayProp’s employees have embarked on their own fundraising efforts over the course of the pandemic. “In the Western Cape, client care specialist Angelo Lawrence has focused on raising funds for the Kylemore Charity Foundation’s COVID-19 response, whilst PayProp’s head of data and analytics, Johette Smuts, has run a fundraising campaign for Ladles of Love, a non-profit soup kitchen based in Cape Town.”

These South African employees have been joined in their efforts to raise funds for South African charities by PayProp employees who live and work abroad, such as communications lead, Carel Alberts, who lives and works in the UK, pledged to shave his head if he raised £500 for the Cape of Good Hope SPCA in the first five days of May. After raising just short of his target, he set the clippers to #5 instead. Head of legal, Josua Loots, who is based in Switzerland, has been supporting Ya Bana Village, a child and youth care centre in Gauteng that has also started distributing food parcels.

In it with you

Davel says PayProp’s service-based ethos further contributes to it considering itself not just a service provider to the real estate industry, but an integral part thereof.

“The industry’s challenges are our challenges, and its success is our success. We are committed to delivering the same level of service to our clients, despite our own initial challenges of converting to a fully distributed workforce,” says Davel.

He adds that the company is doing its best to be of help in other ways too. Where other service providers might charge a fixed fee for services and products, even over a period when there are significantly fewer transactions taking place, PayProp charges a variable service fee based on the amount of rent that estate agents process on the PayProp payment platform.

“If real estate agents aren’t processing anything at all, then we don’t get paid any service fee either. We might be in different boats, but we’re all in the same storm,” says Davel.