Business Plan Challenge

Nonprofits are businesses, too. Understanding that was key to firm’s success

From left, Soraya Rivera-Moya, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities; Narangely Carrero Carrero and 9-month old Amaury; Dave Blyer, president and CEO of Arreva at Ronald McDonald House in Northwest Miami.
From left, Soraya Rivera-Moya, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities; Narangely Carrero Carrero and 9-month old Amaury; Dave Blyer, president and CEO of Arreva at Ronald McDonald House in Northwest Miami. rkoltun@miamiherald.com

If the Great Recession was bad for business, it was even worse for nonprofits. That insight led David Blyer to launch DonorCommunity, which won the 2011 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The company formally launched its web-based platform in 2012. Originally the company aimed to created an online fundraising tool to help organizations connect with donors and track results. “You could compete with a large organization, but with very little staff,” Blyer said.

It wasn’t long before he realized many nonprofits had even broader needs. “As we continued to scale, we began to notice that many of our customers (and the marketplace as a whole) needed a more comprehensive, integrated solution for managing all donor, volunteer, member, and other stakeholder data.”

In 2012, DonorCommunity acquired online portal Micro Giving. About a year ago, it joined forces with 30-year-old California-based Telosa Software to form Arreva. Blyer is CEO; Telosa’s leader, Susan Packard Orr, is chairman. Its headquarters is in Fort Lauderdale.

Today the company serves more than 3,000 customers worldwide, in the U.S., Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and is planning offices in Bogota, Colombia, and Bangalore, India. Clients include Boys & Girls Club, YWCA, Humane Society, Meals on Wheels, Heart Gallery and Jewish Federation of Broward. More than 120 Ronald McDonald House Charities worldwide — including the one in Miami — use the software.

When DonorCommunity entered the Business Plan Challenge, the company was already well into creating the road map by which is still operates. “That road map is a direction about where you’re going with the product, when you’re hiring people, how much money do you actually need? It’s all of those things that every entrepreneur faces every day.”

Winning the Challenge gave Blyer’s burgeoning company a boost.

“While we already knew we had achieved product/market fit and had some great customers, winning the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge helped to spread the word around to local organizations. It was a turning point with many of these nonprofits (that are now customers) where they realized that they didn’t have to spend so much time just managing and organizing data, and that there are all of these new ways to raise money. Our software allowed them to reduce that administrative effort, and spend more time raising money for their mission.’’

His advice: “Write a business plan, have a road map, solve a problem and believe in what you are doing. Don’t let anyone stop you.’’

2011 Winner: Arreva (formerly DonorCommunity)

Milestones

2010: Formed idea for integrated fundraising platform, DonorCommunity

2011: Won Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge

2012: Launched platform, acquired Microgiving

2017: Joined with Telosa Software to create Arreva

Keys to success

▪ Taking an innovative approach to helping nonprofits solve their data management issues

▪ Providing new ways for organizations to raise money online

▪ An enthusiastic, dedicated team that believes in our core values and mission

Biggest challenges

Letting the world know about how our solution can help them create more awareness, cultivate existing donors, reach new donors and provide a facility to raise more money

Best advice received

Stay focused, don’t listen to the critics, be persistent and be patient

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