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Durango entrepreneur looks to revolutionize charitable giving with new app

Matt Taylor, former CEO of Mercury, launches AidtoAll

The former CEO who led Durango startup Mercury as it revolutionized online payment processing is poised to disrupt a new sector: charitable giving.

Matt Taylor, who retired from FIS Worldpay on New Year’s Eve 2019, on Monday launched AidtoAll, a website to provide a convenient way for people to help their neighbors suffering financial loses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The app provides a fast, secure, direct and timely way for residents of La Plata County who are struggling with job losses, cut hours and other financial blows suffered during the pandemic get assistance from more fortunate members of the community – anyone who can provide donations, often as small as $10 or $25 a month.

The idea is to test the app this month in La Plata County, and, if all goes smoothly, offer the app to communities across the country that want to use the software and the technology to provide a vetted, secure way for people to make small donations to help others in their own communities.

“When COVID hit, first I saw it through the eyes of a parent. I’m like, What is happening?” Taylor said.

His concern led him to read medical abstracts and he realized no one – least of all small rural communities like Durango – was prepared to deal with what likely was coming.

“I know people who live paycheck to paycheck. They have multiple jobs to make ends meet,” he said.

He also noted the nature of COVID-19 was felt unequally – with some people like restaurant and hotel workers more susceptible to job losses and cut wages than employees at grocers.

“It was a bit like a lottery ticket,” he said about how COVID-19 dished out economic pain.

As Taylor looked for established charities to find ways through which people could make donations to help their neighbors, he discovered no easy or convenient way to do it.

Taylor realized his time honing payment processing technology efficiency provided him the skill set, knowledge and network of contacts to do something similar with charitable giving.

“I couldn’t not do this. I said, ‘Why don’t we already have something this.’ It was unbelievable to me like this didn’t already exist. And I knew I could make it work,” he said.

Amy Voida, assistant professor of information science at the University of Colorado Boulder, said the nonprofit world has been a slow adopter of digital technology, software and other information technology. She added, the nonprofit world can only benefit when technology savvy business leaders refocus their efforts to aid charities gain efficiencies from information technology now commonplace in private business.

“I think a lot of people want to help their communities right now, and technology provides a safe and secure venue where people can help each other. And I think this idea of communities helping from within through technology is an exciting niche to explore.

The initial $65,120 seed money for the AidtoAll Fund was provided by Taylor and other residents he knows in La Plata County. Now that the website is up and running, Taylor would like to see the development of a virtuous cycle of donations from community members seeking to help their less-fortunate neighbors.

“When we leverage the resources we have within our own communities we can be resilient,” he said.

Donations, which are tax exempt, will be taken through Aug. 27. Donations are not limited to La Plata County resident and can come from anywhere.

Eventually, donations from major philanthropic foundations like the Ford Foundation or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation might prove to be another revenue stream.

People seeking assistance through AidtoAll will need to register on the website and provide their financial information – income, and household expenses – which will be verified with the same standards and rigor used by banks in processing loans.

The deadline to apply for assistance is Aug. 16.

A funding committee composed of Mike Burns, regional president of Alpine Bank; Scott Shine, city of Durango planning manager; Roger Zalneraitis, economic development manager with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Permanent Fund; and Ashley Tarkington, mayor of Bayfield, provides advice to AidtoAll to ensure no one or no group in the community is being missed. The committee also offers advice on procedures and practices to AidtoAll, which is a 501(c)(3).

At the end of each month, AidtoAll will begin filling requests for assistance, and the process will be repeated monthly.

Funds will be disbursed at the end of the month in grants ranging from $250 to $1,500 in the form of a pre-paid, reloadable credit card.

AidtoAll’s development, administrative and managerial costs have been kept low – virtually everyone involved in development has worked on a voluntary basis with Taylor and a few friends covering whatever expenses have emerged.

Taylor said all donations made to AidtoAll will go out in the form of financial assistance on a dollar-to-dollar basis to people in need.

Once proof of concept is achieved, Taylor believes future operating and administrative costs for AidtoAll can be covered by grants from large charitable foundations.

Briggen Wrinkle, executive director of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, said if AidtoAll can help individuals meet their immediate financial needs, it will provide space where other nonprofits – whether involved in food insecurity, health care, homelessness or other issues – better deal with root causes of problems.

“I think Matt has a really new take on an old problem, which is helping individuals. And what I hope is that AidtoAll can provide an algorithm that could meet people’s immediate needs,” Wrinkle said.

If AidtoAll is successful, Wrinkle believes it will help other nonprofits deal with deeper issues causing problems. Perhaps a food pantry could go beyond providing a family’s next meal – helping them with budgeting skills and reducing the likelihood they would need assistance in the future.

parmijo@durangoherald.com

This story has been updated to clarify the role of AidtoAll’s funding committee and to note donations are tax exempt.

Sep 26, 2021
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