Our Story

We're on a mission to mobilize & empower the world for good

Classy is a social enterprise that creates world-class online fundraising software for nonprofits, modernizing the giving experience to accelerate social impact around the world. Since 2011, we've enabled millions of donations from over 190 countries. Based in San Diego, CA, Classy is trusted by more than 4,000+ organizations of all sizes and causes, from major events like disease outbreaks, disasters, mass shootings, and social movements, to mainstay world challenges like environmental issues, child trafficking, human rights, and animal rights.

First Platform

The first fundraising campaign on the Classy platform was our own.

Back in 2006, a group of my friends and I decided that we wanted to dedicate some of our spare time to fundraise for an important cause that was near and dear to our own hearts — the fight against cancer. My mother had battled breast cancer twice as I was growing up, and most of my friends also had similar stories.

Our initial fundraising idea was simple… really simple. The idea was to get our friends together for a pub crawl in Pacific Beach, San Diego and donate the extra cash to the American Cancer Society. As we were coming up with the idea, the movie Anchorman with Will Ferrell happened to be playing in our apartment, and we quickly jumped at the chance to name our first fundraiser after Ron Burgundy’s catchphrase in the movie, “You Stay Classy, San Diego”. And thus, the StayClassy charity pub crawl was born.

Over the course of the next four years we hosted dozens of fundraising events in our spare time: first pub crawls, then concerts, then races and more. Each event benefited local nonprofit organizations, and engaged young people in philanthropy in new and cool ways.

However, as time went on, we began to uncover a much greater challenge than how to simply rally our friends together to raise money. It started with our experience donating to the American Cancer Society after our first event, and became more obvious as we worked closely with our nonprofit partners. It boiled down to this:

A new wave of young people were hungry to change the world, but nonprofits seemed to be missing the opportunity to engage these modern philanthropists in a meaningful way.

We realized that if the overall experience of giving (especially online giving) wasn’t improved for this next generation of philanthropists, nonprofits — and the causes they champion — would be in trouble. Someone needed to step in and help fill this gap. And so, we set off to build an online fundraising platform that would help connect our young event attendees with our nonprofit beneficiaries in a more meaningful way. At first the Classy platform simply facilitated the event registration and the peer-to-peer fundraising leading up to our own events, but within a short amount of time, it was easy to see the potential of what we had built. Our attendees were using the platform to tell their own story and raise money from family and friends with this simple, intuitive and modern tool at their disposal. The result? Our fundraising events started raising more money than ever.

So in January 2011, five years after the original StayClassy charity pub crawl, we launched a much improved version of the Classy fundraising platform and opened it up to any nonprofit organization that wanted to use it for its own campaigns and events. From that point forward we began focusing 100% of our time on fulfilling this new vision of an improved giving experience for every cause-based organization in the world.

Today, Classy is a staff of 220+ people and serves 4,000+ nonprofit organizations and social enterprises around the world including Oxfam, The World Food Programme and National Geographic. Through a combination of online fundraising, mobile and community engagement tools, our platform helps organizations create a better giving experience for their own supporters, so they can spend their time tackling humanity’s greatest challenges.

Our team is eight years in so far, yet we have never been more energetic and motivated to tackle the challenges ahead. As the world’s problems grow more complex, it’s going to take a united & global effort to ensure that future generations inherit a planet that they can be proud of. Nonprofits and social enterprises are on the front lines trying to make this a reality and our ability to help people support these efforts has never been more important.

Scot Chisholm - CEO & Co-Founder
Scot Chisholm's signature

Scot Chisholm • CEO & Co-Founder

    • Friends Scot Chisholm, Pat Walsh, and Marshall Peden host the StayClassy Pub Crawl benefiting the American Cancer Society. The name came from Ron Burgundy&rsquo;s catchphrase in the movie <em>Anchorman</em>, which happened to be playing when they were deciding on a name for the pub crawl.
    • Classy hosts dozens of fundraising events to engage local San Diego millennials in philanthropy. Events range from concerts, walks/runs and other social events, and each event benefits a nonprofit organization including Wounded Warrior Project, Surfrider Foundation, and San Diego Youth Services.
    • Classy mobilizes an emergency collection drive in response to the California wildfires, distributing truckloads of supplies to local shelters. The drive became one of San Diego County&rsquo;s largest community-driven relief efforts.
    • Scot & Pat quit their day jobs and conceive of an online fundraising platform to help accelerate the impact of their own fundraising events. Pete Nystrom and Joe Callahan join the team, to lead engineering and design, respectively.
    • Alpha version of Classy software launches, and is used to raise money and accept registrations at Classy's own fundraising events.
    • Classy hosts 5,000-person music festival featuring Matisyahu, Mason Jennings & Bassnecter. First use of peer-to-peer fundraising on the platform benefiting San Diego Youth Services.
    • Classy hosts fundraising tailgate concert with the San Diego Padres featuring Cage the Elephant & Del the Funky Homo Sapien. First use of registration with fundraising on the platform.
    • Classy hosts the 1st Annual CLASSY Awards, to recognize the amazing work of hundreds of local San Diego nonprofit organizations.
    • Classy beta launches with a dozen local San Diego nonprofit organizations.
    • The 2nd Annual CLASSY Awards expands rapidly, attracting nominations from 8 cities nationwide; winners are announced onstage at the Awards Ceremony in San Diego.
    • Classy publicly launches its online fundraising platform, open to any nonprofit organization in the United States. Two dozen nonprofit organizations raise $500K on the platform in in its first year.
    • The 3rd Annual CLASSY Awards becomes a national event - attracting nominations from 49 states across the country. 1,500 people fly to San Diego for the Awards Ceremony.
    • Kony 2012 by Invisible Children becomes the most popular viral video of all time, with over 150 million views, and the largest nonprofit crowdfunding campaign ever, raising more than $4m on Classy in less than 60 days.
    • More than 2,400 organizations are nominated for the 4th Annual CLASSY Awards. Classy creates the Leadership Council, a diverse group of prestigious leaders and experts in the social sector, to determine the national winners.
    • Hurricane Sandy hits the east coast of the United States and over $750k is raised to aid the relief effort across several organizations. Largest disaster response effort on the platform to-date.
    • Classy passes 100 customers including, Invisible Children, Pencils of Promise, FEED, To Write Love on Her Arms, F Cancer, Team Rubicon, Bright Pink and Imerman Angels.
    • Classy closes Series A financing.
    • SEAL Family Foundation raises over $650K on Classy for the Ty Woods Memorial Fund, the CIA Operative who was killed in combat during the Benghazi embassy attack in 2012. Company milestone, not exactly. Much respect, without a doubt.
    • Pencils of Promise passes $1M raised on the Classy platform and breaks ground on more than 100 schools. Becomes the 5th organization to raise over $1M on the Classy platform.
    • Malala Yousafzai launches her nonprofit organization, the Malala Fund, and uses Classy to launch its first campaign and raises over $450K to empower girls through education. Largest “first campaign” for any organization on the platform to-date.
    • University of California launches its first-ever crowdfunding campaign on Classy and raises over $1M for low-income student scholarships. First higher-ed organization to use the Classy platform.
    • Classy platform breaks single day donation record with over $725K raised on December 31, 2013.
    • In partnership with the United Nations Foundation, 3,600 programs in 115 countries are evaluated for the 5th Annual CLASSY Awards, making it one of the largest and most prestigious awards in the social sector.
    • Classy passes 1,000 customers including Oxfam America, National Geographic, World Food Program USA, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation &amp; Special Olympics World Games 2015.
    • Classy surpasses $100M in total donations raised since its launch in January 2011.
    • Salesforce Ventures announces investment in Classy to help transform the giving experience for every cause-based organization in the world.
    • Classy launches the One Million Meals campaign with the Salesforce.com Foundation to bring one million meals to people in need around the world.
    Jake Wood Headshot
    The Classy platform has transformed the way that people around the world support Team Rubicon veterans as we respond to natural disasters.
    Team Rubicon
    Jake Wood CEO & Co-FounderTeam Rubicon
    Adam Braun Headshot
    Over the past four years, the Classy platform has become absolutely essential to Pencils of Promise as we bring life-changing education to children around the world.
    Pencils of Promise
    Adam Braun FounderPencils of Promise
    Scott Harrison Headshot
    With the Classy platform, now any social impact organization can easily activate and empower their community at a fraction of the cost and time.
    charity: water
    Scott Harrison CEOcharity: water