The Software Agents: Episode 10 - A Software Platform for Big Philanthropy

Written by: Christina Noren

3 min read

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The Software Agents is a new podcast series sponsored by CloudBees. Each week, we bring you a leader reinventing a different field through software for the new world that is being born. Listen to this week's episode.

Our guest this week on The Software Agents is Madeline Duva, CEO of Fluxx. Her company develops a sort of Salesforce for philanthropic grants management. Fluxx is used by many of the largest foundations– Ford, MacArthur, Knight, Ikea and others–to find, fund and track the work of myriad nonprofits. 

Madeline says her mission is to “democratize philanthropy,” removing the mountains of redundant forms, standalone computer systems and siloed organizations that made it hard for small nonprofits working on the ground in crisis hotspots to find potential grants, apply for them, navigate rules and regulations and report regularly on their progress.

Madeline, who moved to the Bay Area with an economics degree and worked early on at Fidelity, didn’t come to software through programming or IT as many of our Software Agents guests do. But she quickly jumped into work for a spinoff of legendary SRI, followed that with a few more startups. She eventually arrived at Fluxx 10 years ago with a clear vision of how software could not only remove labor and latency from the grants process, but enable new connections, new ideas and new projects.

The pandemic and lockdowns have jolted those in philanthropy - donors and nonprofit workers - to a new level of awareness and urgency. Madeline explains in our talk that COVID-19, climate change, a new awareness of racial injustice and now this year’s wildfires have forced all parties to pause and re-evaluate what they do and how.

Fluxx’s focus isn’t the small-donor world of GoFundMe. It’s the top tier of a $450 million annual cash flow, roughly a third of it granted from large foundations with long-term experience, ample budgets and big-picture strategic thinking. Both these foundations and the nonprofits they fund can be overwhelmed by the overhead of managing applications, navigating regulatory processes and reporting on progress and results.

Fluxx provides a hub where donors can maintain a profile, submit applications to multiple foundations through a single sign-on system and replace annual reports with live dashboards that track key metrics.

We talked longer than usual, but I think you’ll find it worth your time. Madeline’s insight into vision, mission and product are CPO-level sharp. Her approach to building Fluxx’s software echoes The Software Agents’ more hands-on technologist guests: Your customers understand the problems better than you. They know the cultural and regulatory roadblocks. You know of possible solutions to which they’ve never been exposed.  When you work together, you can transform the field in ways never before imagined.

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