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Form Dash is making fundraising easier for nonprofits

Alyssa Nolte has been the head coach of the Cedar Falls Dance Team for nearly ten years and says the most frustrating part of the job is fundraising.

“It costs about $20,000 a year to run a dance team. So we are doing a lot of fundraising throughout the year,” said Nolte. “I have 20 teenage girls on the team and I give them these fundraising forms. Th day the forms were we were supposed to meet and half the people forgot their forms, I couldn’t read the handwriting ad was just really frustrated by that.”

So a few years back Nolte decided to create her own solution, Form Dash. Form Dash is an online platform created to make fundraising easier for nonprofit groups by taking paper out of the fundraising equation.

“After using Form Dash for about six months as my own solution other coaches who I know in the dance world started to notice I was using this online application and asked if they could also use it,” said Nolte. “So I started letting other coaches use it and it has really just grown organically from there.”

Form Dash is designed to feel very familiar to a traditional e-commerce type experience. The platform takes any kind of form nonprofit groups are using, converts form to digital format and turns it into a landing page.

“All they have to do is send their customers to their custom landing page and they can fill out the form, pay with a credit card and really streamline that process,” said Nolte. “And then all of the data feeds live into a backend spreadsheet that allows organizers to check in on their fundraiser.”

Earlier this year, Form Dash received a $40,000 seed investment from the Red Cedar Seed Fund in Cedar Falls.

“All of the money raised is going towards scaling the platform,” said Nolte. “It’s all about getting more customers, more people using the platform and really grow our customer bases. Form Dash operationally already pays for itself. So we’re not putting the money towards the operations side of the business. It’s really all about developing a customer base.”

Form Dash is making fundraising easier for nonprofits | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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