Nonprofits are getting pummeled by the effects of coronavirus, as donation dollars dry up and fundraising events move to less lucrative online formats. And according to the Nonprofit Finance Fund, only 25% of nonprofits typically have enough cash on hand to last more than six months.
So while nonprofits increasingly rely on the written word to court donations, AI-enabled writing assistance company Grammarly will be extending complimentary premium subscriptions during this time to nonprofits around the world. Grammarly currently plans to provide to qualifying organizations access to the service through the end of 2020. The company will not require any financial information upfront and says this could equal a product donation of up to $500 million in the US alone.
“As we thought about the importance of communication for many of these organizations to actually deliver their services, it’s very significant,” said San Francisco-based Brad Hoover, who was an investor at General Catalyst before becoming Grammarly’s CEO in 2011. “We created this offering specifically for NGOs and nonprofits to really give them the freedom to focus on the work that they’re doing instead of spending extra time on their communications.”
Grammarly initially focused on, as the name suggests, grammar. It was founded by Max Lytvyn, Alex Shevchenko and Dmytro Lider in Kiev, Ukraine, after Lytvyn and Shevchenko founded and sold a plagiarism detector to Blackboard. Though the company’s headquarters is now in San Francisco, the Kiev office houses the majority of its 280 employees.
MORE FOR YOU
Now in its eleventh year and touting over 20 million daily users, the company has moved beyond simple grammar corrections (in addition to having raised $202 million at a $2.3 billion valuation, according to PitchBook). Originally the product was designed to be used by professors and students, but it has since expanded to have multiple enterprise offerings. Grammarly’s basic offering remains free and it has introduced a $30 per month (or $140 per year) premium option and a $12.50 per user per month business option. The additional AI-enabled features include critiques on tone and style that can be customized to the type of writing.
So far, most enterprise companies like Zoom and Adobe have focused on providing software to educators. Noting that the company already provides discounted options for educational institutions, Grammarly says it elected to focus on a sector that hasn’t gotten as much attention. They worked with nonprofits over the past month to design a tailored offering that fits the specific needs of nonprofits.
“As part of the evaluation process as to whether or not this would be impactful, we received really strong feedback about what we’re able to do in terms of helping nonprofits spend less time on communications so they can spend more time on delivering the mission,” explained Grammarly Business General Manager Dorian Stone, who is leading the initiative for the company. “[Coronavirus] just added a lot of strain in the nonprofit segment that we wanted to help alleviate.”