Gabe Cooper: Virtuous

January 26th 2021

In this episode, we talk with Gabe Cooper, the CEO of Virtuous which is a responsive nonprofit fundraising platform and CRM. During our conversation, Gabe shares his motivation for starting Virtuous, what he believes makes a successful nonprofit, and their greatest challenge in running the organization.


Gabe Cooper is the CEO of Virtuous, a responsive nonprofit fundraising platform and CRM. Virtuous gives nonprofits the ability to activate new supporters, deepen existing partnerships, assist with marketing, and serves as a CRM all-in-one. Their company currently has a little over 30 employees and is continuing to grow. 

Gabe began his career in software development during the dot-com boom and later transitioned into working at a nonprofit leading their technical team. Since then, he has started three businesses: an agency, a golfing application, and now, Virtuous. 

His motivation for starting Virtuous and continuing work in the nonprofit sector:

“Giving your time, talent, money away is one of the most personal things you’ll ever do. Super close to your heart. If you have a family member that gets cancer, you’ll give to cancer research. If you adopt a pet, that pet becomes part of your family. The entire rest of the world - Amazon, Netflix, Strava, they are all hyper-personalized to me. They are giving me super personal experiences. My experiences when I give to a nonprofit are hyper-impersonal. That should not be the case in 2020.” 

What successful nonprofits are made of: 

  1. They break down silos. Marketing teams talk to sales teams. They talk about what is going on between each area of the organization.
  2. Listen more than they talk. Great nonprofits will listen to their donors and prioritize building relationships. 
  3. They ruthlessly innovate. They are taking notes from startups and incorporating some of those innovative processes. 

Why they spent so much time developing their software before releasing it: 

“If we’re going to sell an enterprise solution as a system of record to nonprofits who depend on our software day in and day out, it can’t be half-baked.”

“I like the fail fast mentality: ‘Fail fast and iterate.’ What I like even better is not failing quite as much.”

His advice to anyone starting a business: 

“If you don't know the vertical or the domain, don’t start something there. Start something around what you know and care about deeply. It’s going to give you so much traction. I know you may think it’s boring or less sexy...Start with what you know, because it’s going to be so much more successful.”

Their greatest challenge:

“Our biggest challenge is attracting and retaining great talent and making sure our culture pushes through the whole organization in a meaningful way.”

Additional Links:

Learn more about Virtuous:

Follow along with Gabe:

Gabe mentions the book and methodology called The Lean Startup, you can check it out here:

Another book mentioned is called What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz about creating company culture. You can find it here:

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