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Why Does Upsolve Believe in Earning Revenue?

2 minute read Upsolve is a nonprofit that helps you get out of debt with education and free debt relief tools, like our bankruptcy filing tool. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. Get free education, customer support, and community. Featured in Forbes 4x and funded by institutions like Harvard University so we'll never ask you for a credit card.  Explore our free tool

In a Nutshell

Earning revenue makes Upsolve a more sustainable, effective, and impactful nonprofit.

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated February 16, 2023

Dear Community,

Since Day 1 at Upsolve, the thing that has kept us up at night is finding an answer to the question: How are we going to fund this thing?

You can have great ideas about how to make the world a better place, but unless you figure out how to fund your ideas, you won’t actually help anyone. This is why for-profit companies more often reach a scale that nonprofit organizations do not.

At first, we just relied on donations and grants to fund our free service. But that had three major shortcomings.

1. We couldn't fundraise fast enough to keep up with the demand for our free service.

For our first year at Upsolve, we had just one paid staff member. For our second year, we had a couple more. The reason we were so small is that we weren’t able to raise enough donations to hire more people. And with such a small team, we couldn’t reach the number of low-income families that we wanted to help.

2. Fundraising took up too much time.

Fundraising is a time-intensive process, as you need to meet with lots of people to get them to donate. Spending time fundraising meant that we spent less time helping people. Many nonprofits spend a lot of time — and money that pays for that time — on pitching to donors. This creates a problem where organizations need to fundraise so that they can keep fundraising.

3. Fundraising was unreliable.

When applying for grants or relying on charitable foundations, we never knew exactly how much we would get and when we would get the funding. It's hard to hire when your cash flow is unpredictable.

Shift to Fundraising and Earning Revenue

In early 2019, we learned that we could also generate revenue to fund our free service. We realized that people were coming to our site who were a better fit for local attorneys and that local attorneys would be willing to pay to provide a free evaluation.

Being able to generate revenue solved the three shortcomings of relying on just fundraising to stay alive:

1. Our revenue now grows with the number of people we help. As our web traffic grows, we help more low-income families who qualify for our free service and generate more revenue to support them.

2. We no longer spend as much time on fundraising. Instead, we focus more on how to improve our product, our customer service, and our content.

3. We can reliably hire people, knowing that we have dependable revenue, free from unpredictable funders, next year and in years to come.

Earning revenue is not and never will be our main goal. We could be generating over twice as much revenue if we shut down our free service and connected people with attorneys. But that's not the point of Upsolve. Our north star is the number of low-income families we serve each year, and it always will be.

Earned revenue is the fuel that allows us to achieve our mission of helping low-income families across the United States. It allows us to attract and retain the best talent, which is critical to addressing the big problem that we're going after. It allows us to hire more engineers to create a better free product, more writers to produce better free content, and more customer success advocates to provide more free guidance.

As a nonprofit, we have no investors. 100% of our revenue gets re-invested into our organization.

Earning revenue makes Upsolve a more sustainable, effective, and impactful nonprofit.

Best, Jonathan Petts, CEO and Co-Founder Rohan Pavuluri, Co-Founder

Written By:

Jonathan Petts


Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and CEO of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in bankrupt... read more about Jonathan Petts

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families resolve their debt and fix their credit using free software tools. Our team includes debt experts and engineers who care deeply about making the financial system accessible to everyone. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.