Pray.com, an interfaith social networking app for members of religious communities, has raised a $14 million Series A led by TPG Growth. Previous investors Science Inc. and Greylock Partners also returned for the round, which brings the Santa Monica-based startup’s total funding, including a seed round announced last June, to $16 million.
Founded in 2016, the app was created to give faith communities who had previously relied on Facebook groups, group texts or email chains to stay in touch a tailor-made place to chat, request prayers and donate money to non-profits and religious organizations. Religious leaders also get access to analytics to gauge how many people they reach through Pray.com so they can grow their community’s membership.
Pray.com’s newest funding will be used for product development, including the addition of live audio and video, which can be used to broadcast sermons and music performances, and features to help communities fundraise for causes and events. Pray.com founder and chief executive officer Steve Gatena told TechCrunch in an email that it also wants to build “the world’s largest directory of faith organizations.”
Since its seed round, Gatena says Pray.com has signed up users in more than 185 countries and now has more than 20,000 religious communities on the app. It also participated in a recent hackathon hosted by the Vatican.
Even though one might expect Pray.com’s users to be mostly younger people who already rely on social networks to stay connected with almost everyone in their lives, Gatena says Pray.com covers a wide range of demographics because many people invite their families and friends to the app to join groups. So far, users have created groups dedicated to youth sports, mission trips, addiction recovery, cancer treatment and mental health issues like depression and recovery, among other topics.
“While the youth might have been some of the first to find us, we see our most vibrant activity from women across the country and around the world who are active in their local communities and want to strengthen offline connections through digital prayer requests, praise reports and words of encouragement,” Gatena said.
In a press statement, Science Inc. chief executive officer Michael Jones said “We’re blown away by the continued impact Pray.com has had on its members and are excited to see how the platform will scale to inspire more people to connect with their faith leaders, unite and heal through prayer and give back to their communities.”
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