By: Carly Friedman
I recently had an insightful conversation with some smart, thoughtful and Jewishly engaged young families who are monthly donors through MyTzedakah. I asked them a few questions about their charitable giving traits – how they make decisions on what gets added to their monthly fund – and they gave me the most interesting insight.
They told me they would not add a certain cause to their fund but that they would maybe give $100, one-time, if they had a significant campaign running for something important. I asked them why they wouldn’t just donate $8/month, instead of $100 one-time? And they thought about it and said…
“my MyTzedakah fund is my ideological commitment. The causes in it are me and this specific cause does not fit. I only want my monthly support to go to the causes that feel essentially ME.”
I was pretty blown away to hear it so succinctly. It’s true, and it’s the reason we created MyTzedakah: donors want to commit to the causes that they feel overwhelmingly and essentially define them. Your MyTzedakah fund is an ideological commitment, something intentional and thoughtful. There’s always room for one-time donations, but here’s the point: when you want to actually bring a cause into your life, make it a part of who you are, it deserves a place in your MyTzedakah fund.
Disrupting Tzedakah Giving
We’re growing, here at MyTzedakah. And when we collaborate with partners and investors, the one thing they’re all excited about is that we’re disrupting the status quo, we’re radicalizing the entire process of tzedakah giving.
Currently, crowdfunding campaigns and fundraising efforts are chaotic – they rely on emergencies, guilt and pressure. Organizations spend months fundraising, just to get people to donate at the end of the year or during Rosh Hashanah. All of those resources – time, (wo)man-power, money spent – just trying to make money so they can continue their programming, is a burden and a waste of talent.
And they have no idea how much they’ll actually make from those major campaigns (usually run through programs that take a significant cut of proceeds), making it impossible to program, plan and operate efficiently. MyTzedakah is flipping that entire process on its head. We’re asking donors to choose. Choose in moments of calm. Choose without guilt, pressure or urgency. Make lasting choices and commit to them.
Here’s what happens when you don’t make those calm choices:
A popular food packaging/welfare organization in Israel that provides food and supplies to needy families told me that they spend so much time, money and man-power trying to raise money to support hungry and destitute children all year round, but they only receive donations during the holidays. Every summer they panic and fall apart because no one thinks to donate during May-August… but there are still starving kids! They tell me over and over: what we need is monthly donations, we need to be able to provide life-saving sustenance to these children all year long, not just during the holidays.
Another nonprofit told us that they’re always scrambling to come up with “sexy” campaigns to get people to donate, when most of the time what they need is to restock their ambulatory supplies. They said if we knew we had $1,000 coming in every single month, we’d be able to restock every single month. If we knew we had $500 every month we’d be able to pay the very expensive bill to maintain our life-saving program. But they don’t have that monthly security.
Nonprofits need monthly recurring revenue. It’s unquestionably THE most impactful way to give.
Chasing the Big Fish
Many nonprofits rely on those few major donors every year. A nonprofit director once told me that he was guilty of chasing the big donors until he sat in a lecture given by a Harvard professor that changed his perspective. The professor said “old school nonprofits are guilty of the same thing: chasing the big fish. But your $100,000 donor can maybe turn into $200,000 after painstaking time and cultivation. If you cultivated and sustained 1000 donors who give $100 each, your potential for big donations has grown exponentially and you’d have a large group of ambassadors for your cause.”
When nonprofits rely on a few major donors to sustain their organization, they are placing their existence on the donor’s ability to sustain the cause. If your benefactor has a rough year financially, your cause may be the first thing that gets cut. But micro-donors don’t pull their $18/month donations. For the most part, micro-donors can always afford their monthly giving, because it’s not a large and cumbersome number, and they’ve already made the ideological commitment.
There’s another major lesser known factor at play here: the “big fish” donors are sometimes the ones pulling the strings and pushing the agendas. When nonprofits are beholden to no one, when they can run themselves like a business with monthly recurring revenue, when their operations and programs are supported by thousands of micro-dollars and fans of their work, they can operate with real transparency and integrity.
So, what’s our goal?
We want to get you all to change the way you think about your potential impact and change the way you give to charity — simply by giving what you can and actually providing more stability and security than those who give the end of the year checks.
Our goal at MyTzedakah is to enable donors to get into the habit of authentic, consistent and sustaining tzedakah giving, to be ideologically committed to charities all year long. There will be no such thing as relying on the top 5% of wealthy individuals to sustain the charities of the world – tzedakah will be democratized, with all of us contributing what we can, impactfully and intentionally.
Our vision is authentic, disruptive and sorely needed in the Jewish philanthropic world.
And together, we’re going to be the ones to change the game.
Be a game changer, make your monthly fund today: https://mytzedakah.com