By: Carly Friedman
Hey everyone! Carly here. I thought it was about time I properly introduced myself and explained a bit about how My Tzedakah Fund was created…
My Tzedakah Fund has been my baby for four years now. I came up with the idea around the same time I had my first child, Noa. I was 27, starting a family, with five years of consistency in the workforce and it felt like a real pivotal moment in my life. I was starting to establish myself, creating life, and deciding what kind of person I wanted to be. I had my entire life budgeted and planned and I realized I hadn’t made any serious plans for my charitable giving.
I’ve spent my life working with and for Jewish nonprofits. I’ve always felt like my life could have taken me in a million different directions but I knew deep down that the only thing that would truly satisfy me and get me excited to wake up every morning was if I dedicated myself to making the world a better place, particularly, the Jewish community.
Throughout my 10 years in the non profit space, I learned a lot about how charities operate, how they get their funding, and how they plan for the future. There’s nothing more fragile, more frustrating and more rewarding than working for a Jewish nonprofit.
It is fragile because the world tends to be skeptical of us. Charities rely on foundations and major donors to support their life’s work. Charities need to prove their worth every year. People who work for charities need to prove their salaries. Everyone must overproduce. Foundations and philanthropists receive no return on their investment, besides for feeling good about themselves. So charities have to cater to their good feelings. Charities are indebted to the selflessness of their donors. It’s a fragile ecosystem.
It is frustrating. Beyond frustrating. People who work for charities work to make the world a better place. Their work is GODLY. But they are paid far less, they have to prove their worth far more, and oftentimes they know that anyone in the for-profit space thinks of them as “less than.” It’s a strange reality that we reward people with vapid, materialistic, vanity careers with large salaries and accolades, and we hold back the selfless visionaries who are dedicated to giving back to others. Charities need to grovel to the real estate brokers, the lawyers, the dentists — so that they can continue to provide care for holocaust survivors, families with food insecurities and agunot. It’s a frustrating reality.
And it is rewarding because you feel every day that you are changing the world, bringing Godliness down into the world, being a light onto the nations and helping out our community – a community that receives no help from anyone else.
So why did I start My Tzedakah Fund?
Basically, it would be hard for you to find someone more passionate about Jewish nonprofits than me. Even when I am entirely frustrated by it, I am dedicated to it.
Oddly enough, I wasn’t really consistently donating to any charity. There was no place for someone like me, a Jewish millennial, to navigate the charitable world in an authentic way.
Charities are still set up to fundraise from our parents — a generation that carries around check books, sends donations via the mail, makes pledges on the phone, or attends parlour meetings. That’s not us. We aren’t the heavy hitters, we aren’t going to be their $10,000/year donor (yet) and we definitely aren’t going to a parlour meeting.
But we are the future of the Jewish people. And soon they will have to figure out how to target us, talk to us, reach us and inspire us.
I decided to take my years of experience at navigating the world of Jewish nonprofit and make it fulfill MY charitable needs.
I needed something easy to use and efficient – something to make a complicated issue clear and concise. I wanted a platform that would host a myriad of Jewish charities doing important work in different areas of Jewish life, not just the ones that were already “famous.” I wanted to actively choose which charities I am interested in, that describe who I am, charities that move me and make me feel like I want to be a part of what they are doing. That even if I don’t work for them, they are mine and I am theirs. And most importantly, I wanted to be able to choose an amount that I feel comfortable donating every month. I can’t give you $10,000 a year, but I might be able to give you $100 a month. And in true millennial fashion, I want to set it up, and let someone else do all the hard work for me – deliver my money, send me reports, send me my tax receipts and keep me updated. So in comes My Tzedakah Fund. I worked on this baby for about three years before it was ready to be launched. It speaks to the Jewish millennial who wants to give back in a serious, authentic and awesome way. I hope it makes you fall in love with giving charity. And as someone eloquently put it – I hope it makes you think “giving tzedakah is cool again!”
I would really love to hear from you! Please email me at Carly@mytzedakah.com