Daily Giving: The power of donating $1 a day

One dollar on its own may not have much of an impact, but since its launch in January 2019, DailyGiving.org has already donated over $300,000 to Jewish charities.

A MEIR Panim volunteer delivers food during COVID-19 (photo credit: Courtesy)
A MEIR Panim volunteer delivers food during COVID-19
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It’s a deceptively simple concept. Jews from all over the world donate $1 a day. These dollars are bundled together and, each day, a Jewish organization in Israel or in the US is the beneficiary.
One dollar on its own may not have much of an impact, but since its launch in January 2019, DailyGiving.org has already donated over $300,000 to Jewish charities and is poised to donate an additional $700,000 in the next 365 days. And those numbers increase daily.
Dr. Jonathan Donath of White Plains, New York, is the president and co-founder of DailyGiving.org. The project started with an inspiring Torah class Donath attended in 2018. The class emphasized the idea that even the smallest mitzvot ought not be downplayed. The next time Donath walked into his local synagogue, he put a dollar in the tzedaka (charity) box and was struck by an epiphany.
“No matter how much money I give to tzedaka, I still get a mitzvah every time I put a dollar in the tzedaka box. So, how can I guarantee myself this mitzvah of tzedaka every day, no matter what, whether I go to minyan or don’t go to minyan? How, every single day, for a buck, can I get this mitzvah?” Donath said he asked himself.
After his Internet research revealed a void, Donath created Dailygiving.org, a website that allows people from all over the world to donate $1 a day to be distributed collectively. Today, DailyGiving.org is a recognized 501(C)3 nonprofit with a board and over 1,900 daily donors worldwide.
Among the Israel-based charities on the DailyGiving.org rotation of 42 organizations are Pantry Packers (food distribution), Melabev (day centers for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s), Shalva (services for individuals with disabilities and their families), Bishvilech (women’s medical center), Belev Echad (services for sick children and adults) and Yad Sarah (medical support).
Ironically, all of DailyGiving.org’s recipients have benefited from synagogue closures due to COVID-19. Hundreds of shul-goers who were used to giving a small amount of charity every day at the morning prayer service signed up to donate their dollar a day through the platform when their synagogue doors closed.
COVID-19’s impact is felt in other ways.
A RAINBOW of United Hatzalah volunteers (Photo Credit: Courtesy)A RAINBOW of United Hatzalah volunteers (Photo Credit: Courtesy)
“A lot of people right now are scared. They don’t have a livelihood, they’ve lost their job, or they’re worried about losing their job, and they can’t give the donations they used to give. But they want to give. It’s only $1, so people are much more willing and able, and it feels really good to be able to still give $1 a day,” Donath elaborated. Another important feature of DailyGiving.org is ease of use. Givers sign up once, and their dollar is put to use daily.
The organization routinely hears from people who can’t give much because of their personal circumstances, but who are grateful for the opportunity to give a little every single day.
Every day, a different charity gets a donation. Every 42 days, eight or nine times a year, each charity gets a payment from DailyGiving.org. The website calendar shows which organization is the recipient of that day’s total and how much was given.
Although the majority of givers are from the US and Israel, people have signed up from Switzerland, the Philippines, Brazil, Rome and France. DailyGiving.org even has a small number of non-Jewish givers.
Donath explained that the project has very wide appeal. “It’s just the most amazing thing, the testimonials I get from people who have been thanking me for this [platform]. They love it.”
“I think our special sauce is that every single day, all of our daily givers get an email that says where the money is going to and how much we’re giving. I have a CEO friend of mine who said, ‘I get 10,000 emails a day, but every day, I look forward to getting the email from DailyGiving.org. It makes me feel good, even if I had a rough day and I didn’t feel like I accomplished much.’
“We get 49% of people to open [the daily email] every single day. That’s a staggering number. Most nonprofits, if they get [a 20% open rate], that’s a very good number. With the daily email, you feel like you’re a part of something really special, and you see that our donation as a whole group grows and grows every day, even though your donation stays the same.”
Since their funding comes from all across the world, early on, the board made a decision to give only to large organizations, rather than to local charities. All qualifying organizations are national or international Jewish nonprofits based in Israel or the US.
The earliest subscribers came from the board members’ networks.
“It didn’t take long to get to the first 100 givers,” Donath reported, “but then to get from 100 to 400 took a long time.”
Even with 1,900 daily givers (and growing), “We really feel like we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. If just 1% of all Jews gave $1 today, it would mean over $52 million dollars of charity a year. Spread out among the organizations, it’s just an immense amount of money.”
THE 100%-VOLUNTEER board received endorsements from well-known rabbis who not only agreed to speak about the powerful idea that animates DailyGiving.org, but who have signed up to be donors themselves.
More proof of concept comes from the Orthodox Union, which granted DailyGiving.org a slot in the OU Impact Accelerator program. The program provides “mentorship and early-stage funding for Jewish nonprofit entrepreneurs.” DailyGiving.org was selected from a pool of 80+ Jewish nonprofits that are using technology to advance Jewish causes.
Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, executive director of Lema’an Achai, said, “DailyGiving.org’s program allows us to be a part of a wonderful initiative of ‘compounded tzedaka,’ where many people constantly giving (even) small amounts adds up to significant sums. As the Rambam recommends: many acts of giving have more impact than giving a onetime large gift.”
VOLUNTEERS COME together to collect food for the families of Lema’an Achai. (Photo Credit: Courtesy)VOLUNTEERS COME together to collect food for the families of Lema’an Achai. (Photo Credit: Courtesy)
Speaking for Yad Ezra v’Shulamit, Yosef Kroopnick explained how he was won over. “When Dr. Donath first came to our organization... to say the least, I was a little skeptical. I remember Jonathan explained what exactly he was striving for. At the time, the amount was around $300, and he mentioned that his goal was $1,000 a day. Now, thank God, it’s over $1,800. Simply amazing!
“The organization has kept all its promises, sending a donation every 42 days. In addition, they have met and passed their goals. The whole operation is all-volunteer. This is stupendous, as one can imagine this demands time and a lot of effort. To say the least, I am impressed.”
Some donors give $1 for each family member, in order to expose their children to the mitzvah of giving charity at an early age. Some give in memory of a loved one or in honor of someone fighting for their health. Donath mentioned one woman who gives in the name of her son who is on a ventilator, in order that he can benefit from the spiritual merit of daily giving.
DailyGiving.org is currently running a huge unity campaign with 40 other Jewish organizations under the motto “One Nation. One Heart. One Dollar.” Their goal is to enroll thousands of new donors before Shavuot.
“When someone signs up for $1 a day, you think, Oh, it’s not so much money. But when everyone comes together as a community, when we all get together, it just shows the power. It’s not how much you give; it’s how many give,” Donath concluded.