E-charity made easy

JGives.com aims to revolutionize how donors find charities, while making the entire process of giving simple, direct and safe.

Jgives 521 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Jgives 521
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Ever since the advent of online shopping, consumers have been seeking ways to acquire products and services at reduced prices and in a safe environment.
One phenomenon which fulfills that demand is known as group or collective buying, where merchants offer their goods or services over the Internet at significantly reduced prices, usually stipulating that a minimum number of buyers participate in order to validate the sales.
Reliable estimates indicate that over 500 of these sites exist, which offer daily deals in bulk to specific or general populations in cities and communities around the world.
But one such entity known as jdeal (www.jdeal.com), which since 2010 has been focusing on Jewish audiences, offering daily group discounts on kosher restaurants, Judaica products, Jewish entertainment, products from Israel and much more, has decided to leverage its extensive database of over 85,000 subscribers to promote worthy Jewish causes across the globe.
Known as jgives (www.jgives.com), this new charitable site is dedicated to revolutionizing how donors find charities while at the same time making the entire process of giving simple, direct and safe, enabling the Jewish community to come together to support philanthropic purposes and nonprofit organizations.
Jdeal co-founder and CEO Jodi Samuels says that launching the jgives site this past summer “was a natural extension for us,” since the company had already been featuring charities on its jdeal site on a limited weekly basis for some time.
In fact, Samuels says that over the past three years consumers have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities listed on jdeal. She credits a high response rate to the fact that “people trust jdeal as a brand.”
Samuels adds, “Since our members already have their credit card information in our system, they don’t have to go through a whole process in order to give tzedaka [charity]. It’s like going to the supermarket, and buying gum at the checkout counter; it’s just there.”
With the launch of jgives, each daily email sent to a jdeal member now includes a banner with a link to a jgives charity. Members also receive weekly emails exclusively highlighting a cause, rather than a promotion for a good or service.
Samuels says that since the jgives launch in August, 20 charities have already been approved as credible organizations and are listed on the jgives site, with another 20 in the process of being approved. She hopes to have over 100 diverse Jewish charities featured in the near future, saying, “We want to be the destination website for people when they give tzedaka.” She explains, “Charities love the concept, since it is success-based. There are no upfront costs to the organization in order to be featured on the site.”
Samuels explains that while in the past charities might have targeted donors spending around $5,000 upfront for a snail-mail campaign, without knowing if they would even break even on their investment, now an organization can take part in a campaign free of charge and only pay a minimal percentage to jgives, based exclusively on the actual donation dollars raised.
She says that this model “allows charities to target smaller donors, who might not even be on their radar.” In fact, jgive’s slogan on the site is, “Making a difference, $18 at a time.” (Eighteen, or hai, represents “life” in Hebrew.) “For small charities, jgives provides visibility and tools to compete with better- known entities,” she adds.
The site also features charity gift cards, and for example, a jdeal member can earmark a donation sum as a present for a bar or bat mitzva or wedding.
Upon receiving the card, the person celebrating their milestone can select which featured charity they would like to donate the money towards.
With a click of a button, the transaction is completed.
Moreover, the jgives technology has enabled the company to launch an affiliate program, where other companies including online newspapers can display jgives charities on their sites.
Samuels says that this program is special because “as opposed to a traditional affiliate arrangement, where if you click on a banner it drives traffic away from your [company’s] site to a third party, this will be a self-contained location on their website.” This is also very important from a consumer’s point of view, notes Samuels, “because the consumer carries out the entire transaction on the [trusted] site they are visiting, and doesn’t experience a feeling of third-party involvement.”
The affiliate, she explains, has the discretion to select the charities to feature on their site. In this way, a left-wing publication can handpick charities which are more left-leaning, and will be in line with its philosophy and most likely that of its target audience.
David Birnbaum, executive director of American Friends of Meir Panim, the US arm of the Israeli organization which helps impoverished families by providing meals and other services to those in need, says that he has found the success of reaching donors via jdeal to be “mind blowing.”
Birnbaum, who says his organization runs three major fund-raising campaigns a year in conjunction with the Jewish holidays, has been running extremely successful parallel campaigns on jdeal for the past several years.
He believes that the new jgives concept “should benefit any charity,” explaining that “jdeal realized that promoting charities was so beneficial for nonprofits, by using their database and targeting the Jewish community.”
The jgives site is also “a great resource to find out what charities out there are doing good work,” he adds.
Other organizations that are already on board include Gift of Life, the Orthodox Union, Sharsheret, One Family Fund, Yachad and Boys Town Jerusalem.
Allen Ganz, who co-founded jdeal/ jgives with Samuels, says that while philanthropists of all ages are included in jgive’s targets, he believes jgives is an important tool “reaching the next generation of donors where and how they want to give.”
“Young donors,” he believes, “are open to making small donations more frequently, and prefer to give online.”
He adds that overall, “young Jewish philanthropists want to carry out their giving in vastly different ways than their parents and grandparents. They want their giving to be information-driven, hands-on and impact-focused.”
Samuels agrees, saying that younger donors in this “quick and easy generation don’t have the patience to sign up for other types of campaigns. Whereas we have taken technology and simplified it, broadcasting real charities they know exist and making it easy with a simple click of the ‘donate now’ button, in a way that’s meaningful and comfortable, allowing them to get a tax receipt sent [for their donation].”
Ultimately, Samuels and Ganz hope to create a type of “giving lifestyle” that includes rewards for repeat donors, online giveaways, and confidence in the legitimacy of organizations that have been vetted and approved by the trusted jdeal brand.