Thursday, September 22, 2016

Helping Israel's poor (or a few easy steps to help get you into the Book of Life)

No, I am not going soft. I am taking a very short hiatus from insulting everyone everywhere to do something positive. So please bear with me and read along. Do not skip any sections; do not skim. I don't want to repeat myself.

In 2014 two of my very good (and I should add, really smart) friends created an extremely worthy Crowd Funding site called Ten Gav. I don't know what that means but it doesn't matter because they do life-changing good work, helping less fortunate Israelis who need a little boost so that they can get on with helping themselves. Since that time they have successfully managed 220 or more mini crowd funding projects from all over Israel.

As they see it, it is crowd funding with a twist (all good stories have a twist).  It emphasizes the donor experience rather than the “raise” itself. (I think that is insider lingo from the crowd funding business.)

The premise of Ten Gav is that Israel’s poor have vast needs that are not being met -- and that many people want to help them in some small, but significant, way as long as it isn't too complicated. 

Here's what they learned during their pre-launch research (I told you they were smart):

1. People want to feel a personal connection to the end receiver of their giving. That's why Ten Gav's platform allows the potential donor to read in short story about a particular family’s situation (pseudonyms are used) and what they need. It's personal!

2. People also want to know that the recipient of their donation really needs it, so each funding project posted on the site is verified by a professional social worker, reviewed by her principal and made on behalf of a person or family with an open file in a municipal social services department in Israel. To add to the donor’s sense of confidence in the giving process, the name of the verifying social worker and the name of his or her agency are posted alongside the story itself. Rather than create an entirely new system of due diligence, Ten Gav relies on the Israeli municipal welfare services system, which has proven to be a good decision.

3. People want to feel like their dollars make a tangible difference to the end receiver so no single need offered for funding on the site exceeds $1500.  This ensures that even a modest gift will have meaningful impact.

4. People who can only afford to give modest amounts, want 100% of their gift to go towards funding the case chosen by the donor. (In case you were wondering, they fundraise separately to cover operating expenses.)

Here’s how Ten Gav works:  You visit and read the stories about real people meeting real challenges.  Each story requests funding for something specific: It might be a request for a fridge, a stove or a washer; it might be a request for prescription glasses, a laptop computer for a student, an orthopedic bed for an ill person being cared for at home or hearing aids for an elderly client. Or, it might be a request for funding for a cosmeticians course for a young adult, soccer club fees for a grade school boy, or a didactic evaluation for a high school student to enable him or her to receive special dispensations in their matriculation exams.

All of the families you read about cannot afford most capital expenses. You choose the family in need to which you want to make your gift.  The counters are reduced as donations come in until the need has been fully funded.  At that point each of the individuals who donated to a particular need will receive notice and thanks from Ten Gav that the campaign has been closed and that they, together with several other good people, have made a real difference in one family’s life.

Unfortunately, the needs of Israel’s poor are many and their primary advocates in the social services system, namely professional social workers, have few places to turn to for assistance on their behalf.
You can help

At this time of the year when many of us are running around filling our refrigerators and freezers with holiday food, and buying new clothes to wear to synagogue, there are real people out there who would be very appreciative if you could siphon off a little bit to help them. It doesn't take much effort to do so – the Ten Gav site is self-explanatory – and it would make a world of difference.

And let's face it, if there is ever a point in the year where we should all be looking for a few last minute good deeds to help us get into next year's Book of Life, this is it.

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