We all know that charity begins at home, and with this month being "Self Improvement Month" it is the perfect time to talk to our kids about giving back to the community. To help us learn more about how we can focus on charitable giving at home, we spoke with Dana Ostomel, the founder and Chief Gifting Officer of Deposit a Gift, a crowdfunding platform that allows anyone to easily create an online fundraising campaign for an organization, school or personal need.
Through this platform, kids can innovate and come up with their own charitable causes and easily create a site to raise money - for example, they can raise money for their school, for a family member in need, for their sports team, etc. As a way to raise funds and awareness for an existing cause that is important to them, kids of all ages will love the connection to community and giving on this portal.
Momtrends: WHAT IS DEPOSIT A GIFT?
Dana Ostomel:Deposit a Gift is a way to take your fundraising efforts online in a more engaging, social and creative way -- it's called crowdfunding! Our platform allows you to create a micro-site for your campaign, so it's more than just a donation page. It has built-in multimedia and social media capabilities that make it easy to tell your story in a way that compels people to give and makes it easy for them to share. Crowdfunding is all about using your social network to reach more people and raise more money than ever before. You want to think of it as a way to expand your meaning of community; with in-person events your reach is limited, but when you take it online, you have the ability to build momentum and connect with all of your networks, and then hopefully have it be passed along to the networks of your contacts. The idea is that when you are fundraising, you want to reach as many people as possible, and you want a site that is set up in a persuasive way so that when people receive it that are less connected to the initiative, they are still drawnin and want to give. With Deposit a Gift, you can create a totally customizable fundraising site in minutes that does this for you. We've seen people use it for everything from a complement to traditional yearly benefits or to launch a brand new fundraiser online.
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Momtrends: WHAT CHARITIES ARE KIDS CONNECTED TO ON DEPOSIT A GIFT?
Dana:Kids can raise money for anything on Deposit a Gift. We've seen a lot of success with many fundraisers connected to kids:
- a campaign to save the art program at an elementary school
- raising money for a rescue dog that needs a special surgery (this dog lives at a shelter in Philadelphia founded by two little girls)
- group gifts for teachers
- a fundraiser for a set of twins born prematurely at 24 weeks
- yearly PTA campaigns (this one launches this week)
- to rehabilitate a Brooklyn library damaged by storms this past June (this one launches this week)
- fundraiser for a high school golf teammate who has cancer: http://dustinbarr.mydagsite.com
Momtrends: HOW CAN KIDS DONATE? MONEY, TIME, ETC?
Dana:Depending on the age of the child, how kids get involved in an initiative will vary. It could be something simple from a trash cleanup that anyone can participate in to something more age appropriate. Something that little ones often shine at is visiting the sick and the elderly. Children are naturally empathetic and bring a lightness to these situations because they often don't feel the heaviness of the environment the way adults do. Simply walking into a room, saying hello to the residents, or even playing games with them is enough to brighten someone's day. Older children are often great at coming up with their own projects, whether it's finding a local shelter that they want to volunteer with or identifying a need in the community that they would like to raise money for with a site like DepositaGift.com, a crowdfunding site that lets you create a fundraiser for anything that matters to you. With the holiday season around the corner, this is a great time to plant the seed with children to start thinking about who they want to raise money for and what they would like to give back to the community. You can get a head-start with this type of thinking before they get a chance to think about what they want for themselves.
Momtrends: WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO START A PROGRAM LIKE THIS FOR KIDS?
Dana: The nice thing about an online fundraising site is that parent and child can do it together. Even if the child isn't computer literate, they can sit at the computer together and determine what they want to say, what kinds of pictures they want to use, what they want the goal to be, etc. It is also possible that the campaign doesn't have to only be done online. The idea of crowdfunding with Deposit a Gift is to expand your meaning of community by being able to tap into your online world of friends and family. So for example, let's say your elementary school-aged kid wanted to have a lemonade stand or a bake sale to raise money for a friend or family member who is sick. They could still have the in-person stand, but they could make it hi-tech by having posters with the campaign site URL on it instructing people to donate right there on their phones (or they could have a computer or ipad present as well). They could take pics of themselves running the stand and then upload it to the site to show their hard work. At that point it's a great time to start blasting it out via email and posting on FB and Twitter to get more people involved. This way your "community" is no longer limited to who comes to the stand. And if it's a really good cause, especially driven by a child, most people won't want anything in exchange; they'll just want a quick and easy way to be able to give, and that's what Deposit a Gift provides with our super-easy-to-use fundraising platform.
Momtrends: WHAT DOES CHARITABLE GIVING TEACH CHILDREN?
Dana:Charitable giving gives children a new perspective because it is inherently not about them; it is also a great way to teach empathy. If they are the lead on the initiative, it also teaches accountability and gives a sense of self-worth. They learn that the more you help others, the more you often want to keep giving and helping because, at the end of the day, it just feels good. With the use of crowdfunding technology it is easier than ever before for kids to launch campaigns that have an impact that reverberates far beyond their initial reach.
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