Special Kids Fund. The idea to develop this enterprise was hatched at a board meeting when a member mentioned that he was searching for a way to donate to charity in memory of an associate's deceased father, but was stumped since he did know what the family's favorite charities were. The board of Special Kids Fund came up with the idea of creating an internet based charitable giving program that has since grown to support over a hundred participating charities by employing a variety of mechanisms to enable the gift giving.
Intrigued by their innovative ideas, I was thrilled to have an interview with Daniel Goldman, the co-founder of CharityChoice, where he chatted on the phone with me all the way from Israel.
Danny outlined the process of the customized gift card and online giving programs for businesses. He was enormously passionate about the benefits, for any sized businesses, of creating an unusual type of cause marketing by using CharityChoice Gift Cards.
How do you see Charity Choice Gift Card as helping businesses, large and small with their corporate giving and social responsibility?
Danny: In terms of Social Responsibility ….. When a business doesn’t want to align itself with a particular cause, but the cause they want to align with is just the giving part-corporations and small businesses can see how CharityChoice can fulfill that mission. The idea that by fulfilling that component of cause affinity is kind of novel because it is not an affinity with a particular kind of cause but is an affinity with charitable giving in general.
That is a leap for many people, but the advantage here is that it gives the customer or client of the company, the choice. That is the key in terms of both Corporate Social Responsibility and in terms of gift giving, because the choice and the decision in how the charitable gift will be designated is left to the recipient.
How would this work? How does a business of any size, large or small, actually enable their customers or their clients to take advantage of this and partner with you?
Danny: When you mention a small business, what we give is an opportunity for a small business to brand in a way that they normally would not have. Usually with a particular charity if they are a small business, a large charity is not interested in their branding.
If they are a large business, Kelloggs for example, and they are going to have a campaign for a certain charity, then that affinity for the charity creates a partnership. If they are a small business, a large charity is not necessarily going to partner with them.
The way our card works is: you can give it in many forms, it can be a card, an e-mail; you can purchase code and put the code in a medium like on boxes, event tickets, programs for an event; the code itself can be distributed in a any way. So in fact, getting back to the charitable giving, they can create an affinity with a small group of charities, by limiting the choice to the smaller group rather than using the list that we have.
So it’s the business that is buying the cards and offering it to their customers.
Danny: For the customers, the clients- as holiday gift cards- they can put up their logo, or put up season greetings, or they can give thank you cards, and have whatever caption they want on the page. The client can then select the charities the funds can go towards.
There is the psychology of people not wanting other people to make decisions for them. When a company says they want to donate to a charity, a lot of people may not care about that charity. What we are offering is the feeling or reality of participation.
Psychologically it’s just a matter of respect. There was an article, Control Freaks, by David Berkowitz, director of marketing for search engine marketing firm icrossing, where he wrote about the psychological principle of people wanting control in their choices and how CharityChoice taps into that.
I noticed in your website that you have loyalty points that can be designated towards CharityChoice, in the bigger companies such as Wells Fargo and other banks.
Danny: If you are at the link:
www.mycharitypoints.org, it has a list for employee incentive programs, a whole slew of major corporations that are offering our card for incentive programs. They work the same as credit card incentive programs. On the credit card side you will see some links to actual programs, Verizon Business Partners, Wells Fargo, US Bank, many other banks. Verizon Business Link Rewards uses CharityChoice to help support relief efforts in Haiti.
We were covered by Incentive Magazine, they also had a diamond invitational golf tournament for host companies and clients at the event, where they passed out our cards in goody bags, passed as giveaways by Incentive Magazine. The industry itself treats us as a tremendous vehicle for incentives and all types of corporate promotions.
On the side of the charities, how do you benefit charities that partner with you?
We offer to a charity, the opportunity to register as your charity. Your charity has the functionality of being a featured charity. Your supporters can click on that link and make a purchase , then your charity is the featured charity for that purchase and 75% is pre-designated to the charity.
If a group of local businesses and local charities partner, it could become community buzz for charitable gift giving and benefit local charities.
I love the whole view that the gift you are giving is that choice and that are real psychological and economic benefits that come from this.
Definitely there is something in terms of the respect the integrity of the recipient with a charity gift. Therefore the participation is meaningful. We see it all the time when they send a thank you- its amazing in terms of the types of comments we get back from people.
Danny sent me a link to some of comments. Here's one from the Los Angeles branch of a major insurance company:
"Thank You CharityGiftCertificates.org. Our 2007 holiday gift giving initiative was a huge success. We received only positive feedback from our customers thanking us for giving them the opportunity to give back to the charity of their choice. The service was fantastic and the gift certificates customized with our corporate logo was very professional."
Of course, CharityChoice has a registry for birthdays and weddings too, to make personal giving more meaningful. The choices and possibilities are endless-I expect to see CharityChoice expand into many more creative ways for businesses,organizations and individuals to continue to support causes they choose to support, with a little help from their friends.