Round-up non-profit expands micro-donation options to salaries

Ever since Barak Obama managed to raise $6.9 million out of $25 million through small donations on the web, 92% of which were $100 or less, many involved in the non-profit world started to understand the potential of crowd sourcing small “micro-donations” instead of, or in addition to, the traditional approach of getting small numbers of large donations. Micro-donations are generally under $10 per person, with the idea being to crowdsource very large numbers of donors. A good example of an organization that maximizes the potential of micro-donations is Kiva. Kiva’s fund-raising activity takes place almost exclusively on the web, where it allows donors to make small donations to finance small businesses in developing countries. Kiva uses the web and social media brilliantly (their email newsletter is one of the best I’ve seen), and their emphasis on the fact that donations are “person-to-person,” and the transparent nature of their enterprise succinctly represents the personal culture that users of social media expect and appreciate.

round-up simplifies micro-donations

round-up-logo

A new initiative in micro-donations came to Israel in 2008 in the form of round-up, or “Igul Letova” in Hebrew. round-up is a non-profit that enables people to give micro-donations to non-profits of their choice by rounding up purchases on credit cards or by rounding down salaries. The option to give automatically every month by rounding down one’s salary was recently added by the organization.

I interviewed Vered Shavit Mazor, Manager at round-up, to learn more about their initiative.

Me: How can people join the new employee salary round-up option?

Vered: This is being implemented in companies that are characterized by an ongoing connection (like computerized payment or collection) with a large user base. Until September of this year, the only option for rounding up was available credit card companies. In September, we introduced the option for companies that use Hilan Tech to manage their salaries to offer round-up to their employees. Hilan Tech developed a unique module for their system which enables direct donation from an employee’s salary slip. Amdocs and Matrix are already offering their employees to round-up.

The way the rounding up works is as follows: an employee chooses to donate a small amount on a monthly basis by rounding down their salary to the nearest 5 NIS, 10 NIS or 20 NIS, which would yield an average monthly donation of NIS 2.5, NIS 5 or NIS 10 accordingly. The employee chooses which cause or category of causes will receive their donation. In the event that the company is interested in doing so, the module can also enable the employer to match the employee’s donation, for the same cause.

Me: How does the employee choose the cause they are donating to?

Vered: Employees can choose to donate to a minimum of one or a maximum of three causes from the list of eligible causes compiled by round-up. The donations can be made to general categories of non-profits, like health or education, and/or to specific designated NPOs. The employee’s donation will be divided equally between the selected causes. In the event that a general category is chosen, the donation will be divided equally between all the NPOs in that category.

The amount of the donation will appear on the salary slip as a debit line and the cause/s for the donation and the amounts transferred that month shall also be presented. If the employer matched the donation, an additional line item will appear on the salary slip noting the employer’s donation. round-up transfers the monies in full according to the specifications of the donors, based on a report received from the employer via Hilan Tech.

Me: What does a company need to do to join?

Vered: The implementation of round-up is via the salary accountant and/or the human resources department, and based on the Hilan Tech salary system which has been configured to handle the matter in a simple and effective way.

Me: How did round-up select the organizations that receive the donations?

Vered: A public committee founded by round-up and headed by President of the Supreme Court (ret.) Judge Meir Shamgar prepared a list of categories and foundations that can be selected by donors. All the causes in the list successfully passed the “Seal of Transparency” test of Midot, an organization that rates and screens non-profit organizations.

The list of eligible causes currently includes over 40 foundations in the following categories: health, education, children and youth at risk, welfare and employment, women in distress, culture and recreation, communities in need and new immigrants, quality of the environment, tolerance and human rights, and people with disabilities.

Me: What’s the big vision behind round-up?

Vered: Several shekels from many employees can total tens of hundreds of millions of shekels per year for advancing social causes.

Me: Thanks Vered!

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While round-up doesn’t specifically use the web or social media to crowdsource their donations, the approach to micro-donations via credit cards or salary slips is simple and therefore effective. Additional details about round-up can be found on the website: www.round-up.org.il.

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