Guy's Guide to Impressing a Woman This Holiday
We Have Just the Thing
Every woman has a caring, soft side. But how do you buy her something that's caring and soft and still has some substance to it. A gift, in other words, that doesn't brand you as a dullard or wuss?
The answer is ChangingThePresent.org. (Via email)
Changing the Present has been launched just in time for Holiday gift giving. The idea is to substitute a charitable gift for a commercial gift.
ChangingThePresent will do for nonprofits what malls have done for shopping. And it will do for shopping something that shopping has rarely done for anyone: elevate spirits and add meaning to our lives.
What you see today is just the beginning. We'll be adding more features every few weeks. As more people discover this great new way to give, and your friends all start to talk about us, you'll smile and think to yourself, "Well of course. Where have you been?"
Changing the Present is a project of Important Gifts, a 501(c)(3), so that gifts made through the Changing the Present site are tax deductible. You can add a greeting card for the person in whose name is the gift is made. That cost is not tax-deductible. The card and other marketing related services are provided through WellGood, LLC.
WellGood LLC is a professional services firm providing us with strategic planning, web design, programming and marketing services, as well as providing the personalized greeting cards you can use to announce a donation in a friend’s name.
Bruce Tate, Chief Technology Officer of WellGood, describes Changing the Present as "Heifer meets ebay." Bruce goes on to discuss the structure, leadership, and motivation of the new venture:
But sometimes, it's not all about money. Enter Frank Zimmerman, and Robert Tolmach. Frank brought me in as a contractor to work for Robert, my new boss. Robert had this idea that has turned out to be too compelling to ignore. Nonprofits need donors, and donors need knowledge and accountability. They both need a marketplace--a 21st century marketplace where buyers and sellers could come together to do business to do good.
But that won't happen unless there's a strong commercial motivation. So Robert's vision is to build a company that can do good while the developers, artists, evangelists, managers, and other professionals can do well. So we put a nonprofit company and a for-profit company together with some cutting edge technologies and blew out the initial parts of a web site. I signed on with the team as a lead developer and contractor.
Robert Tolmach's bio can be found on Omidyar.net. Changing the Present includes a blog (with no posts as of the time of my writing this). At "checkout", according to their FAQ, you can make a donation directly for Changing the Present to use in building out the site. The forprofit, I believe, is closely held, so you probably cannot invest in it until or unless it goes public. Changing the Present has been reviewed by Lucy Bernholz, a leader in conceptualizing the future of philanthropic capital markets. A bit of a discussion is going on here.
I have a lot to say about the commercialization and productization of giving, and about the dream that some venture folks have of getting rich by helping others be generous. But, Robert Tolmach is a serious man, who has made a big commitment to this effort which, if successful would move considerable money to charity. Robert could have devoted his time and resources to some other, purely commercial, project. I consider Robert a friend, and fellow seeker. I hope he will come by to engage in a conversation, or stage one on the Changing the Present blog.
We are beginning to see what social venture investing looks like when implemented by first rate business minds. If we think of giving as a "market" inside the ownership society, Changing the Present, may be where it tends. My thoughts go more towards libation, sacrifice, celebration, or communion: Gifts that are like performative utterances, or sacred rituals, or grace, changing the giver and the recipient and the society by which they would otherwise be bound. "My Kingdom," said Jesus, "is not of this world." As for the market, the coins Judas took were buried with him in Potter's field. There is a personal, ethical, political and spiritual dimension of giving that will never be subordinated to a mall. Changing the present (spoken without the pun) might mean turning the world of the mall upside down. Still, it would be wonderful this Christmas if the money spent on silly gifts to commemorate the birth of Jesus went instead to worthwhile charities. Teaching children about giving would be a good parenting gesture. And not only women, but some men too, have a soft and caring side. I myself would not mind a goat sacrificed to Dionysus in my name. With it make a prayer, that the present might be changed, as when the seasons turn, and the unkillable vine breaks out in new growth, forcing apart the paving stones, coming up green through the cracks.