I t’s an interesting concept: nonprofits create a profile with a wishlist that links to Amazon. The donor chooses what he wishes to donate through a nonprofit’s profile, buys it from Amazon, and it’s delivered directly to the needy organization. MyFiki (My Fundraising Initiatives based on Kindness and Involvement) was born out of a perfect storm. I moved to Montclair, New Jersey, with Tara Fardellone, my better half and co-founder, after a few years in Atlanta after college. My job transferred me to Manhattan and Tara accepted a position as the part-time Executive Director for a nonprofit organization providing affordable housing for independent seniors.As Executive Director, she ran an organization that had dire needs for goods and a shoestring budget, so financial contributions usually went to operational expenses. She came home every day, feeling the strain of not having basic necessities for her residents and organization. New beds, cleaning supplies, and emergency exit light replacements were some of the goods she needed to buy but couldn’t always afford. I heard her pleas for help, but didn’t know how to solve the gaps in fundraising for goods. Her other position was also in a nonprofit, and she saw similar needs at both. Meanwhile, in every town we’ve lived in, we’ve volunteered at the local animal shelter. On our first visit to the Montclair Township Animal Shelter, we pulled in around an hour before closing and learned that they were
running low on most of the basic supplies they needed for the animals in their care. We rushed to the store and filled the car with new towels, wet food, dry food, treats, and toys for the animals. In a few days, however, the supplies were gone and their needs were greater than ever. All nonprofits have needs, but an implicit understanding exists in the industry that beggars can’t be choosers and nonprofits need to make do with what they receive.The giving spirit was alive in Tara’s organization, but at one point, she had a fundraising mailing to distribute and couldn’t even afford the postage. It was clear that space existed for in- kind fundraising to be vastly improved. My passion in business led me to entrepreneurship and I had a unique idea that could make a real difference, if we could do it right. After many nights of brainstorming, Tara and I became small business owners and registered MyFiki as a business. Our website, MyFiki.org, serves many purposes. Offering nonprofits a louder voice in the in- kind fundraising arena became our first issue to solve. I immediately began developing our website,which allows nonprofit organizations to register for a profile, which includes a fully interactive wishlist that connects to Amazon. com and allows nonprofits to pick the exact items and quantities they need so that the public can donate them. That way, they get the goods they need without being flooded with unnecessary supplies.
The profiles accomplish so much more for an organization than just sharing an Amazon wishlist. They provide small organizations with limited or nonexistent marketing budgets with a completely free space to build their online presence. The profiles also allow complete transparency in the donation process, which facilitates the building of trust between an organization and its donor base. Donors know exactly how their money is being spent, and rest easy knowing that it is not just disappearing into a bank account. They conveniently buy what they can, and the items are delivered for them. Purchases through MyFiki.org increase donor engagement because items are shipped to the organization instead of forcing donors to find time to drop goods off. Further, someone who wants to donate a small amount knows their donation still makes a difference, when often a small financial contribution seems insignificant. The profiles for each organization serve a greater purpose: to build a collaborative community of nonprofits. When a nonprofit registers on MyFiki.org, they become a partner with us.They receive free social media publicity from us and we spotlight their needs as often as we can. In addition, our partners are encouraged to communicate with each other and share resources, providing a network for organizations which could not otherwise afford those relationships. Many hands make light work, and resource sharing