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A Hand-Held Tzedakah Box

Mar 20, 2012 by Sasha  | 

From now and throughout the next several weeks, we’ll be featuring one of our Where Do You Give? Design Competition submissions every day. Visit our site daily to learn more about our talented entrants!

Gabriel Bass (@CustomCarving) is an artist and designer who creates synagogue furniture and Judaica for his company, CustomCarving.org

Please briefly describe your design:

A tzedakah box for the 21st century: An easy to use, touch screen, handheld device (similar to an i-phone) passed around a community, religious organization, workspace, or throughout the public sector. This product would function like a kiosk, dedicated solely to encouraging giving and helping people to find an appropriate and responsible charity to build a relationship with. This handheld interactive tzedakah box would be connected to only one website, a continually growing and changing interactive database of trusted organizations in need of support. The organization would research and verify each charity listed. Users would have the opportunity to search charities by recommendations made by previous users or to suggest organizations themselves, thus creating a network of charities most related to the individual user based upon peer responses. Each device would have a physical, social live of its own, related to the individual user.

The device would be attractive, simple to use, and there would be no need for the device to record or store any personal or financial information. Once the appropriate cause has been found, with one click the user can receive more information about the charity or an invoice for a donation sent to directly to their email. This device offers an interactive, exciting, and socially viable solution to the difficulty of finding a dependable charity today.

How does your design reimagine the future of giving? How will your design spark a national conversation about the obligation to give, where to give, to whom and why?

Most people feel an obligation to contribute to those less fortunate, but either do not know which charities are the most reliable or do not take the initiative to make that contribution. The tzedakah box at synagogue is not the place for a large donation and the internet is impersonal. They need the charities to come to them, in a simple, unobtrusive way, from the hands of people they trust. Through this device, within only a few clicks, you will be able to leave your email address with a suitable charity, and then make the actual donation or contact with the organization when and where you are most comfortable.

Imagine receiving such a device from someone who you care about, a colleague at work, or even a stranger on the street. Most people would interact with the device, and even if they do no choose to leave their email address once they found a suitable charity, they will most likely notice a charity which they may be interested in supporting in the future. These devices are fairly affordable to produce today and can be passed around very quickly, so that the entire nation will be exposed within weeks or months of the opening of the campaign. Some devices will be disseminated publicly for exposure, although others will be owned by a neighborhood, religious community, library, university, work space, etc. which will help to encourage its use.

This product is the ultimate combination of physical and virtual communication, which will undoubtedly spark a national conversation about the obligation to give and help to find a suitable charity support and build a lasting relationship with.



Sasha Feldstein is a program associate in the education and community engagement department at AJWS, where she manages WhereDoYouGive.org. Aside from wanting to be and play outside all of the time, she is interested in radical reconceptualizations of ancient traditions and in deeply exploring why we give, where we give, how we give and what it means to define giving tzedakah as pursuing justice. Sasha can be reached at sfeldstein@ajws.org.

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