Lisa Tomasi is the founder and president of YouGiveGoods, LLC which is an innovative e-commerce company that connects tangible giving to community needs through a free, easy-to-use online service. With a simple and quick click you can give toys, school supplies, food, coats, blankets, diapers and more to any charity you choose. Best of all, it will be delivered right to the recipient’s door! Here’s what Lisa and I discussed:
Jay: What is YouGiveGoods all about?
Lisa: To summarize the concept in one sentence, it’s the most convenient way for anyone in the world to help others and make an immediate impact for those who need it. The ability to give is something so many people want to do, but it’s difficult to find the time, do the research on who you’re giving to and everything else that goes into it. With YouGiveGoods.com you can choose from a variety of different organizations, decide what items you want to give and set up a drive in minutes. It’s simple efficient and you can make a real difference.
Jay: You mentioned that the program is designed for people to give products such as books, toys, blankets etc. What was the thought behind creating it in such a way rather than just letting people give a monetary donation?
Lisa: You know something Jay, I’m glad you brought that up because it is a key element that we’ve built our model around. I’ve heard so many people who give charity say, “I wish I knew where my money went” or “I hope the money was really put towards something useful”. The uniqueness of YouGiveGoods is that you can choose exactly what you want to give, and you can see exactly where the donation goes. Changing the way people give from dollars and cents to actual items has really gotten people excited about giving.
Jay: Just from hearing the details of what you’re doing and looking at your site www.YouGiveGoods.com it’s quite clear this is a tremendous undertaking. While others can donate quickly, this must have taken a tremendous amount of time, effort and energy on your part to build. What inspired you to do that?
Lisa: It’s definitely true that it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, but I’ve been involved with philanthropy all my life so I’ve always been inspired by it. However, during the earth quake in Haiti a little over 5 years ago, I had friends who were there helping and they called me asking if we could help them with flashlights and batteries. I spoke with my husband and we figured we could easily get this done. Well, turns out it really wasn’t that easy and I began to think, “There’s got to be a way to make this much more accessible”. And so that’s when I decided to build a network that would connect people from all over the world in a way that would allow them to impact the lives of others easily and quickly.
Jay: You’ve certainly done a great job, and I see that other great organizations like the NFL, KPMG and others listed on your site have joined as sponsors to your mission. How were you able to attract such high tier brands to get involved?
Lisa: It’s interesting that you bring that up Jay, because I think people assume that if you’re a nonprofit with a good cause, great brands will flock towards you. And the truth is, there is no open door policy for anyone. Whenever you are looking to connect with a great brand or company never talk about yourself, always focus and how you believe you can bring value to them. In fact, it’s in your best interest to approach it that way as well, because connecting with great brands only works when you and the prospective brand work toward similar goals. We had heard of the NFL’s Play 60 challenge, which is a four-week program that inspires kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day in school and at home, and we realized that if these kids are going to take the challenge they’re going to need to eat properly to do that. So we did a lot of research and finally contacted the right people within the NFL organization and began to work together to get kids the food they needed. It’s worth putting in all the time to do the proper research before partnering with any brand.
Jay: Sounds like an amazing program, almost an entity that lives on its own. Is philanthropy something that lives outside of work, or can/should businesses add that element to their core?
Lisa: Not only is a great way to give your business a mission, research shows that people would be willing to take a cut in salary in order to join a company that promotes a worthy cause. You’ll not only be proud for what you stand for; you’ll actually be able to attract the top talent. When people feel that they come to work each day not only to reach business goals, but to help kids get cloths they need, or help out a local pantry or anything else you decide to support, it increases employee morale and puts new invigorated energy into a company’s workers. Just look around and you’ll see that the successful companies have charity campaigns in their DNA!
As the founder of YouGiveGoods, Lisa’s extraordinary leadership and vision has firmly established the company as the leader of virtual in-kind good drives and contests. Lisa has been involved with nonprofits throughout her adult life. She first came to understand their important role in society while living in San Francisco during a devastating earthquake. Aided by the Red Cross, she spent three days living in a park, hoping to go home. While an awful experience, it motivated Lisa into dedicating her life to service: volunteering at battered women shelters, building houses in Haiti and founding several scholarship funds. Lisa first pursued a career in media and advertising at MMT and Telerep before engaging in the more demanding, but rewarding, role of mother to four daughters.