Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR OUT TO CHANGE THE NON-PROFIT WORLD

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR OUT TO CHANGE THE NON-PROFIT WORLD

Gena Rotstein

This is the story about Ms. Gena Rotstein, the CEO of Dexterity Ventures Inc. and a social visionary who believes that making a profit while “doing good” is possible and has used her knowledge and skills to create an online tool for the financial services sector called, Place2Give.com.

Gena in an Advisor in Philanthropy, and a leader in the philanthropic services industry. For over 15 years, Gena worked as an expert fundraiser with various charities around North America. Through her work, she realized that there was a disconnect in the sector between how charities were communicating with donors and what donors wanted from the organizations they supported. In addition the financial services sector was not acting as an effective bridge between those with resources and those needing those resources. This disconnect has led to a number of issues in the sector including duplication of charities, and increased confusion by donors as to which charities to support.

Gena has taken her experience in the non-profit sector and everything she has learned over the years together with her innovative vision and has translated it into a for-profit social enterprise business model connecting donors to charities. In 2008, she launched her consulting practise targeting individuals, families and family-owned businesses. The focus of the consulting company was to support donors in identifying their social vision. Since inception over $2MM has been directed through clients to charities around the world. Place2Give was the next logical step to Gena’s vision. The idea behind Place2Give is to empower consumers (donors) to make the best charitable philanthropic investment decisions possible that most align with their passions.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR OUT TO CHANGE THE NON-PROFIT WORLDPlace2Give.com was launched in February 2011. It is a search-match-donate database in which donors can research all Canadian registered charities, create a user profile and then have their user profile matched to charities that align with their profiles. In addition, users can then donate on-line through the website to charities of their choice. By profiling donors the system identifies a donor’s best-fit charity. This in turn saves the charities money by not having to figure out how to market to a certain demographic, but it also saves the donors heart-ache and frustration when they don’t get what they expect from their charitable dollars. Unlike other charity databases, such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar, Place2Give does not rank organizations.

There are over 85,000 registered Canadian charities listed in the CRA today, and Place2Give pulls all this information. The database collects information from a number of different sources including Canada Revenue Agency, Charity Intelligence and the charities themselves. It is updated quarterly and is the only full source of information available for Canadian donors today.

Charities can help donors and themselves by uploading more of their information on-line at Place2Give. This is free of charge to charities and will provide Canadian donors with more robust data. Place2Give tweets out all those organizations that join. The more charities that get involved with Place2Give, the more data Canadian donors will have. In return, Dexterity Ventures Inc. (the company behind Place2Give), will take aggregated information derived from the user profiles and donation patterns, and sell it back to the charitable sector. The charitable sector will be able to use this data to improve their efficiencies and ultimately be more effective. In short, they will be able to get “more bang for their buck.”

Most recently, Dexterity Ventures Inc. has launched the Place2Give Advisor Tool Box which was developed for the use by wealth managers, financial planners, tax advisors, estate planners and lawyers providing up-to-date information on Canada’s charitable sector. Research provided through Place2Give enables these professionals to have to deeper, more meaningful conversations with their clients around philanthropy and the charitable sector thereby securing ongoing assets to manage in the form of foundations and Donor Advised Funds. Place2Give is able to provide the services through an automated process thereby working with 1,000’s of advisors, touching 10’s of thousands of individual clients. Whether the platform is used to facilitate the discussion around a $100 community investment or a $1MM community investment, Place2Give delivers information to those who need it, and the tools to take that information and put it into action.

Research generated by the Place2give Advisor Toolbox can be as high-level as CRA information or as detailed as a landscape comparison to other similar organizations. Use of the system empowers the advisor community and enables them to access charitable sector information when and how they want it. Place2Give removes the risk of philanthropic advising so Advisors can focus on managing the funds to achieve financial and philanthropic success.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR OUT TO CHANGE THE NON-PROFIT WORLD To get our message out there so that more people start accessing the information available at Place2Give, Dexterity Ventures Inc. uses a number of different marketing mechanisms. The most prominently used one at present time is social media. Through Dexterity Consulting’s blog and newsletter, we provide information and updates about the sector as a whole. To keep our community up to date with what we are doing we use twitter and Facebook, both through Dexterity Consulting as well as Place2Give. You can visit our websites at http://www.dexterityconsulting.ca/and http://www.place2give.com/ to read our blog or follow us at @DexterityCon and @Place2Give as well as our Facebook pages. Not only are we able to convey our messages out to the non-profit and social enterprise communities, but the input we receive back from them is also invaluable and has helped guide us in the right direction on a number of occasions.

Additional information:

What is the best advice you never got? I should have built up the technology before the consulting.

What is the one thing that you did right? I created an Advisory Board before I incorporated the company. This allowed me to have a base of knowledge, expert guidance and established credibility in the market. When I incorporated and began issuing shares outside of friends and family, some of these advisors moved over to be directors of my company.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)? I never thought that I would be running a “.com”. A background in non-profit management and Jewish Communal Service seems an unlikely pairing to a database platform. Learning how to move from the charitable sector into the technology sector and also develop a language bridge between charities and financial services has been the most challenging and the most rewarding.

Are you doing any type of Search Engine Optimization? Yes – all of our postings are tagged, we are regular contributors on other sites and of course by linking our twitter, facebook, linkedin and other social media accounts back to our sites (Place2Give.com and DexterityConsulting.ca) we are improving our ranking on a regular basis.

What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference? You have to have an appetite for risk, but it is a fun ride.

What book(s) have you read that others should read? Lots – they are all posted on the bookshelf section of Dexterity Consulting. http://www.dexterityconsulting.ca/bookshelf

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