Chanukah App Entices Teens to Give Back
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Chanukah App Entices Teens to Give Back

Clink! allows teens to create a personalized giving plan.

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers abuses of power in non-profit and religious settings. She heads up the Investigative Journalism Fund, an initiative to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting. Reach her at hannah@jewishweek.org

Interested in giving back this Chanukah? There’s an app for that.

This week, the Jewish Communal Fund, a New York-based donor advised fund, released Clink!, a new app aimed to help teens and tweens discover their own style of giving. The app begins with a quiz, modeled after those found in teen magazines, called “What’s My Giving Type?” Users then select between 27 different causes, ranging from poverty, hunger and bullying to Jewish education, women’s rights and substance abuse.

“The app is simple, friendly and attractive to the eye,” said Theo Canter, a 9th grade student at Heschel High School who tested the app. “It helps you choose what causes you are strongly passionate about and then shows you ways to give back.”

Ariella Danziger, another Heschel 9th grade tester, said the tool helped her identify the causes that inspire her. “It helps people find their place in charitable giving,” she wrote in an email.

JCF currently has over 100 fund holders under the age of 18, a number that his been steadily growing over the past decade according to Tamar Snyder, associate director of JCF, who headed the project. Many of the teen fund holders are children and grandchildren of adult donors, while others began funds as a way to give back with their bar/bat mitzvah money.

“Teens are looking for interactive ways to give,” Snyder said.

“This new format engages teens in a creative way so that they don’t think giving is just another homework assignment.”

The app is one more step in the burgeoning trend of teen philanthropy, Snyder said. According to JTFN cofounder Ricky Shechtel, Jewish teen foundations award between $1 million and $2 million annually. A September 2013 study sponsored by the United Nations Foundation found that nearly 9 out of 10 American youth between the ages 8 and 19 give money to organizations dedicated to charitable causes. The research confirmed that young people today are more hungry to give then ever before.

Teens have a very different attitude when it comes to managing their own resources, Snyder said.

“Teens can often view their parents money as a free-for-all,” she said. “But when they give from their own funds, they feel empowered and responsible to see the project through,” she said.

After sorting through the different available causes, users swipe the screen until they are left with the top three categories of need. Teens then shuffle a range of activities (such as organizing a food drive for a local food bank or participating in a walkathon to raise funds for juvenile diabetes) in each of their three target areas to reflect their own personalized giving style.

Young donors also learn how closely their giving choices are aligned with the “Giving Ladder” — the eight levels of charitable giving outlined by the 12th-century sage Maimonides, making the app an educational tool as well. Upon completion, teens receive a badge they can share on social media platforms and via email, which showcases their preferred charitable giving style.

The app was produced in partnership with G-dcast, a new media production company dedicated to raising basic Jewish literacy. Though JCF considered reserving the app for fund holders, they decided to make it free and available to all in the hopes of engaging more teens.

“We weren’t interested in an project that would just be shelved,” said Snyder. “We wanted to create something teens would actually use. And one thing we didn’t anticipate: parents and grandparents really like it too.”

editor@jewishweek.org

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