Olive dishes or MGifts?

Are you willing to invest just 8 minutes, to make a difference to many in need?  Let’s start the clock!

First, spend just 5 minutes, really looking around your home for multiple occurrences of “things”; past gifts, both on display, and hidden in your drawers and cupboards.

How many salad serving sets do you have?  How many menorah’s? How many salt & pepper shakers?  Anyone for unused silver photo frames?

Now, take them all out, put them all on your kitchen table, gasp a little, and come back to this article.  Go on, do it … I’m still here.  I’ll wait …

….. You’re either extremely unpopular, or like many, you too have enough “things” for your own antiques roadshow or car boot sale.

Oy, you didn’t find the silver cake knife that Auntie Lottie brought as a present  for the seder in 2007?  It’s because you already had three, and you gave it away as a gift at the Solomon’s seder, in 2010.  Aha, yes. Now you remember. I wonder how many they have?

I wonder too, how many of the gifts I received were unwanted gifts received by others?  Were any of the gifts I received actually bought by me, and have simply been circling the “unwanted gifts circuit” for a year or two? I wish I’d used a clever magic marker to prove out my theory!.

But mother said: “You Can’t Go Empty Handed”

We all gain collections of things we don’t need, don’t want and wouldn’t have bought with our own, hard earned cash. It’s a cultural thing. Your mother taught you “But you can’t go empty handed”. So you don’t. Sometimes, you take plates of food, or chocolates, and other times, you go to that special shop on the high street that sells only things nobody wants, where you buy an anonymous something, pay extra for gift wrapping, (mother said … ), and when you arrive for the Shabbat meal, you knock on the door, and the show begins.

“Just a little something for Lorna”.

“Oh, Solly, you shouldn’t have”

“It’s nothing, really”.

“Just what we wanted.  Another olive dish, to go on display with the seven others you brought in the last 2 years.”

“We also thought of buying chocolates, or a cuckoo clock, but we know how much Lorna loves olives”.

“Actually, she’s allergic”.

“Oh, you never said a word. That’s so considerate of you.”

“We’re keeping them for the grandchildren. We give the children olives every day.  We’re investing for the future; building hope”.

“Something to announce?”

“Please. Do come in.”

We’re experts at buying presents nobody wants/needs

Step back, and think of how much you spend a year, buying things for others that they didn’t want or need, that ended up being put in storage, or even worse, in glass display cabinets, or given away when they next visited friends for dinner.

If you had the choice, would you be willing to donate that amount to one or more charities of your choice, instead of buying “things”?  Not all at once.  $10 for the next time you’re invited to the Blacks, (instead of buying chocolates), $20 (they’re family) at the Levy’s instead of an olive dish, and $30 watching the World Cup Final at Yoni”s (instead of buying beer – You’re driving and anyway, he always has some in the fridge!).

Yes, I know your mother said “don’t go empty handed”, so would it help if the person you’re visiting would receive confirmation that you donated to a charity? They’d know your chosen charity name and its cause, (“oh, that’s so thoughtful of you”), but not the actual amount you donated. You’d get the respect that you’ve found a next-generation way of pleasing mother (“you can’t go empty handed”), and that you’ve found a great cause, together with the unspoken thanks for not buying yet another unwanted gift, negating the need for your close family or friends to buy another glass fronted display case.

Oh, and to add to it, wouldn’t it be great if you, as a donor, would automatically receive a tax deductible receipt for your generosity?  When was the last time an olive dish or a silver cake knife were recognised as tax deductible?

Hmm .. food for thought, eh?

Introducing MGifts …

So here you have it. MGifts. The brainchild of Arron and Andi Saitowitz, husband and wife team, originally from South Africa, now of Ranaana.

Arron and Andi Saitowitz, founders of MGifts
Photo: Nir Keider

It all started when they hosted guests, and thought about the collection of unwanted gifts now cluttering their kitchen table.  “What if our guests would have each donated a little to the charities of their choices, instead of bringing us these things that we don’t particularly want or need?”.

Welcome to www.mgifts.org.

The MGifts Challenge!

If all you do is read this article and say “nice idea”, then I’ve failed.

Please now invest the final 3 minutes I asked you to reserve at the beginning of this article.

Go to www.mgifts.org now, go through the donation process, donating just $5 to a charity of your choice, just to experience the full process, thereby becoming an immediate MGifts alumnus.  Select your spouse or a friend or a work colleague as the recipient, and see how easy it is. Then, add a comment at the bottom of this blog to say you made your first MGift donation, and then send this article to your friends and family, and talk about it at home and at work. You, can today, spark a viral change, saving the world from future olive dishes, whilst helping many in real need enjoy an improved life.

It’s this easy …

  • Go to www.mgifts.org.
  • Select the “Occasion”, ie the reason behind making a donation.  Choose from Shabbat & Chaggiym, Birthday or Anniversary, Simcha, In Memory, or “Other” (you enter your reason).
  • Select the country where your charity resides.  You can currently choose from Israeli, USA, Canada and South Africa.  As you’ll see, the UK and Australia are in the pipeline.
  • Select one of the listed charities in your chosen country.
  • Choose the amount you want to donate (Ranges from $5 to %100), enter your credit card information, add a personal message (eg “Lorna, instead of buying you a beautiful olive dish as a gift for shabbat dinner, we’ve decided to upgrade ourselves to the next generation, and to instead, donate a similar amount to this wonderful charity.  I’m sure the sick children will benefit more from our donation than your glass fronted display cabinet will”
  • Click on Submit Donation.

That’s it!  You will get an email confirming the donation, and a tax deductible receipt, and Lorna will get an email with your personal message.

From olive dishes to MGifts …

The challenge is how to change the culture from an olive dish to an MGift.  It’s up to you.  The next time you’re invited out, tell your host you’re going to give an MGift, explain what it is, and give one before the event.  Make sure it’s a conversation point over the chopped liver, and encourage your host to confirm it’s a preferred substitute for olive dishes and silver cake knives. Challenge the other guests to visit the website, to try giving an MGift themselves, and last but not least, tell them that mother would be very proud.

About the Author
Originally from England, Stuart Ballan moved to Israel in 1997. He has over 25 years business and B2B sales experience working in companies of every size, including his own. Stuart holds an MBA from the Kellogg-Recanati Executive MBA program and has been the President of the Kellogg-Recanati Alumni Club since 2002. To balance life, Stuart writes and publishes children’s books, with his first book selling 10,000 copies, here in Israel, and is a keen cyclist. He is passionate about how his first book, "Who Invented Vegetables?", as part of a bigger plan, can help young children to eat better, thereby reducing the overweight and obesity epidemic that is now rampant.