Interview With Love Drop Co-Founder J. Money
Recently, J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy reached out to us to let us know about a new project he and Nate St. Pierre started called Love Drop—a new micro-giving network designed to help one family per month.
Check out Nate's video on the inspiring premise of Love Drop and our interview with J. Money below.
Wise Bread: Tell us how Love Drop works.
J. Money: It's nice and simple. Every month our members come together and "drop" some financial love on a family who really needs our help. Some give $5.00, and others $1.00 - but it's the whole idea that if hundreds of people did it all at the same time, we could directly affect a person's life in a major way! (Think Home Extreme Makeover, only not with homes... yet.)
The money is just part of it. We don't show up on their doorstep and just give them a pile of cash - we learn all about these families and share their stories of positivity and generosity online despite their current situation. As these video episodes and stories are released every week, our Love Droppers are behind the scenes raising other goods and services to support these families even more. And that's what this whole project is really about - community. People coming together to give back and make a difference in a super easy way.
How did you come up with the idea of Love Drop?
We (myself and Nate St. Pierre) both came up with this idea a long time ago before even meeting each other! Nate was already leading a team of people giving time in small increments every week and I was blogging all day long about personal finances. When we were introduced, it was the perfect combination of skills and interests to finally get this puppy started. The organization has been constantly evolving ever since, but our main goals of providing a fun and unique way to give back is still the cornerstone of what we're doing here. And one of our favorite parts is the fact that everyone can DIRECTLY see where their support is going each month! Within four weeks (max) you get to watch your money or clothes or tax services/etc go right into the hands of the family we're currently helping. You literally see us presenting these gifts right there at their home. We put it all online, and then we start all over again the next day. It's awesome.
Tell us about yourself and your cofounder, Nate.
I (J. Money) have been blogging at my site BudgetsAreSexy.com for almost 3 years now. It started as a place for me to ramble on about money and how I was saving (and spending!) a lot here and there, but now I like to think of it as a place where we as a community start up conversations based around a certain topic every day. A lot of people aren't comfortable talking about money in "real life," so it's nice to have places like this where we can share our ideas and solutions freely without worrying about Uncle Joe jumping down our throat. Exactly like how it is here at Wise Bread.
Our co-founder Nate St. Pierre is the man behind ItStartsWith.US and DropALoveBomb.com, where he organizes thousands of people to give back a few minutes of their time every week. At It Starts With Us he gives out a 15-minute mission to all his teammates asking them to do 1 small thing for their neighbor or friend, or even stranger, and with his Love Bomb crew he and his partner, Lauren Lankford, get hundreds of people to drop a comment of support and encouragement on a blogger who's really going through some tough times in their lives. It's all about giving back with Nate, and he's a damn good inspiration.
Besides you and Nate, who else is on the team? Who is doing the day-to-day work?
HAH! You're pretty much looking at it. Well actually, let me rephrase. Nate and I manage the day-to-day operations and management/marketing/organizing/community building/etc aspects of our company, but then we have the brilliant Hildebrand Creative who produce and shoot our video series. It's the four of us who pretty much power this thing forward. We're not gonna lie - it's a LOT of work. Nate and I literally spend 10 hours a day making sure everything's on track, 7 days a week, and there's always more to do by the end of it. But as all small business owners know, there's nothing better than being emersed in your own projects and doing everything from top to bottom. We've made Love Drop our full-time gigs right now and we are beyond excited to continue watching it grow!
How does one apply to become the next LoveDrop recipient? What are the qualifications? What is the selection process like?
You can't necessarily apply to become a Love Drop recipient, but you can nominate someone you think could really benefit from our community's support. Only members have the ability to do this and there are a lot of variables for us to review each month. Believe me, it's heart wrenching trying to select just ONE out of dozens of people needing our help! One of the most important factors we look for is their general outlook on life. We want to help those who are positive and genuinely trying to give back despite their troubled situation. We're not about swooping in and paying things off just for the heck of it - we want to find those families who have the greatest hearts in the world and just need a little push to get back on their feet and continue improving their surroundings. One of the most surprising (and difficult) things we've actually found so far, is making these chosen recipients ACCEPT our gifts! The first thing they want to do is give it to someone who "needs it more than them," and it's exactly that spirit that makes us proud to come together for them.
According to your website, the donations break down as follows: 50% to the recipient, 20% to taxes, and 30% to running Love Drop. Can you tell us a little bit about how the 30% is spent?
Yup, but first let me clarify that none of this money is considered a "donation." We're not a 501(c)3 - which I'll explain more in a bit - and you can't take any tax write offs from it. Love Drop is more of a "membership" type site where people basically pay what they want. Whether you have $1 or $1,000 to spare, all members get the same access to our community platform and they can come and go as they please.
Now back to your 30% question. You are correct - this portion of the membership money goes directly to our operating budget. Just like with other small businesses, this money covers production expenses, legal services, accounting services, marketing, travel, salaries, web design, hosting, etc. As you can imagine, 30% doesn't come close to covering it. This is where our corporate sponsors come in each month and really help us out. By using their portion to pay for a large chunk of our operations, it allows us to give out more of our member's money directly to the families every month! Currently, 50% of donations are given to recipients. That number will never go down, but our hope is to eventually bring that number up and up as we raise more awareness over time.
Is Love Drop a 501(c)3 organization? If no, why not? Will you make your expenses transparent to the public?
Nope, Love Drop is not a 501(c)3 charity. We are a small business doing charitable things. We wanted to build something super simple and scalable where we can focus on the “doing of good” over the red tape and restrictions a charity can bring (what you see online is what you get when it comes to our finances - there's really nothing more to it). It had been a constant work in progress for seven months straight, but as soon as we realized we could create our own little hybrid here, Love Drop was up and runnning in no time. Within 24 hours we had our first version of our site live and over 15 new members to our team! That was pretty eye opening for us and proves that at the end of the day people just want to help.
We know there are those who feel more comfortable giving to a charity - and we totally encourage that - we're just offering another fun and creative way to get out there and directly make a difference in people's lives. It's nice and simple and we're having a blast so far.
Tell us about the first Love Drop recipient and how and why you selected her.
Our first recipient is Jill! She is an awesome role model with a great great family and really is one of the most inspirational people we now have the pleasure of knowing. When you can survive being homeless (TWICE!) and literally lose everything you own in a fire and still keep smiling, there's really no words to explain how moving that is. Her story of moving on and giving back to the community throughout everything is truly incredible. We can't wait to show her all we've raised so far for her family - you can pretty much bet on me crying at the end of it.
If people don't have money to donate, are there other ways to help out?
Absolutely! I'm glad you asked that because we're really excited about some of the things we're currently working on together:
- If you're a blogger, you can join our blogger network! We'll give you all the content you need and all you have to do is blog about the person we're helping that month. It's a super easy and rewarding way to spread the word and raise more support for our families.
- You can join our Street Team - We have a small army of volunteers all around the web (and also on the ground) across North America. Their mission is to spread the word about Love Drop and provide support for our activities, both online and off - including social media.
- You can give a gift or service! Gift cards, clothes, fun stuff for the kids, letters, home-made items, etc etc. Jill's family currently needs all of this stuff above, but every month we'll have a new list of items we think can really help out each of these families.
If you'd like to provide any of these items above, or have other ideas of your own (we love ideas!) you can email us at team (at) lovedrop.us and we'll make it happen. To become a member of Love Drop, you can sign-up here. Thank you all!
Editor's Note: We haven't tried out Love Drop yet but we're very interested in learning more about this fascinating new way to give. If you are a Love Drop member please share your experiences with this program in the comments.