Naomi Brounstein - Co-Founder of Ten Gav

Talk to everyone you meet about your project. You never know who is in a position to help you. And you never know what kind of helpful tips you might receive.

Naomi Brounstein is one of Ten Gav’s co-founder who was first trained as a lawyer in Toronto and then completed a master’s in social work at Tel Aviv University which was helpful to ensure her smooth transition into a professional career in the Israeli volunteer sector. She believes that crowdfunding is a viable and meaningful way of giving and can’t stop tweaking the Ten Gav web site into the wee hours of the morning.

Her co-founder is Vivi Mann, who brought her experience as a management consultant in the US with her when she moved to Israel and was responsible for spearheading the Max Brenner Chocolate franchise operation in the Jerusalem region. Today, she is deeply involved with the social service aspect of the Ten Gav organization. She is determined to find more and better ways for Israelis-in-need to leave the cycle of poverty and create better lives for themselves and their families.

Where did the idea for Ten Gav come from?

My co-founder Vivi Mann and I have known each other for years, live in the same town and are both active in community service. We recognized a similar passion in each other for service to the disadvantaged and had often spoken about working on a joint project together. When a mutual friend stepped in and offered to fund an Internet giving concept, we did our research, hammered out our ideas as to what would work in Israel, and launched Ten Gav.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day begins like most people today….by opening the computer and checking email. I like to see what donations came in and which of our stories people chose to give to! That’s exciting and heartwarming. There’s lots of administrative work. Processing payments and administering similar to any small business; updating the website; letters to be written; technical problems to be solved;Facebook, Tweets and pics to post. Then there is the other side of the business: talking with social workers. We receive requests from them on behalf of clients; we follow up with questions and clarifications; we speak with suppliers; arrange for delivery of goods and confirm receipt of items and/or services. The best part is receiving (sometimes) heartfelt thank you letters and words of encouragement from families in need and from social service agencies. When you know you’ve been a matchmaker, connecting donors to a family in need, and in that way have facilitated making a real difference in someone’s life, well,that’s a meaningful way to spend your day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My co founder and I enjoy each others company and we like to talk, to share ideas, articles, both in the office and over a coffee and sandwich at a neighborhood cafe. We spend a great deal of time…just talking. We throw around ideas; we analyze them; we clarify them; we revisit them, and then we implement them. We also spend a lot of time speaking and meeting with our social services partners. We want to benefit from their “frontline” experience in order to understand where the needs arise and learn about other potential sources of support. We ask a lot of questions because we want to know how to best serve our “stories” as well as our donors.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Crowd funding of course. We based the Ten Gav concept on the idea that people want to come together to help other people in need when certain criteria are met. In the case of Ten Gav, it’s about making a change in one family’s life. You read our stories, pick a family to help, contribute whatever portion you want and then you wait for other like-minded people to join you in funding the need you chose. When a need has been fully funded, Ten Gav sends you an email and lets you know that you, together with a few other good people have funded the fridge, the oven, the English course, the laptop computer. It’s an extremely satisfying giving experience . Knowing that Ten Gav provides the platform and the access for everyday people to contribute to real needs that have been verified by professional social workers and thereby allows them to give knowing that their dollars are making a real difference in someone’s life….all of that excites us.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I get into bed at night and review in my mind and on my phone the various “to do” items that I think I did that day and often I’ll realize at that point that something is still incomplete. The process allows me to review with some distance the day’s work and “close the corners” as we say in Hebrew.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I was a bellhop and waitress at a kosher restaurant on my university campus. That was many years ago and I learned to appreciate the importance of giving respect to anyone and everyone that is doing a job for you.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure that I would have gone to law school. I did reap the benefits of getting a great education, however, I think I should have gone where my heart told me initially…into Jewish education. I was once passionate about that and I think I could have been a good educator.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Talk to everyone you meet about your project. You never know who is in a position to help you. And you never know what kind of helpful tips you might receive.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Using a combination of social media together with direct email has increased awareness of our stories and the accumulated effect has been to bring in new donors.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Despite researching and interviewing numerous candidates for a particular job that was important to our development, we chose a team that ultimately we had to terminate. That was a negative experience from many perspectives and it’s difficult to move beyond the effects of such an error in judgment. The only way to overcome something like that however is to keep moving forward, not to be afraid to make additional mistakes and to force yourself to continue to trust your judgment.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

My partner Vivi and I operate a not-for-profit, not a business. So i’m going to give you an idea for a not-for-profit. We get a lot of people who suggest filling some of the requests that come to us with second hand goods and services. This is impractical for many many reasons, some of which are technical. My idea would be to develop a mobile app that could keep track of available second hand goods (their specifics such as quality, type, measurements), and their physical location, allowing a social worker for example, to go online and track down what she needs for her client and facilitate matching volunteer drivers who are going to be able to help her transfer and deliver that item. Such an app could work well in a small country like Israel where the distances are not so great.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I gave a donation to Ten Gav in memory of my friend’s late mother and I included in the card to her a personal letter why I chose to earmark the money to the case I did and how it was connected to my personal memories of my friend’s mother. It was much more meaningful to her than I could have ever anticipated.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

We developed our website using Wix. It gives us tremendous flexibility to change our designs, to come up with new ways to tweak our giving experience and to constantly add new pages and design elements whenever we want. One example is that we are launching a Rosh Hashana campaign in mid August and have created new pages for the website. In addition, we have the ability to design a personal web page for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah kid or for a school who wants to do a joint educational project with Ten Gav such as SAR school in Riverdale. I think that for any new operation, the ability to constantly make changes to your web design as you assess what is working well and what is working less well, is a great advantage.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Joseph Gitler, is the founder of Israel’s national food bank, Leket and is both a personal friend and one of our founding funders. He and Leket have changed the face of how we view a multiple of important topics in Israel including food insecurity, food rescue, and food overindulgence. In addition, his example is appropriate for the “Ten Gav” model because in building Leket he was driven by a guiding principle that we share with him, namely, that one person can make a real difference in one family’s life. That’s what the Ten Gav giving experience is all about.

Connect:

http://www.tengav.org/
Email: [email protected]
Ten Gav on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tengav
Naomi Brounstein on LinkedIn: https://il.linkedin.com/pub/naomi-jacobs-brounstein/98/b09/716

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