With Christmas fast approaching, many parents are running around stores searching of this year’s most popular gifts. Given the temporary nature of ‘must-have’ toys on the market, many will be right back in line next year.
With this in mind, Tanya Van Court, an African-American NYC-based mother of three, launched iSow, an innovative funding platform that encourages “goal-giving” instead of gift giving. Sow disrupts the broken gift-giving dynamic for young people by enabling those who love them to give monetary gifts that support meaningful goals in their lives.
Earlier this month, Van Court took time out of her busy schedule to speak to UrbanGeekz about what inspired her to launch iSow . The idea was first conceived when Van Court’s daughter told her that for her 9th birthday she wanted “a bike and enough money to start an investment account.”
“My daughter’s wish for her birthday showed me that we are wasting tons of money giving kids lots of stuff they don’t want for their birthday and holidays, and teaching them the wrong values – values of consumerism and excess,” said Van Court, a former high-flying corporate executive with two degrees in engineering from Sanford.
“Even more importantly, however, her wish represented a little girl who was goal-oriented, and who wanted to attain two goals more than she wanted lots of gifts for her birthday. Since we all know that goal creation is the first step to wealth creation, teaching our kids to establish goals for themselves when they are young is a powerful first step in training them to establish bigger goals when they are adults.”
iSow solves the problem of gift-giving on both the receiving end – young people who get too much “stuff” throughout the year and don’t value it (30% of parents throw away, give away, or re-gift their children’s gifts)- and on the giving end – loved ones who feel like they are wasting their money every birthday/holiday/special occasion and want to spend their money on meaningful gifts that do not contribute to excessive consumerism.
“As a mom who is constantly trying to steer my children away from becoming mini-consumers, I developed Sow with the intent of solving two problems with which we are all plagued: finding the right gifts for the children in our lives on birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, and teaching our children to both understand and value money.”
iSow allows children and young people to actively establish both short and long-term goals that positively impact their lives and the lives of others, and simultaneously participate in the save, spend, share model of financial growth. On the platform children are able to Sow for: Savings (for college, investments or a rainy day), Causes (donating money to organizations or causes) and Wishes (bikes, trips, gadgets etc.)
“iSow makes gift giving meaningful and simultaneously teaches children to be both socially responsive and financially responsible. Once kids receive money towards their goals instead of receiving more plastic goods, we aim to teach them how money can be used for good instead of goods, so we introduce them to philanthropic causes, long-term savings vehicles like investment accounts, and college funds.”
Sow also enables family and friends to donate & make contributions towards these save/share/spend goals that the kids in their lives are passionate about rather than buying them more goods.
While traditional crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, focus on more adult-themed ventures, such as memorial funds and startups, iSow highlights the true impact that money can have on the future endeavors of kids. It also enhances financial literacy and philanthropy.
“iSow was actually not conceived as a ‘crowdsourcing’ site,” said Van Court, “It was conceived as a way to fix problems that we all experience when giving gifts to young people.”
The platform allows everyone over the age of 13 to create their own profile, but parents can also create a profile for their children. Users, or Sowers, can then receive funding for goals in three different categories: Savings for the future, sharing with causes and charities, and spending wisely on things that matter. Once your profile has been completed and your goals have been posted, users then share their profile with friends, family, and everyone in between.
Van Court expanded the idea for iSow to not only to re-engineer gift-giving for young people, but to bring awareness and help fund charities, and nonprofits that are making a difference all over the world.
“We have amazing partnerships with great charities that do great work for young people or support causes that young people care most about,” said Van Court. These causes include Save The Children, Purple Feet Foundation, The Waterkeeper’s Alliance, Girls Who Code, and many more.
iSow provides parents everywhere with an alternative to the never-ending cycle of buying material things that won’t survive the test of time. “Our aim from the beginning was to introduce a way for kids to get support for goals instead of goods,” said Van Court.