It is fitting that, as we begin to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we share our conversation with successful philanthropist, Shimmy Mehta, founder of Angelwish. Angelwish is a digital nonprofit that provides an accessible way to grant wishes to millions of children who suffer from chronic illnesses. Below are some highlights from our conversation in which Shimmy takes us behind the scenes of his incredible charity and discusses the global importance of paying it forward.
Click here to listen to the entire conversation.
Big Business to Nonprofit
Shimmy spoke of his hectic early career in finance, working crazy hours and never having the time to pursue his philanthropic interests. He wanted to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters but couldn’t commit to the regular participation needed. He was going through what he calls a “quarter-life crisis.” He always saw giving back to the community as valuable and important and reminisced of a time when it was a normal part of doing business. During the dot com bubble, he saw his friends and colleagues working 24/7: All sorts of parties and games were going on, but no part of the business was dedicated to giving back to charity.
After the dot com bubble imploded, people got a little more selfish and greedy. A generation of people were now uninvolved in community service. Shimmy looked around and thought about how he could impact so many lives with the money from one round of drinks. Of course it’s not a ton of money, so it couldn’t do a lot, but it could make a difference in just one sick kid’s life. He thought of the poor children with HIV that he worked with in college. The money saved on one round of drinks could go very far for one of those kids. A nerf basketball hoop. A few board games. “Let’s put the haves with the needs and the wants,” he thought.
Angelwish: Making it Easy to Make a Difference
Angelwish.org is set up to make it easy to donate in 2 different ways:
In a world of a million other charities, Angelwish stands out because the giving is very personal. Shimmy doesn’t want his donors to just write a check and walk away. He engages people. And when you grant a wish, it’s an entire wish, not part of one. There’s instant gratification.
Establishing Value to Donors
We had a question from one of our listeners about the best way to market your product or platform with a restricted budget outside of email lists and Facebook ads. How do you get in front of the right audience or get them to donate to your organization?
Shimmy says you have to hustle. A lot of his success has come from word of mouth–guerilla marketing. He warns that you can’t do it blindly, though. You have to be focused on establishing value to people. Why should they utilize you?
Shimmy provided an example of a successful strategy he uses: He got Angelwish to be included in a company’s corporate giving. This was in lieu of a traditional toy drive. Toy drives require time and effort that Angelwish can take on for them. Companies want to save money. Customers want to save on cost. In this scenario, both the company and Angelwish are benefiting. Focus on where you’re adding value to your audience and they’ll be drawn to you.
Who you are? What are you? What do you stand for?
Another listener had a question about branding and positioning your business. What’s the best and fastest way?
Branding is not marketing, and marketing is not branding. Branding is more about your messaging, what you’re about, and what people know you for. So ask yourself: Who you are? What are you? What do you stand for?
According to Shimmy, after the marketing hustle is done, your audience is identified and you have their attention, then it’s time to build that relationship with them — strengthening the connection for them based on what their values and goals are. You shouldn’t mimic what they want to hear. You should be helping them to connect the dots: Show how their organizational goals and mission statement aligns with yours.
Shimmy explains how he built Angelwish’s brand to fit every company he works with in some way, shape, or form. There are elements of what they do online that fit certain companies. Angelwish has themed charitable events, like their annual wiffle-ball tournaments, that are tailored to other companies’ cultures. Angelwish’s brand grows because companies see them initially for one thing and then get a broader picture as they become engaged in different ways.
Listen to our entire conversation with Shimmy here.
Learn more, follow, and donate!
Co-founders & Managing Partners