• Philosophy
    • Q: What is JChoice?
      A:  Jewish Causes of Choice, Inc. (“JChoice”) is a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation authorized to accept tax-deductible donations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

      JChoice facilitates and broadens the opportunity for individuals to perform Tzedakah through an organization global in reach and open to helping many deserving grass-roots causes in the United States and Israel.  JChoice dedicates its resources towards developing Jewish values education and community engagement programs. We promote one-to-one giving opportunities from a meaningful and relevant Jewish perspective. 

    • Q: Why was JChoice created?
      A:  JChoice’s mission is to empower the next generation of contributors to learn and experience the Mitzvah of Tzedakah and become more thoughtful in their relationship to society. JChoice was created to inspire the next generation of Jewish contributors to give Tzedakah (charity) online through meaningful charitable choices. Although Jchoice is predominantly “donor centered,” the Jewish values inside the Mitzvah (commandment) of Tzedakah (such as repairing the world: conferring dignity and caring on others and alleviating human suffering) relies upon encouraging and facilitating the continuous communication between causes and donors.

    • Q: What role does education play in JChoice?
      A:  JChoice dedicates the majority of its resources towards developing Jewish values education and community engagement programs.  In addition to fundraising and advocacy opportunities, the JChoice platform empowers its members to learn and engage each other about Tzedakah in creative and expressive ways. The JChoice website features music, videos, and wisdom relating to Tzedakah and our obligations to participate as a giving community.

    • Q: What does JChoice have to do with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
      A:  Being that the Bar or Bat Mitzvah was intended to occur at the beginning of one’s Jewish journey into adulthood, we have chosen to focus most of our initial campaign efforts on this age group. If a person begins adulthood by performing Tzedakah (which “is as important as all the other commandments put together” -- Baba Batra 9a, Babylonian Talmud), then, presumably, that person will perform Tzedakah for the rest of his or her life.

      As a result, many of the Causes that JChoice features are particularly meaningful to this age group. Nevertheless, persons of any age can also consider themselves part of “the next generation of contributors,” and we encourage their participation in JChoice.
    • Q: What does JChoice (and TheBMR.org) have to do with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
      A:  Because the Bar or Bat Mitzvah is intended to occur at the beginning of one’s Jewish journey into adulthood, we have chosen to dedicate a unique URL (which is a subsidiary of JChoice) called TheBMR.org (The B’nai Mitzvah Resource) in our efforts to engage this age group and their families to unite and support each other’s Mitzvah projects through their JChoice accounts. If a person begins adulthood by performing Tzedakah (which “is as important as all the other commandments put together” -- Baba Batra 9a, Babylonian Talmud), then, presumably, that person will perform Tzedakah for the rest of his or her life. 

      It is also our hope, that many of the Causes found on JChoice will be particularly meaningful to this age group. Nevertheless, JChoice.org is for persons of all ages to join and everyone is encouraged to participate in JChoice and open their own individual accounts.

       

    • Q: Why should I use JChoice?
      A:  Make a difference in the world by creating a place to engage friends and family in supporting your favorite causes.

      Create immediate impact to causes that you care about instantly, without having to re-enter your information and credit card information every time you give.

      Expand charitable consciousness by sending gift cards electronically or through the mail without having to enter your credit card information every time you want to give a gift.

      See your impact grow through our social network with your own email, blog and profile pages and so much more.

      Partner and connect with donor groups that care about the same causes that you do as you rally to change the world with your peers and affiliations such as camp and school friends.

      Always know your donation history.

      Empower others to build off of the change you create by Sharing Mitzvah projects such as your D’var Torah.

      JChoice passes on 100% of your donations to the causes of your choice. We do not take any fees from your transactions!

      JChoice provides the online ability to easily search, compare, and select a cause closest to your heart and donate directly to it. In many cases, small non-profit organizations do not have the mechanism to receive online donations.

    • Q: Are there laws relating to Tzedakah?
      A:  There are numerous laws and traditions relating to Tzedakah. The most basic Tzedakah law mandates that we are obligated to give. Although this is an obligation, there is a great spiritual value found in the process of “giving of ourselves” which interestingly makes us “a whole person.” For thousands of years, Jewish tradition has taught that we become better humans when we act outward, performing commandments and good deeds (Mitzvot) while treating all people with dignity.

    • Q: How does JChoice hope to stay relevant to the youth of today?
      A:  JChoice is both an attractive, appealing website AND a social network that empowers this online generation to explore Jewish values in action and discover their own character growth and heightened consciousness. At JChoice, the individual makes his or her own Tzedakah choices; group consensus is not required. 

      In addition, JChoice is creating ways for teens and parents to get involved through our workshops and programs “on the ground” in synagogues, day schools, summer camps and philanthropy programs. YouTube videos and other viral sensations have also captured the imagination of all generations to embolden their voice and reach for impacting social justice.

       

  • Financial
    • Q: How can I donate money?
      A:  Donations may be made via credit card or check.  You can also buy a JChoice Gift Card and give it as a gift for lifecycle events, and in honor or in memoriam.

    • Q: Is there a minimum donation?
      A:  Every donation makes a difference. The minimum donation to a Cause or donor group is $5.00. Larger donations are most welcome. At JChoice, we encourage giving in increments of $18 because in the Jewish tradition, the number eighteen is symbolically special because it is the numeric equivalent of the letters that spell “Chai” (Life).

      The message at JChoice is the same as the message of Tzedakah: It is not how much you give, but simply the fact that you give something.

    • Q: Can I use any credit card to make a donation?
      A:  JChoice accepts most major international credit cards:  VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

    • Q: How much of my donation actually gets to the Cause I select?
      A:  All of it. 100 percent of your donation goes directly to your cause.

      As a public charitable organization, JChoice’s operations are transparent and reported as required by law on a regular basis. For more information, please see our IRS Form 990

    • Q: Is my contribution tax deductible?
      A:  When a JChoice user deposits money into a charitable giving account, buys a gift card or donates to support JChoice operations, this money is immediately tax deductible and JChoice will issue a tax receipt per transaction.

    • Q: How do I track my donations?
      A:  As a member of JChoice, you can easily track the history of your donations in the “Account” section of your profile.

    • Q: Will I receive a receipt for my donation? From whom?
      A:  When a JChoice user deposits money into a charitable giving account, buys a gift card, gives to a cause or donates to support JChoice operations, this money is immediately tax deductible and JChoice will issue a tax receipt. In addition, our secure third-party credit card processing service also issues a receipt.

    • Q: How can I be sure that the money was used for the purposes of the donation?
      A:  Every JChoice cause will submit an annual report providing extensive financial reporting for the period covered, a narrative description of grant activities, and detailed information on program objectives and milestones consistent with the application the cause originally filed with JChoice. Additionally, visits from JChoice field officers will be scheduled with each grantee so that we may evaluate the use of the funds. 

    • Q: Does JChoice have any say about how the money received from a donor is spent?
      A:  All JChoice causes sign a grant agreement with JChoice to use JChoice-allocated funds only in the manner as declared on their Tzedakah application. Any cause that improperly uses funds will be required to repay JChoice any portion of the funds not used for the purposes identified in the Tzedakah application and the grant agreement, including any unexpended funds. All donors who contributed to that cause will be notified and money returned to JChoice will go back into the donor’s accounts for redistribution.

    • Q: When do the causes receive funds from JChoice?
      A:  JChoice will track the amount of funds cleared for distribution to the Cause. When the balance of funds reaches the Distribution Amount (initially $100, and thereafter $500), a distribution by check or electronic transfer will be made to the Cause within the next calendar month. The cause receives 100 percent of the allocated amount. 

    • Q: How is JChoice Funded?
      A:  JChoice’s administrative expenses are funded by a group of philanthropists who want to enable the next generation of contributors, and believe that a lifetime of giving should start early in life. These costs include the evaluation of JChoice causes, credit card and transaction fees (which can run as high as 7.5% of total donations), web hosting, maintenance and content, financial reporting, development and implementation of Jewish values education and community engagement programs, building content, and support of staff. 

      When donating to a JChoice cause, donors may also choose to donate an optional 10 percent directly to JChoice to help defray expenses.

       

    • Q: Does JChoice take donations? How will the funds be used?
      A:  Absolutely!  The vision of our founders is to create a JChoice endowment, the income of which will be used to pay any and all of our administrative expenses. We believe that by limiting our administrative costs and judiciously applying our future donations, we will be able to make their dream a reality.

      We don’t charge our members an administrative fee to donate their money to charity. 100% of each donation goes to the designated cause. 

       

    • Q: Are there ways that I can give in a non-monetary way?
      A:  There are many ways to help us advocate for Tikkum Olam without spending money.

      Are you on Facebook? We started a jchoice.org fan club. You could join with one click and invite your friends in a few minutes.  In this simple act of support, you will bring more attention to our new social network. Since we just launched, every positive word about us really helps.


      Also, joining JChoice.org is free. You can open a profile and network with others in the community who share your passions. 


      Each cause has ways to get involved on their page as well. As you find the causes that you care about, you are welcome to contact them and reflect about it on your profile, too. 

    • Q: Is JChoice.org PCI compliant?
      A:  When you make a contribution on JChoice.org, your credit card information is collected and processed by our secure third-party credit card vendor First Data. No data is stored on JChoice.org servers.

    • Q: Is JChoice a Donor Advised Fund?
      A:  A JChoice gift account is a donor-advised fund. JChoice policy and certain legal rules govern the use of assets placed in donor-advised funds. Please read the Charitable Giving accounts section of our legal matters page to learn more.

    • Q: Is there a minimum contribution to open my JChoice giving account?
      A:   No.

    • Q: What happens to the money in my giving account if I don’t recommend a donation to charity?
      A:  Unlike some other donor-advised funds, our job is only half done when money goes into a giving account. We want to see money turn into good works. Therefore, if a giving account remains inactive (failure to either contribute to or distribute from your account) for 12 months, JChoice may act to take away the account holder’s power to recommend charitable grants. JChoice in its sole discretion may elect to transfer the assets from inactive accounts to the JChoice Charitable Pool. Once a year, funds placed in the JChoice Charitable Pool are donated to charity in accordance with the recommendations of the Charitable Allocation Committee of the JChoice Board of Directors. Holders of inactive accounts will be notified 90, 60, and 30 days before JChoice transfers their funds to the JChoice Charitable Pool. Any account activity before such transfer will return the account to active status. 

  • Causes
    • Q: What is a “Jewish” cause?
      A:  At JChoice we define a Jewish cause as any charity worthy of our attention as a Jewish community, thus empowering a donor to give from a Jewish perspective.  The mission of the cause itself must embody core Jewish values that may include, for example, saving a life, repairing the world, or protecting the earth.
    • Q: Which causes are included in the JChoice site?
      A:  There are well over a million charitable causes available online these days, a rather daunting figure when asked to make a “choice.” Our Causes Department initially strove to find and help some of the most overlooked and under funded causes acquire their necessary funds through JChoice.org.  In order to continue our work of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), JChoice also helps “well known” causes if they are considered “meaningful” to JChoice users.  All that is needed to begin the process is for a JChoice member to make a recommendation. The cause must then pass our vetting protocols and accept the responsibility to update their cause page.

    • Q: What is an overlooked cause?
      A:  An overlooked cause may include one that is not well known or is relatively new to the non-profit world. It may have a small staff, limited budget and/or facilities, or be mainly staffed by volunteers.

    • Q: How do I know that a JChoice Cause is legitimate?
      A:  At JChoice, there are very detailed and thoughtful evaluation criteria all causes must pass that look at their impact and effectiveness as well as projects and programs offered. You may view a Cause application on the “Becoming a JChoice Cause” page from the About JChoice link.  The vast majority of JChoice causes are also 501(c)(3)’s. In addition, causes in Israel, Canada and Mexico have similar governmental regulated systems that are recognized by JChoice. 

    • Q: Do charities pay to become a cause on JChoice?
      A:  There is no fee to be approved as a cause on JChoice.

    • Q: How is it possible for “Percent of Overhead Expenses” to sometimes be “0 percent”?
      A:  Sometimes a larger organization (like a synagogue) is acting as an umbrella organization over a smaller program for which funding is being requested. They are providing the administrative support so that 100 percent of the donation goes to the program itself.

    • Q: What is an organizational budget and how does JChoice evaluate the use of its funds?
      A:  An organization’s budget usually consists of two parts: Program Expenses and Overhead Expenses. “Program Expenses” are those costs directly related to the running of the organization’s program. “Overhead Expenses” are those costs involved in running the organization itself including administration and fundraising.

      When giving Tzedakah, one wants to donate to those organizations that are the most efficient users of funds. The lower the percent of “overhead expense,” the more Tzedakah-efficient an organization is.
       
      While this formula helps assess an organization’s use of their funds, it is also important to consider how “effective” an organization is with their money in relationship to their mission. It is important to remember that in some cases, the “overhead expenses” may be supporting more than one program. In many cases, the most effective organizations use of funds does not translate exactly to a rigid formula.
       
      Our evaluation process takes all these factors into consideration so that JChoice may help and support unusual and overlooked programs.
    • Q: How does an organization become a JChoice Cause?
      A:  Any charity, program, or organization may download and complete a Tzedakah grant application from our website at any time. We have rolling admissions.

      Once approved, the organization will be notified of their acceptance and profiled on our site. Over the next year, we will follow up on a regular basis with phone calls and visits to monitor the organization’s use of provided funding. We want to make sure the received funding is being used directly for the profiled program. 

      Every organization will be reviewed on an annual basis, plus additional reviews if they have reached their funding potential, or $18,000 cap. At these reviewing milestones, JChoice retains the right to continue the cause, ask the organization to switch to another program within its organization, or remove the cause to give another compelling Cause the opportunity to be profiled.

      If you know of an organization that is seeking help, please contact us and we will be happy to consider their cause for JChoice inclusion.

       

       

    • Q: Can causes acknowledge their supporters?
      A:  Causes are encouraged to be active members of the JChoice network by using the JChoice website to communicate with members about their program’s effectiveness and relate other news and events from the cause. Causes will only know the identity of donors by their JChoice screen name. Causes are not allowed to solicit donors directly through mail and phone calls.

    • Q: It sounds like any cause can be a “Jewish” cause. What about “traditional” Jewish causes?
      A:   Every cause on JChoice is indeed a Jewish cause as it can be searched by its Jewish values. However, in order to balance Hillel’s maxims “if I am for myself alone, who will be for me” with “if I am for myself alone, what am I”, that is, the particular and the universal, the JChoice cause department adheres to two ground rules: 1) 50% of all JChoice causes selected can be classified as “traditional Jewish causes,” and 2) 30% of all JChoice causes (that are part of the traditional 50%) are located in Israel.  (The ease of donating through JChoice enables donors to fulfill Hillel’s third maxim, “if not now, when?”)

    • Q: What is a “traditional Jewish cause?”
      A:  Projects and/or organizations whose name has “Jewish,” “Israel” or “Hebrew” in its title and/or whose mission directly benefits the Jewish community, the Jewish people and/or Israel.

       

    • Q: How do I add my favorite cause(s)?
      A: 

      Thank you for your interest in adding important non-profits to the JChoice Tzedakah platform. As our goal is to Make Tzedakah Happen, JChoice will review any non-profit for inclusion.

      Please review the following directions.

  • Security
    • Q: What is our system/procedure for insuring anonymity of JChoice members?
      A:  We understand that a parent could be concerned about privacy and security, as JChoice features the use of the Internet and social networking as a method of community building. However, we have found a way to alleviate that fear by utilizing a principle found in Jewish tradition, namely that giving anonymously is a higher level of giving.  As a result, each member of JChoice is encouraged to choose their own screen name, which should not be an identifiable real name. In addition, those users under the age of 13 are required to provide a guardian name and email address. Upon their registration on the site, JChoice will email the guardian a notification of their membership. Guardians may request that their child’s account me be removed through JChoice’s customer service department.
    • Q: What protections are available online for abusive behavior?
      A:  In order to send and receive emails and messages within JChoice, each member must set up a JChoice account by entering and confirming their real identity. This data is kept in confidence by JChoice and will not be discoverable outside of our organization. In addition, there is a system in which JChoice members can report inappropriate behavior.

    • Q: How do I know my child is protected from bad influences online?
      A:  Should there be any abuse in the system or inappropriate correspondence or postings, we can be notified immediately and we will hold the individual accountable, up to and including termination of their account if they are found to have engaged in objectionable behavior.

    • Q: Do children under 13 need permission from their parents to become members of JChoice.org?
      A:  The JChoice.org website is intended for people of all ages, but we recognize that parents and guardians may wish to monitor, or control how their minor children use the Internet. As a result, anyone under 13 who joins JChoice.org must provide a parent or guardian’s name and email. JChoice notifies the identified parent or guardian of the minor’s membership, and allows the parent or guardian the option of cancelling the minor’s membership.

    • Q: As a donor or member of JChoice, will I ever be solicited by a Cause directly as a result of using JChoice as the mechanism for donating?
      A:  Although Causes are encouraged to regularly communicate with donors and the JChoice community about their Cause via their JChoice cause page, they are not allowed to solicit the donor directly through mail and phone calls.

    • Q: Will I have to provide personal information when I join JChoice?
      A:  Yes. Because JChoice processes financial transactions, we must insure we have accurate personal information about members. We protect member information with a strict privacy policy, and will never sell or distribute donor information without permission. We ask for your email address so we can send you an email confirming that your donation was made.

    • Q: Will my personal information be visible on the JChoice Network?
      A:  No. Members of JChoice.org are encouraged to choose an anonymous screen name to secure their privacy and to adhere to the principle found in Jewish tradition that giving anonymously is a higher level of giving.

    • Q: Will JChoice share my personal information with Causes?
      A:  No. Although Causes are encouraged to communicate with donors and the JChoice community via their JChoice cause page, the JChoice cause agreement forbids them from contacting donors directly. However, certain organizations have special status and can obtain a member’s personal information if the member chooses to interact with or give to such causes on the JChoice network (see below for more information).

    • Q: Are there things I might do on the JChoice site that would allow causes to obtain my personal information?
      A:  Yes, JChoice allows Sponsoring Organizations and causes with Donor Groups to see the personal information of members who donate through a sponsoring organization’s cause page or join a cause’s Donor Group. Causes may use personal information they obtain for their own marketing, but they are forbidden from disseminating it to anyone else.

    • Q: How do I change my password?
      A:   If you cannot remember your password, click the "Forgot Password" link on the homepage next to the sign-in box or on the Network sign-in page.

      If you want to change your password, login and click "Profile/Edit." Scroll down and click the button next to "To change your password."

  • Methodology
    • Q: How do JChoice Gift Cards work?
      A:  A JChoice Gift Card (JCard) is a customizable gift cards that can be purchased at any amount ($5.00 minimum), in both electronic or physical form. JCards are among the most convenient ways to honor any person or life cycle event. JCards can be redeemed to support any JChoice Cause.

    • Q: What is the fee for a JChoice Gift Card?
      A:  There is no fee to purchase a JChoice Gift Card.

    • Q: Do JChoice Gift Cards expire?
      A:  No, but we will send out regular email reminders for donors to allocate their Tzedakah funds if they leave a balance for a length of time.

    • Q: Can I cancel a donation?
      A:  Jewish tradition has a long history of taking oaths and pledges very seriously. Once donations have been allocated to a Cause, they are not easily retracted. We do have a customer service department, however, and donors and Causes are encouraged to discuss any issues with us. All efforts will be made to make a speedy resolution in any cases of misunderstandings.

    • Q: What is our response if someone calls to report a technical problem on the site?
      A:  As a policy, one of our customer service representatives will get back to the person within 48 hours.

  • Community
    • Q: Who can donate money?
      A:  Anyone can donate money through JChoice.org.  Those under the age of 13 must have parental consent.

    • Q: What is a donor group?
      A:  Donor Group is a community of donors who support a favorite cause. By establishing a Donor Group, one person can multiply the power of his or her donation and increase the impact by having friends and family join in supporting a JChoice cause.

       

       

    • Q: What does it mean to be a member of JChoice?
      A:  Membership means an individual has registered for a JChoice Giving Account. A person must be registered as a member to use the social networking tools on the site.
       

    • Q: Why did I get a rejection notice when I asked to join a Donor Group?
      A:  Please be advised that JChoice.org is not responsible for any decisions made, or actions taken, by Donor Groups, including but not limited to, allocation of funds, member requests, and favorite Causes.

  • Community Guidelines for Members
    • Q: Sexual Content
      A:  Nudity and other sexual content is not allowed anywhere on JChoice, for any reason.  Posting photos or videos with nudity or sexual content will get your account immediately suspended or banned.  If you are unsure whether your picture or video is inappropriate, don’t post it.

    • Q: Harassment and Hate Speech
      A:  We respect your right to speak your ideas freely.  However, we draw the line when it comes to harassment and hate speech.  Your comments are not okay if they are meant to harm someone else personally, or if they promote hatred against a people because of their race, religion, or gender.

    • Q: Offensive Material
      A:  JChoice is meant to be a friendly environment for all ages and types of people.  Don’t post photos, videos, or comments with violent or disgusting content that may offend others, and don’t use swear words in your posts.

    • Q: Spam
      A:  Posting multiple identical or meaningless comments clutters up our pages and makes JChoice less enjoyable for the rest of the community.  Please help keep JChoice clean by posting content that is meaningful and to the point.

    • Q: Copyright
      A:  Don’t post photos or videos on JChoice unless you created them or you have permission from the creator.  If you are referencing someone’s statement in a comment, be sure to use quotation marks and cite who made the statement.

    • Q: JChoice Removal Policy
      A:  JChoice reserves the right to remove any posts we deem inappropriate without advanced notice. This includes photos, videos, and comments. We also will not hesitate to suspend or ban accounts permanently if the offence is great enough. If your content has been removed and you are not sure why, feel free to email us at info@jchoice.org.

    • Q: How to Submit Video to JChoice
      A:  Video Production Tips from JChoice

      Length of Submission: Please keep your video under 3 minutes in length.

      Content: Make sure you keep the video appropriate. No “dirty” language. Make sure you don’t show or say something that you wouldn’t want to share on the internet.

      Equipment you need:
      A digital video camera. Quality footage is important so try to use the best camera available, but any camera will work because the content is what matters most. Use a cellphone, ipod, still camera, flip camera or webcam.

      Equipment to make your video stand out.
      •    External Microphone 
      •    Tripod/Steady pair of hands
      •    Computer with editing software and access to the internet

      Setting up:
      Camera:
      •    Holding the Camera: Steadiness is key! No one wants to watch shaky video.  If you have a tripod, use it.  Otherwise, insert one hand into the camera strap, and use the other hand open-palmed to support and steady the bottom of the camera. (Lock both arms to your body to brace the shot.)

      •    White balance: Some cameras have this feature which helps to make sure your video doesn’t turn-out too orange or too blue due to the lighting. Once you’ve located the white balance feature, focus the camera on something as pure white as possible. (printer paper should do fine) and set it.

      •    Framing: Make sure that you aren’t cutting-off your subject. Think about what is in the background. You don’t want distractions such as bright windows or other people moving around.

      Audio: If you have a microphone, use it. External mics are always better than built-in camera mics. Auto audio levels usually work okay. Ideally, you will control the audio levels manually, setting them so your voice is around  -12dB.  Settings can usually be found in the cameras menu system. Find a spot that is quiet so that you don’t pickup the sound of other people, music/tv, or cars.

      Lighting:
      Most people don’t have professional video lights so try to use existing sources. The key is that your subject is well exposed. No one wants to watch a dark grainy video. Watch out for shadows.

      Editing: Editing your video can be the most fun as part of the process. This is your chance to add music, tighten your scenes, and let your movie truly shine! Adding titles/credits and transitions between shots can make your movie look and feel like the pros!

      •    Software: Every new MAC comes with iMovie. This is a basic editing tool that can be a great help. For PCs, you can download Movie Maker for free at: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/moviemaker2.mspx
      (Other software, although costing money, includes: Final Cut pro, Avid, Adobe Premier, etc.)
      •    Edit tutorials:
      o    iMovie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_sZ4AeT8a4
      o    Windows Movie Maker http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOE-Sx9QvYA&feature=related


      Upload video to YouTube: The last step is to upload your movie to YouTube (watch a tutorial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w-gQAwS2uc&feature=related
      ). At that point, copy and paste the YouTube link into JChoice

      Above all, have fun!


       

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