Kate Glantz, cofounder and CEO, Heartful.ly
Founded on the belief that life's most important moments are the best times to give back, Heartful.ly is an online donation platform empowering generous people to celebrate in a more meaningful way.
Launched as a wedding registry in December 2015, Heartful.ly couples have positively impacted the lives of over 30,000 people around the world. Heartful.ly has evolved to serve all of life's milestones with a current focus on weddings, birthdays and the winter holidays.
What made you want to start Heartful.ly?
The idea first came to me when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania. My friends were living their fabulous 20-something lives in the U.S. and I was trying to fund a toilet construction project at school so our kids had a sanitary place to do their biz. Unsurprisingly, there was a constant sense of whiplash from straddling these two worlds. Ironically, it was browsing a friend’s wedding registry that gave me the idea to fundraise for toilets like they were cool gifts. Instead of asking for general donations, I let people know 20 bucks was a bag of cement or $5 was a pound of nails. Framing it like that resonated immediately and the project was funded in three days. I remember thinking, “Wow. There is something bigger here.” But then I went back to being 22 living in a village with no electricity or running water or gasp--internet--and the idea took a back seat.
It wasn’t until my late 20s, after years in international development and moonlighting as a “professional” wedding guest, that I couldn’t in good conscience buy another set of sushi plates off a registry without creating a more meaningful alternative. There were no solutions in the market that lived up to my expectations of a charitable registry so I said what the hell, I’ll do it myself.
What is the one thing you wish more people knew about charitable giving?
So often charitable giving is associated with emergencies, friends running a marathon, or Santa jingling his bell in front of CVS. My mission, and the reason I founded Heartful.ly, is to get people thinking about giving back when times are good for them! I think there’s something beautiful in celebrating a Big Life Moment with your community and then channeling some of those good vibes to help others who need it. Also, giving back doesn’t have to mean getting less. Strike whatever balance is right for you.
Any tips for tax write offs?
Charitable donations--both cash or in-kind (furniture, clothing, etc), can typically be used to reduce your taxes. That said, make sure you have proper documentation. What I recently learned, is that it’s not a dollar-for-dollar deduction. Borrowing from Charity Navigator because this shit is confusing:
If the gifts are deductible, the actual cost of the donation is reduced by your tax savings. For example, if you are in the 33% tax bracket, the actual cost of a $100 donation is only $67 ($100 less the $33 tax savings). As your income tax bracket increases, the real cost of your charitable gift decreases, making contributions more attractive for those in higher brackets. The actual cost to a person in the lowest bracket, 15%, for a $100 contribution is $85. For a person in the highest bracket, 35%, the actual cost is only $65. Not only can the wealthy afford to give more, but they receive a larger reward for giving.
Can you talk about what it means to be a founder and what you wish someone had told you before you started the company?
Oh yah. Shit gets real--really fast. There’s a perception of startup life as being very sexy. Cool gadgets and open bar ragers and big money and DISRUPTION. That’s all true to some extent, but the reality? I spend about 16 hours a day hunched over my computer binge eating Wheat Thins, mainlining coffee, and doing boring, but necessary admin. I rent my apartment on Airbnb and sleep at my office sometimes to make rent. I eat rice and beans a lot. I do what it takes. There are certainly moments of sheer euphoria--when you get a major donation or a great press hit or a ton of new users in a short period of time. But mostly, it’s just me and my co-founder in some scraggly ass pjs building brick-by-brick, day-by-day. I tell people my company is like a baby, puppy, and boyfriend all rolled into one. It can drive you crazy, piss on the carpet, and keep you up at night, but you love it madly anyway. (Hmm, maybe boyfriend isn’t the best analogy.)
I would tell someone that they should be certain they are obsessed with what they want to create and are willing to do whatever it takes--be it uncomfortable, embarrassing, financially draining--to make it happen. If you feel “meh” on Day One, it’s not gonna work out.
Why do we need to support female health and wellness charities now more than ever?
Dear lord, this election cycle has shaken me to my core. I was one of those righteous liberals living in my ivory tower thinking there’s no way America would not ultimately side with her. I am awake now and I’m so sorry that I wasn’t fully activated and attuned to the hate, ignorance, and seemingly pervasive disinterest in our fundamental human rights.
If there is any silver lining to this dumpster fire of a year, it’s that we must advocate--for ourselves, for each other, and for our democracy. That includes donating to and volunteering with nonprofits that work day in and out to ensure women have a voice and access to healthcare. Because, duh. It also means that we as women need to commit to taking a bigger stake in politics, policy, and the media. Stay nasty, ladies.