GET STARTED SOWING
What is iSow?
The definition of the word iSow is: “to plant seeds; to disperse seeds.”
iSow is a platform that lets young people save for important goals in their lives by “planting seeds” for their futures, but also “dispersing seeds” to help others with their futures.
What does it mean to “iSow”?
“Sowing” means saving for things that are important to your life in 3 key categories: Saving (for the future), Sharing (with others or via causes that you care about) and Spending (stuff I wish I had.) These categories are identified as your Savings, your Causes, and your Wishes on the site.
How do I start Sowing?
It’s So(w) simple.
1. Set up a iSow profile. It’s free.
2. Decide what you want to iSow for in each (or all!) of the 3 categories that iSow offers (Saving, Sharing and Spending.)
3. On birthdays, holidays, special occasions, or just a random Tuesday, tell the world what goals you’re Sowing via Facebook, Twitter, email, Paperless Post or Evite invitations.
4. Include your personalized iSow profile link and ask people to support your goals in lieu of buying you gifts!
How do I tell people that I am Sowing?
On your birthday or holidays, send out a message via facebook, twitter, or email asking people to check out your iSow profile and support your goals in lieu of buying you gifts.
You can also cut and paste your personalized iSow profile link (it’s on your profile page!) into an Evite or Paperless Post invitation.
Even if you’re not celebrating the birth of a new baby, your bar mitzvah, your birthday, or graduation, you can share with the world the cool goals that you are Sowing…those who are in your circle want to know what you are up to and into year ‘round!
I'm a parent. Do I need to set up a separate iSow profile for my kids?
If your kids are 13 or over, they can have a iSow profile independent of yours. If your kids are younger than 13, you can set up a profile for yourself and select "add a kid" to add one or more of your children.
Can I keep my iSow profile private?
Yes. If you designate your profile – or your child’s profile – as private in Settings, only people whom you invite to see your iSow profile will be able to view it.
What is a “seed”?
A seed is a goal that you launch. When you plant a “seed”, you can watch it grow as your family, friends, and networks support your goals.
How many seeds can I plant at one time?
You can iSow any number of seeds at one time: 1, 5, 10 or more!
Do I have to create goals in each category: Save, Share, and Spend, or can I open only one type of project?
Although you don't have to open a goal in each category (Saving, Sharing and Spending), the purpose of iSow is to make gift-giving both easier and more meaningful. So while you can ask people to support only goals in the "Spending" category, we think it's much better if you iSow for Savings and Sharing goals as well. And we think your friends, family, and other potential donors will think so too.
RECEIVING MONEY TO SUPPORT iSOW GOALS
Do I need to have a Paypal account?
If you are a Sower (that means you are setting up a iSow profile and establishing goals that you’d like others to support with monetary gifts), you do need a Paypal account in order to collect the money given to you. But don’t worry…it’s easy to set up!
If you are giving a gift of money to support a Sower, you do not need a PayPal account and can use a credit card for your payment.
How do I receive money via iSow?
As soon as someone gives to your iSow goals, the money is transmitted into your PayPal account. PayPal enables you to use that money for online purchases (e.g. your wish for a new camera) or transfer money to a checking account for offline spending (e.g. to give Save the Children a donation or put money into your 529 College Savings Account.)
iSow will keep track of how much money should be allocated to each of the goals that you established.
Who is responsible for completing a project goal as promised?
If you are a Sower, you are responsible for living up to your promises and allocating your iSow donations to the savings, causes, and wishes that you asked people to support.
Does my entire goal need to get funded before I receive the money that people contribute?
No. Some goals – like saving for college – might never get 100% funded, but the collective community support will give you a significant head start in reaching your goals. We think these "votes of confidence" are just as important in helping a young person to achieve their dreams.
What happens if I don’t reach my goal? Do I have to give the money back?
You do not have to give the iSow gifts back if you don’t reach your goal. You should instead use that money as a launching pad to help you fund your goal in other ways.
You might be lucky enough to get enough iSow contributions to fund a portion of your college savings or half of your wish for a new camera. If the monetary gifts that people give you don’t quite add up to the amount that you need, you can always reach your goals by working to earn extra cash, creating an entrepreneurial venture, or saving up your own money to close the gap.
iSow believes that your goals should be supported by others, but fueled by you.
I am a parent. Does my child need a separate PayPal Account in order to use iSow?
No. The money contributed to your child can go directly into your PayPal account, and you can distribute it to your child and their causes accordingly. iSow will keep track of how much money was given to each of your child's goals to make it easier for you. If you want to set up separate PayPal accounts for your children, however, you can.
If I’m Sowing for a Cause (Sharing with Others), will iSow play any role in delivering the funds to the cause that I’ve selected?
No. Since iSow doesn’t have a direct way to transfer money to every charitable organization in the world, iSow will count on the Sower to send the funds to that organization when they collect money that is intended for that Cause.
Will iSow suggest organizations that I can support for my Cause projects?
Yes! iSow has identified a broad set of organizations that focus on everything from science to technology to dance to art to children’s health. If you are looking for ideas for Causes to support, we think you will find at least one organization that speaks to your interests and passions.
Can I submit myself for consideration for Sowers We Love?
Yes! If you’d like to be a featured Sower, we’d love to feature you! Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your iSow username and we’ll get you into the rotation as a Sower we love.
Is the money that I receive via iSow earning interest?
No. It goes directly into your PayPal Account. But stay tuned for more features from iSow soon.
GIVING GIFTS OF MONEY TO GOALS THAT MATTER
How do I give money to a iSow user?
Just click “Help me iSow Now” on the person’s profile and you can decide to give to one goal that they are sowing or spread your gift across several goals.
Do I have to contribute to a specific goal? Can I just give money to the Sower and let him/her allocate the money however he/she wants?
You can choose to give one lump sum and let the Sower allocate the money across his/her goals, or you can decide how you would like the money distributed among several goals when you give.
What payment mechanism can I use to contribute money?
If you have a PayPal Account, you can pay using your account. If not, you can still use Paypal to process payment via a credit card. Although you will still use the PayPal processing system via iSow for credit card processing, you do not need a PayPal account.
Can I make my donation private?
Yes, you can. When you designate how much money you want to give to a person’s goals, iSow will ask you if you would like to make your donation private.
What if I want to help someone I don't know via iSow?
You can! Just go to the "explore" page and search using the keywords that describe what kinds of goals you are interested in supporting - "college fund" will show young people sowing for college, "University of Michigan" will show U of M Students and the projects they are sowing, "Haiti" will show people sowing for Haiti, and sow on and sow on and sow on...
Does iSow notify donors when a goal is met?
When you give to another person’s iSow profile, you can either give without registering or you can start a iSow profile for yourself. If you open your own iSow profile, you will get updates about all of the Sowers you support – notes when their goals are complete, pictures of their wishes, videos chronicling their journeys, thank you’s to those who supported them, and more.
Does iSow charge a fee?
Yes. iSow charges a 5% transaction fee for all transactions that are processed via iSow, and PayPal charges 2.9% of the transaction amount plus $.30. This fee helps iSow keep the lights on and the workers behind iSow working, and enables us to spread the mission of iSow — to save, share, and spend responsibly — to young people all throughout the world. Plus, 10% of iSow's transaction fees are donated to a different charity that focuses on children every month.
Does iSow issue refunds?
iSow doesn’t hold onto the money that passes through the site because it’s processed via PayPal and deposited directly into the Sower’s PayPal Account. As a result, we can’t give you back money that you’ve contributed any more than you can peel that birthday card with $30 out of little Jack’s hands the day after his birthday party.
What about taxes and stuff?
We’re no tax experts, but here’s what we do know (because we read it on irs.gov):
In general, users may be able to classify money received via iSow as a nontaxable gift, and not income.
Generally, the following gifts are considered nontaxable:
1. Gifts that are not more than the annual exclusion for the calendar year (that’s a whopping $14K for 2015)
2. Tuition or medical expenses you pay for someone In terms of the giver’s taxes, iSow is not classified as a charitable organization, so the money that gift-givers donate via iSow does not fall under charitable giving guidelines (even though the person who receives the contribution to their “cause” will pass that donation along to a worthy organization).
If you need more info on taxation and gifts, please check out irs.gov or talk to a tax advisor.
How do supporters know if a Sower will follow through on a project?
If you sign up for a iSow account when you are donating money to someone else’s iSow profile, you will find out about updates to their iSow goals via your own iSow profile page. You will receive notifications when Sowers update their goals so you can see their photos, videos, stories and excitement as they complete their project.