June 18, 2012 | last updated June 18, 2012 4:14 pm
Nonprofit notebook

Guilt Trip

PHOTO / AL FERREIRA

Senior class gift

This year's graduating class at Trinity colelge present a gift of $33,138 to President James F. Jones Jr. and Trustee Alexander Levi. This marks the seventh consecutive year senior-class giving at Trinity has topped 90 percent participation. Pictured are, from left, committee members Mary Morr; Will Yale; President Jones; Nicole Lustig; Lizey Korgengold; Sophie Goodwin; and Trustee Levi.

Guilt can be a driving force behind many of life's decisions — from apologies to confessions to crash diets. But Stacey Dyer, co-founder of Middletown-based Triple Frog, a multi-platform ad agency, is using guilt to drive something else: charitable giving.

Guilty for Good, a website that launched in April, is designed, says Dyer, to make charitable giving easy, accessible and fun.

"When a lot of people think about 'philanthropy', they think of large contributions," Dyer said. "But smaller donations of, say, $5 can add up and make a difference."

And while the collective difference small gifts can make may be serious, the reason for giving them, says Dyer, doesn't have to be. "We want people to have fun with their giving through Guilty for Good," she explained. To underscore that point, the site features two cartoon characters — a marshmallow and a cat — to represent both guilt and good.

"We want people to take some silly things they feel guilty about — like not eating some Thanksgiving food your great aunt made especially for you — and turning it into something positive," Dyer said. "It's sort of like earning karma points."

Although nonprofits aren't necessarily looking for karma these days, they are looking for every opportunity to raise awareness and, Guilty for Good is — for some — another touch point with potential volunteers or donors.

That's what attracted Claire Rusowicz, executive director of the Rockfall Foundation, a Middletown-based environmental organization, to participate. Her agency was the featured nonprofit on the site during the month of April.

"Guilty for Good is a fun way to reach new audiences, particularly younger folks," she said.

And the strategy, says Rusowicz, has helped generate greater interest in her organization's mission. In fact, more than 150 people visited Guilty for Good in April, which was promoted through email blasts and social media. "We've received a number of request to be added to our mailing list," said Rusowicz.

She's even seen a donation. "For us, this venture was more about awareness; any money we bring in is icing on the cake."

While the site's featured organizations, to date, have been Middletown-based, Dyer says nonprofits throughout the state are eligible to participate — and at no cost.

Dyer explained that each month — as new nonprofits are featured — the site gets tweaked to align the guilt with the nonprofit's mission. "If we were highlighting a farmers market, for example" she said, "the guilt might be food related."

Ultimately, Dyer sees an opportunity for national organizations or causes to use the Guilty for Good concept and have some fun with their campaigns.

"I think nonprofits can show a sense of humor, too, which can change people's perceptions in a good way," said Dyer.

And there's no reason to feel guilty about that.

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