Share A Gift: Pool-In with a Kickstarter for Gifts

My friend Savio has been eyeing the top-of-the-line iPad Mini ever since it was launched, and with the holidays coming up, I thought it would be a nice gift for him. Unfortunately, Christmas means having to buy presents for everyone, so the amount one can afford to spend per person tends to go down a bit. It was a disheartening thought because I know how much Savio wanted that iPad Mini.

But Savio’s a great guy and everybody loves him. You know the type? He seems to make friends anywhere he goes and because he’ll go the extra mile for you, you feel like doing more for him. Well, I decided to tap into the goodwill Savio’s earned to get him that gift he wanted.

Share A Gift is a fantastic site that is, essentially, a Kickstarter for gifts! You can invite people to contribute to a gift and collect all that money to buy that much-wanted item. Here’s how it works…

Works Worldwide, But PayPal Needed

Sign up for Share A Gift by creating a new account or logging in with your existing Facebook one. The latter works out better since you can invite friends more easily that way to contribute to the gift.

The one thing you will need to start a gift page is a PayPal account. Now, a lot of people aren’t very happy with PayPal, but I’m actually quite glad that Share A Gift uses it as the default, and only, payment receipt system. The advantage of using PayPal is that the app is immediately open to anyone in the world, and you don’t need a US/UK bank account, as is the case with some other such sites. The downside is that PayPal will deduct a small percentage of your total amount when you go to withdraw the money, so be prepared for that slight pinch.

Your contributors, however, are free to send in their money with a Debit Card, Credit Card or PayPal. I tried out the service with an American Express credit card, an Indian MasterCard credit card and a British Visa debit card. All three worked smoothly and the money reflected in my PayPal in a few minutes.

And really, that’s the crux of a service like Share A Gift. We don’t all live in the same city any more, and then of course there’s the fact that digital transactions are just so much easier to do. So the fact that the app works flawlessly regardless of where you are makes it so much simpler to send out invitations to people to contribute to your cause.

Simple and Straightforward

The other endearing aspect of Share A Gift is how easy it is, whether you are creating a new gift page or contributing to an existing one.

Creating a gift is a straightforward three-step process. First, choose the recipient, either by typing the name or picking among your Facebook friends. Add a photo, the occasion, set a deadline for contributions, and specify your relationship with that person.

Next, give a few details about the gift you want everyone to chip in for. The money is the prime aspect, and currently, Share A Gift supports three currencies only—American Dollar, British Pound and Euro. Name the gift, upload a photo if you have one, and paste a link to the gift’s website, if available.

Finally, it’s time to share it with your friends.

Sharing the idea

When you want to tell others about the project, it would obviously be helpful to take advantage of the message box and type out a custom message so that people don’t just junk it, or feel like it’s a really complicated process. It’s also helpful to explain that it won’t take more than five minutes from start to end to finish the whole procedure.

Tip: Send a nominal amount to the project yourself. No one wants to be the first to contribute, so set the standard.

There are plenty of options to invite friends to contribute. You can link up your Facebook friends, invite contacts from address books stores on services like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, etc. You can even manually key in names and email addresses to send invites.

For me, this was the part of this web app that ended up being the real winner. When I chanced upon Share A Gift the first time, the idea was great, but my first thought was, “Hey, if I end up inviting friends to chip in, wouldn’t that ruin the surprise since it’ll be on my Facebook wall or other public places? And I don’t want my friends to know who else is invited to chip in, it should be private.”

Well, both my worries were taken care of. First, you can choose to make the invitee list private so that others can’t see it. Second, there’s a Facebook ‘Send’ button that lets you privately share the gift page such that it won’t be posted on your wall. Then, of course, there’s also a custom URL that you can share with anyone.

Contributing and Refunding

Once people start contributing, you can easily keep a track of the goal amount and where you’ve reached through the project’s page. And yes, it can be customized at any time.

At any point, you are free to increase or decrease the amount.

 

If you don’t reach your target amount, you can still withdraw whatever money has been contributed till that point to buy a less expensive gift, or you can refund the amount to everyone who had pooled in.

Once the target has been met, people cannot contribute to the event any more. However, if the last contribution exceeds your target amount, that can still be withdrawn.

Final Thoughts

Share A Gift did exactly what it promised – helped me make a gift page for a friend where anyone could contribute, easily and efficiently.

Perhaps its only down side is that it still lacks a few payment options, such as transferring money through net banking or putting up a bank account to collect transactions; but really, these are minor quibbles since the current options are quite universal in nature.


Summary

Share A Gift lets you pool in money with your friends to buy someone a present; a Kickstarter for gifts, if you will!

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