A growing trend among brides-to-be, cash gifting websites are a sleek and modern alternative to old-fashioned department store registries. But as Dana Ostomel points out, her website DepositaGift.com goes above and beyond to not only host cash-gifting opportunities for any and every life event, it makes the process fun and personal, too! Keep reading to find out why she started her company, how DepositaGift.com is different and what’s next for this fast-growing website.
I wanted to simplify and modernize gift giving. Little has changed about registries since they were first introduced in the early 1900s, but the way we live has changed significantly. People today need flexibility and cash gives them just that. There are no returns, no space constraints. People can spend the money where they want, when they want.
The idea came to me years before I got married, sitting in my tiny apartment with a variety of weddings to attend in the near future. I wondered how anyone could store so many presents and even if they could, how they had the time to accept, unwrap, return (often), track and use them all. It seemed like a second job. Plus, I just instinctively knew that a lot of people out there didn’t want more “stuff.” But since it’s taboo to ask for cash, I came up with a way to do so via the socially accepted format of a gift registry.
I let the idea percolate for a couple of years, experienced my own 2008 wedding and then went for it. My goal was to simplify the registry process, not just for weddings, but for any gifting event: babies, birthdays, fundraisers, etc. During our wedding, I heard comments from people like “All the good gifts were gone, so we didn’t know what to get you,” or “We saw you like that brand but the bowl was gone already so we got you something else they make.” Deposit a Gift eliminates that, plus gift-givers can contribute to a trip, a home down payment or a new baby’s college fund if that is what the user desires.
Our service is meant to help people get exactly what they want, when they want it, while still being fun and sentimental for guests—a fresh, personal and interactive way to say cash would be the perfect gift. And so Deposit a Gift, the next-generation gift registry, was born.
How does your website differ from the other cash gifting sites out there?
The big gap that I saw in the market was the need for a service that offered a premium experience for both users and gift-givers as well as one that offered total flexibility. We are the only cash gifting site that is for any life event, for any type of gift and that can be driven by the gift-recipient (as with a traditional registry) or by a third party (à la a group gift). Other sites either focus only on one life event (wedding) or only one type of gift (travel or home). We offer limitless possibilities so that users can write their own narrative and customize a registry that reflects their personal story and needs. We also have a free custom site to host the event details so it truly is a one-stop shop.
Our registry interface was built to look, feel and function like a traditional registry so that the shopping experience is easy and familiar for gift-givers. It’s an opportunity to build a gift list of specifics, versus letting guests donate to a ‘fund,’ which we find doesn’t work as well. Gift-givers don’t want to donate to your celebration, they want to give you a gift!
In addition to a really simple interface, I think our online tools and customer service sets us apart by adding a personal touch and really keeps people coming back again and again.
Gift-giving through a website may seem impersonal to someone who’s never done it before. How do you keep the personal sentiment alive on your site?
I actually find that a lot of gift-givers like the convenience of shopping online because it saves them time. Many of them have been doing it for years with traditional department store registries so this is just an extension of that behavior. What gift-givers often comment on about our service over shopping at a traditional registry is that this is actually a lot more personal and fun than picking out plates or sheets.
Imagine getting to help plan the trip of a lifetime for your friend by contributing to their airfare or an exotic excursion? The personal aspect really comes into play because the users share their story on their registry page with lots of detail around why this type of gift would be so special and meaningful to them. For users struggling with how to communicate this, we offer pre-written notes for inspiration and we also offer over 50 pre-made registry lists to make personalized set-up a snap.
What do you think can be the most overwhelming aspect of receiving gifts on a special day, and how does your site remedy that?
Although it’s so lovely that friends and family want to shower you with gifts for weddings, babies and birthdays, it can be super-overwhelming to have so much “stuff” come into your house at once (not to mention having to make so many big decisions if you just aren’t ready or don’t have the space). And with weddings and babies in particular, this often happens over many months, turning your home into a warehouse where you have to take inventory of your gifts. Much to many people’s dismay, by the time they do find time to sit down and sort through their piles, so much time has passed that they don’t have many options when items are missing or broken.
Deposit a Gift simplifies the gifting process for everyone because everything is handled virtually. Gifts are purchased online and ‘delivered’ via email. Users have a Gift Manager chart where they keep track of their gifts (there’s even a built-in Thank you Note tracker). When they are ready to receive their gifts, they do so via free direct deposit, personal check or gift card.
What’s the most unique thing someone has asked for on your site?
1. Fundraising for a sick friend
2. Costco membership
3. A bed: all they want is a good night’s sleep—they called it “Project Mattress”
4. Upright Citizens Brigade improv comedy lessons
5. Adoption assistance fund as a wedding gift to start their family since it is a long process
6. Moving van and boxes
7. Die Zeit Subscription—a weekly German paper
8. ESL Certification
9. Portuguese language course to learn the native tongue of their beloved
10. Air purifier to fight allergies
Looking into the future, what’s the next step for you and Deposit a Gift?
I’m really excited about how quickly Deposit a Gift has grown since we launched in early 2010. We are becoming the go-to resource for people to request/receive cash gifts online and my hope is to continue that success of simplifying people’s lives. I think we are building a solid reputation around the type of care and support we offer our users, which I’m really proud of since customer service is such an integral part of our business.
One of the best parts of my day is working personally with our users to help bring their vision to life. I hope to be able to continue to do that as we grow and expand the company.
Girl Talk Time: What do you think of Deposit a Gift? Would you ever use this website for your wedding or any other life event?