Investments that Matter
The story of Ray Gary and iDonate

Three years ago Ray Gary entered the Halftime Institute in Dallas and introduced himself with a simple statement: “Hello, my name is Ray Gary. I spent the last 26 years of my life making a lot of money while almost exclusively focusing on things that really didn’t matter. I have a passion to do something of significance, and I have no idea what that is.”

Ray has a history as an early-stage entrepreneur with technology start-ups. He has been involved with a handful of companies going public, and has grown others to profitability. When Bill High, President of the National Christian Foundation (NCF) Heartland, approached Ray with the idea of taking a small concept, iDonate, and exploring the possibility of turning it into a business, he was intrigued.

What was iDonate? About 10 years ago, Bill discovered his NCF office could serve local nonprofits by helping them liquidate cars, inventory, electronics, and the like. These organizations, like many others, had been given gifts they weren’t equipped to process; so Bill chose to help them, on a one-off basis, with the liquidation process.

This invitation by Bill set Ray on a quest to determine the viability of launching iDonate for the masses. Ray did more than 60 interviews with leaders of churches and nonprofit organizations. He discovered that there were churches with jewelry, silver service sets, watches, and other valuables sitting in their safes because the church staff had no idea what to do with them. He also discovered:

  • According to the IRS, there is $30 billion a year in-kind gifts given to nonprofit organizations, yet less than 10 percent of those gifts are going to faith-based organizations.
  • The top 20 charitable organizations asking for automobiles in 2010 received S121 million in liquidated value, yet none of these organizations are faith-based.
  • There is an estimated $40 billion in stranded value on gift cards in America, and this number continues to grow at a rate of $2 billion per year.
  • According to a recent article, there are $9 billion in retired iPhones sitting in people’s junk drawers across the U.S. And when you add other electronics, there are $34 billion of electronics collecting dust.

Ray realized that if iDonate was successful in moving an additional one percent of this $30 billion to kingdom causes that would equate to approximately $300 million per year. In 10 years that could free up $3 billion dollars for organizations long on vision yet short on cash!

Today, iDonate helps organizations request and process 20 different donation types including cash, e-Checks, cars, electronics, major gifts, business inventory, commodities, real estate, and gift cards. When Ray chose to pour himself into iDonate, he made an eternal investment allowing others to invest their possessions as well.  Recently, I was reflecting on the parable of the rich farmer found in Luke 12:16-21:

“And He told them this parable: The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

We may not be farmers building bigger barns, but most Americans can’t park in their garages because of so much stuff. People are in need, yet one in 10 of us has a rental storage unit at a collective cost of S21 billion a year. It just doesn’t add up.
Recently we saw a farmer give $306.000 worth of corn. This gift was processed through the iDonate application, and deposited into his NCF donor-advised fund. He is now giving these resources to his favorite charitable organizations. How will you invest?

GREG MURTHA is the Executive Vice-President of Strategic Relationships & Business Development at iDonate. He has a passion for life, a legendary Rolodex and an aptitude for making connections.
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