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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at IUP chapter.

Ladies, welcome to the future, where Oreos come in every flavor, shape, and amount of stuffing and raising money is fun, easy, and totally compatible with social media. In the past, students, soon-to-be-married couples, and organizations have found it difficult to raise funds for a number of reasons. For one, bake sales and physical merchandise stands only reach the people who see it, not the whole constituency of people who would want to support the organization, but can’t make it to the physical location. Second, websites that have “Donate Here” buttons are often unconvincing, stagnant, and not easily shared on various social media sites.  Also, no one’s had fun. Neither the people putting the fundraiser together nor the people who guiltily pull out money for a vague, nebulous goal enjoy the awkward exchange of money in those circumstances.

Deposit a Gift fixes all those problems, easy peasy. Dana Ostomel, the founder and CEO of this crowdfunding website, even wishes that the website existed when she was in college looking for people to donate money to her “study abroad” fund. Deposit a Gift allows users looking to levy funds for anything from college supplies to new home furnishings to money for team jerseys to set up a giving fund for specific items and allow their friends, family, and other supporters to donate money for very exact needs. Instead of just giving money or gift cards or bad mauve vases, people can give money to precisely what the student, couple, or team needs. It’s fun, creative, interactive, and, most importantly, in this age of hyper-connectivity, compatible with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other popular networking sites. And because it’s fun, people want to share it on their networks and encourage their friends to give as well.

Ostomel believes that running a website like this is best done in a read-and-react fashion in terms of customer service and products offered. As an entrepreneur herself, Ostomel has had a lot of experience on both sides of the supplier-consumer experience. A 1999 alumna of UCLA with an undergraduate degree in communications and an award for a Toyota campaign, Ostomel left the United States for Spain to make a name for herself in the world. Those who knew and loved her wanted to give her money and things to wish her well, but money was difficult to keep track of and physical things couldn’t travel well with her and couldn’t be shipped. While in Spain, Ostomel started a small English teaching business, through which she connected with a student who provided her with an unpaid internship at a software company. Upon her return to the US, she promptly moved to NYC to look for a job. She landed a gig at a startup company that utilized her language skills. Her last job before starting Deposit a Gift was as a “business advertising manager” for Cadbury Schwartz, which made Snapple and other non-carbonated drinks. When the economy tanked in 2007, Ostomel found herself caught up in a wave of layoffs, and that’s when Deposit a Gift finally took wings.

Initially, the company was little more than a cash gift registry for special events, but after just a year, Ostomel and her team found that patrons were using it for fundraising as well. In an effort to make the delicate art of asking others for money less uncomfortable, Ostomel veered her product away from a registry alone into a crowd-funding site which leverages social networks and helps people form a deeper tie to the cause to which they’re giving. Deposit a Gift allows the asker to design a unique site and list of needs and then allows the givers to donate something tangible and specific. Deposit a Gift also allows for multimedia (videos, pictures, etc.) and other methods of personalization to rescue the person from an obsequious string of emails to family and friends asking for money. Even in her business approach to advertising, Ostomel stresses the importance of old-fashioned interpersonal relationships in such a digitized age. Every time someone takes the time to set up a registry on Deposit a Gift, Ostomel herself sends that person a handwritten postcard thanking them for their time and business. She and her team take the feedback they receive from their customers very seriously and encourage open communication with their users so Deposit a Gift can truly meet their needs.

Ms. Ostomel offers advice on two fronts to our loyal readers of Her Campus. In terms of raising money for any reason, event, or occasion, Ostomel suggests that people make the enterprise more original and personal with Donate a Gift, which truly encourages the constituency to meet the needs of the person to whom they are donating. Also, in terms of entrepreneurship, Ostomel urges girls to do what they love and find some way to combine their talents and traits into a marketable resume. To her, perhaps the most useful trait to exhibit in interviews is coachability, that is, the ability to take direction and adapt to new situations and take advice. So, ladies, take advantage of all the lovely internet tools at your disposal, both the adorable kittens everywhere as well as the sites like Deposit a Gift.

Sometimes I make sense. Other times, I make bacon egg and cheese bagel sandwiches. I’m an English writing major at IUP now. Maybe I’ll get a real job someday, or maybe I’ll furiously write short stories during my future children’s nap time while laundry is in the dryer. I’m also a night blogger, a grammar guru, a sucker for classic literature, a biker, a fencer, a bagel addict, and a super awesome coffee maker. I’ve divided my books into piles based on the kind of mood I want to savor. I’ve won a few writing awards. I hope to win a few more. Then maybe someone will pay me to write cool stuff like that someday. Movie posters as book covers make me weep both internally and externally. I love my indie bookstore dearly. I think that’s all I have to say. Long live the Oxford comma.
I am currently an English Education student with a Spanish minor at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  I work as a Community Assistant in one of the residence halls and volunteer as a tutor for students learning English as a second language.  My dream job is that of a secondary bilingual education teacher.  Some of my favorite past times include watching movies, drinking coffee, reading, and hanging out with my friends here at IUP.I am also the president of Her Campus IUP.  The opportunity to work with the talented writers, photographers, and designers that I do makes the position enjoyable and rewarding.  We work as a team to bring readers the best possible articles and events.