The Frisch School in Paramus closed on March 3, after learning that some of its students had been exposed to the coronavirus. That made it the first school in New Jersey to shut its doors.
That left seniors Morgan Lazarus of Englewood and Noah Schultz of Fair Lawn with some time on their hands.
“We found ourselves with an academic year abruptly cut short, spring internships cancelled, and summer plans in question,” Morgan said. “We needed to do something to create our own ‘internship’ experience as an alternative.
“Noah and I were eager to focus our efforts towards doing good for the greater community in light of a rapidly unraveling covid-19 situation. We are both passionate about putting our best foot forward to do what we can to help our community. With both of us having a background and interests in marketing and software, we decided to find a way to use technology to give back to non-profits that were struggling from the implications of the pandemic.”
They put their heads together and created CardUP (getcardup.com), an automated service that helps organizations raise funds during a difficult time of closed offices, diminished staffing, and diminished donations.
“In a nutshell, CardUP provides a simple, elegant platform that automates the traditional tribute card revenue model,” Morgan said. “We handle the card creation, distribution, billing, tax receipts and more on our platform — with the simple goal of generating donation revenue that non-profits would not otherwise have had and getting it straight to the organization.
“Our software allows donors to customize and personalize cards, sent via two digital delivery methods, and make a donation online. The platform alleviates internal work for shuls and non-profit offices with limited office support.”
The seeds for the initiative were planted last May, when Noah — who has run an eponymously named marketing agency throughout his high school years — conceived of automated donation cards as a solution for one of his clients, Zahal Shalom, a small non-profit organization for wounded IDF veterans.
“We were looking for new ways to expand our fundraising potential sustainably,” Zahal Shalom’s vice president, Tali Blum, said. “CardUP brings us an entirely new source of revenue and its platform runs itself so we can focus more on what we do.”
“Fast forward to the covid-19 pandemic, and every organization is in the same place of not having resources and office staff,” Noah said. “I spoke to Morgan, and we decided to take this really great product and scale it up to help our communities.”
The enterprising young co-founders — Noah is chief executive officer and Morgan is chief operating officer — gave their initiative a name that conveys the card idea and the hopeful concept of moving in an upward direction.
They have recruited and trained 16 Frisch classmates to do sales, marketing, and product development. The team contacts local, national, and international non-profits and explains how CardUP can benefit their organizations.
“They’re getting the internship experience they were anticipating along with the value of reaching out to the community,” Noah said. “We are now actively talking to and providing demos to over 400 organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. It grows by the day.”
CardUP is free for non-profits struggling in the covid crisis; Kehillat Kesher Community Synagogue of Tenafly & Englewood is one of its local clients.
“Jewish organizations are our focus now, but we want to help anyone in any community who needs it,” Morgan said.
The completely student-led initiative takes up about five hours a day for its co-founders. They do have other responsibilities to attend to, such as studying for and taking AP exams this month.
Morgan said his experiences at Frisch contributed to the CardUP initiative in several ways. “I took AP computer science and that helped my ability to code. And we have an elective program where I took an engineering course, and this year a course on tikkun olam where I built a prosthetic hand on a 3D printer. So we were encouraged to find nonprofit groups to go out and help.”
The partners may turn CardUP into a for-profit business eventually. “Maybe at the end of the summer we’ll start charging a nominal fee,” Noah said. “We will make that decision based on the coronavirus situation.”