Jonathan Donath: Revolutionizing the Way We Give Tzedakah

Updated: Aug 23


Dr. Jonathan Donath is a 1998 graduate of FYHS. Jonathan grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota as the second of four children, the first Donath boy to be born in America, and the grandchild of four holocaust survivors. After attending FYHS for high school, Jonathan went to Israel for Yeshiva, where he spent a year and a half at Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Zion. After spending summers at Camp HASC, he decided to switch tracks from pursuing business to going into medicine. He attended college at Yeshiva University, majoring in Pre-med with the intention of becoming a Chiropractor specializing in treating severe neck and back pain in sports injuries. Dr. Donath has run his practice for 16 years now and has been the chiropractor for the NYC Football Club for 5 years, treated New York Ranger’s players and Olympians, and, as he notes most rewardingly, some very well-known rabbanim. In 2018, he founded the organization Daily Giving, which allows users to automatically give a dollar a day to different charities across the Jewish spectrum. Jonathan currently lives in White Plains, NY with his wife Meira, his 15-year-old son, and his 12-year-old daughter.


When it had been time for high school, being that there were no Jewish high school options in Minneapolis, Jonathan was forced to make a choice: go to a non-Jewish private school while being tutored for Judaic studies or go away for high school. He and his family decided on Skokie, which is where he spent the duration of his high school career. “There had been some Minnesotans at Skokie in the past,” he said, “but it had been a long time since any Minnesotans had come. After another Minnesotan and I came, there were Minnesotans every single year for the next 15 years or so. It was like we made it cool to go to Skokie from Minnesota,” he joked. “Overall, it was a very positive experience, and any rough experiences were mostly that it’s just very difficult to be away from home when you’re 13 or 14 years old and getting used to doing your own laundry in addition to being away from home. But I would say that it really shaped who I am, and I have a lot of hakaras hatov for my years there and to my rebbeim. I still think super, super highly of all the rabbanim I had. They were all incredible.”


Since leaving Skokie, aside from running his thriving chiropractic practice, Jonathan spends much of his energy working on his organization, Daily Giving, which began in 2018. “I had just listened to a shiur on how even small mitzvos matter,” said Jonathan. “I was at my local maariv minyan that night and I put a dollar in the tzedakah box. I had this epiphany moment the second I put it in: no matter how much money I give to tzedakah, I still get a mitzvah every single time I put a dollar in. So, I thought, how can I guarantee this mitzvah every single day, no matter what, for a buck? I was so excited to go home and Google it. When I did, I could not find an organization that was trying to do this, trying to get Jews to give a dollar very single day and automate their daily giving. So, I called up my website guy and asked, ‘what do you think of this idea?’ And he said it was a great idea and that he could build me a website. Me and my other two best friends started meeting and we formed a 501-3c nonprofit called Daily Giving.”


Since its inception, Daily Giving has seen major growth. “The idea was, aside from having an automated platform, we started with 36 beneficiary organizations. Every single day we decided that we were going to give a different organization all the money we raised that day. 100% of every dollar goes to the organizations and I fundraise any other expenses separately through philanthropists that feel very strongly about what we’re doing. Back then, we had 36 organizations on rotation. Now, three and a half years later, we now have 58 organizations. Every day a different one gets the donations and every 58 days it repeats. We add a new one once a year and as we grow, we want to add more. Right now, we’re giving over $60,000 a year to 58 organizations and we’re about to go over the $10,000 a day mark. Daily Giving has raised over $8.5 million to various charities in the short three and a half years since we started.”


Aside from the major chesed impact that collecting and distributing the money has made, one of Jonathan’s favorite parts of Daily Giving is the unity that it brings. “We have almost 10,000 Jews from 34 different countries giving a dollar together,” he said, “and to me, that’s the most special thing. The achdus we’re creating is really special, along with the responses that we get. We send a daily email every day saying where the dollar is going that day and you see the numbers grow and grow. You learn about new organizations you never even heard of. There’s just one amazing organization after another. We call it a diversified portfolio or charities. For one dollar a day you could literally help dozens and dozens of incredible organizations and make a serious impact.”


“There are so many good parts of what I do,” he said. “It does not get old when my phone vibrates, and I look down and see that a new Giver signed up. It’s like the greatest feeling in the world. What more could Hashem want than all His children coming together to help our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than us? It’s the greatest feeling.”


To learn more about Daily Giving and the organizations they are impacting, visit dailygiving.org

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