Youth Philanthropy

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is off to a good start for you.

I’m excited to get back to work this year after taking some time off to be at home with my son. I’ve got a few spots left on my calendar for that special client or project. Will this be the year you take time to engage more fully in your giving? I’d be more than happy to support you in this effort. Feel free to contact me today!

Still curious about what a philanthropic advisor does? Come see me in action later this month as I guide individuals in creating their own vision for giving in 2017. See below for more details.

Wishing you a prosperous year filled with joyous moments of giving.

Deborah Goldstein

Creating Your Vision for Giving in 2017

Did you feel good about giving in 2016? Did you feel overwhelmed by year-end requests? Did you have difficulty deciding which organizations to donate to? Do you feel like you could be more thoughtful about your giving?

Start the New Year off by creating your own vision for giving! In this interactive workshop I’m offering on Sunday, January 22, 2017, I’ll guide participants in articulating their values, identifying their interests, and picturing their legacy. Combined, this will enable participants to develop their own vision for giving.

Register today and enlighten your giving in 2017!

I’m especially pleased to be offering this workshop at Sacred Money Studios and Prosperity Pie Shoppe in Multnomah Village. This exciting new space is “a place where people gather and practice being in flourishing relationship with money through coaching, classes, community events and best of all, pie!” If you’re local, but not able to join me, I encourage you to check out this great community resource for yourself.


Resource Highlight—

As you know, I’m a huge supporter of youth philanthropy. Now, thanks to Foundation Center, is a welcome hub for content, data, and resources. The grants data paints an inspirational picture of youth giving around the world. The resource section provides numerous works that support youth and those who advise them. And if you want to know the latest, you can follow them on social media or check out events in your area. Take a moment to explore what the youth giving movement is all about!


Miztli Corona

Miztli Corona

In 2011, Hurricane Jova, destroyed parts of the village of El Limón in Jalisco, Mexico. At the time, third grader, Elian “Miztli” Corona, learned of this from his grandmother, who lives there. He wanted to do something, but wasn’t quite sure what to do.

A conversation with the village President helped him identify the need for a wall separating the local kindergarten (home to one kindergarten and two pre-K classes) and the neighboring house. With the wall blown down, the kids couldn’t go out and play without adult supervision and the neighboring dogs didn’t let the kids play in peace either.

Now 11, Miztli will be entering sixth grade at Santa Catalina this fall. Three years and two village Presidents later, he’s completed his project. Although he was given the opportunity by the Presidents to use the funds he was raising for something else, he was determined to finish what he started.

Miztli’s generous spirit, steadfast determination, and exuberance are evident throughout our long interview. I hope you’ll enjoy his story as much as I did.

Deborah: Tell me about your project in Mexico. How did it all start?

Miztli: Well, in third grade, I heard about a hurricane in Mexico that had destroyed a kindergarten. I really wanted to help so I got together a couple friends and we started the project. I started asking people nicely for money and stuff like that….

So, in Mexico, we bought a pool. We were trying to extend the property. We had to go to the capitol building of that town and my mom had to take care of some papers. I was left…in the lobby….I started talking with the secretary and eventually I started talking to the President about my ideas. Eventually my mom came back and she couldn’t find me. The secretary told her I was talking to the President. [My mom] was like “what?”

D: So the President helped you understand what the needs of the community were?

M: Yes, because I wasn’t sure what the community needed. I knew I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how I was going to help until I talked to the President and he told me that the kindergarten needed help.

The President of the town said he would help me. He told me that my part was to raise the money and he would take care of the job. And if there was extra money needed, he would pay for it. That was the good part. He did help a lot. When I went there, I spent a day with the kids and played with them.

Miztli Corona in play area (Photo courtesy of Marta Elena Corona)

Miztli Corona in play area (Photo courtesy of Marta Elena Corona)

By the time I finished the project, the person neighboring the kindergarten had put up their own wall. They said that would be okay for a little bit. Their play equipment doesn’t have a roof over it. It gets really blazing hot in Mexico and it’s old-fashioned metal equipment. It gets burning hot and the kids can’t go play. They’re in kindergarten so they really want to play on the equipment. They really want to go down the slide, but they can’t because they’d get burned on the hot metal. I raised enough money to put a cover above the equipment, so the kids can play even if it’s blazing hot. [Note: Following a visit this summer, Miztli’s mother reports that the cover is impressive—a metal frame with a gutter for water run off and a cover that allows sunshine in and protects from the hot sun and heavy rain.] I’m happy with what I got. It wasn’t my first intention, but at least it was similar, and the school got some of their biggest needs [taken care of].

D: So, you’ve been working on this for three years. How much money did you raise?

M: $3,000. There’s an organization in Mexico for the Jalisco state—Club Unidos—that represents all the tiny little towns. They are in LA. I heard of this group and went to a meeting in LA, as well as a visit to our grandma who lives [there]. We talked to them and I presented my ideas. They really liked it and contributed $300, which is a lot for one day.

D: How did your friends help you?

M: In third grade, my friend stayed with me and helped me make stuff for the project. We had a movie night and…made posters.

D: Did any of your other friends help you along the way?

M: I had another friend who helped in fifth grade.

D: So mainly it’s been a project you’ve done on your own?

M: Yes, mainly on my own. But the community definitely helped more.

D: What other kind of activities did you do?

M: I think that’s about it, but we did walk around asking people for money. We made a box that we put the money in. It was heart-shaped.

D: Eventually you got to go to this region in Mexico and help, right?

M: Yes, because that’s where I’m from.

D: So that’s why this was such a special project for you.

M: Yes.

D: Do you visit every year?

M: Yes, we visit every year and we’re going back in about two weeks.

D: So you have a personal connection with this place?

M: Yes, I do. I went there for one day when I was younger. I was born here. But I went there for a day to try school in Mexico. I didn’t like it.

D: Why didn’t you like it?

M: I was used to school here.

D: What did your mom and dad say when you said you wanted to do this?

M: I think they were surprised.

Miztli with schoolchildren (Photo courtesy of Marta Elena Corona)

Miztli with schoolchildren (Photo courtesy of Marta Elena Corona)

D: What was your favorite part of this entire experience?

M: My favorite part might have been either spending the day with the kindergarteners. That was really fun. And also just working on it at school. In third grade, I remember it was really fun to just walk around and ask people to help me.

D: How did most people respond to you?

M: Most people were really like “Whoa, is this kid doing this?” Most of them helped and the ones that couldn’t promised to help in other ways, like they’d give me a schoolbook or something.

D: Now that this project is done, do you want to do something else?

M: I was thinking since this project’s over, I’m thinking of doing a smaller one. I’d go look for any other place that needs help and start another one. It’s been really hard and I don’t know if I want to do that again, but I might look in the newspaper [and see] if anybody needs help. I raised $300 pretty quickly. I started in May and raised that much by August. So I might just look for something that needs $200.

D: It’s nice to see that a small amount of money can make a difference, isn’t it?

M: Yes. Like $50 could help someone get a bunch of shots that they need. Or could help remodel an assisted care place. If everybody gave $50 it would be a lot. Or if everybody gave $1 and 100 people gave one dollar, it would be $100.

D: I like your thinking. You recognize that there’s power in multiple small gifts. What do you say to keep yourself motivated when you get overwhelmed?

M: I like to take a break and do something that I actually enjoy like play football. Then I come back to it later and I’ll be nice and calm and happy and I’ll have energy. If I get frustrated again, I’ll just go do something else. Sometimes that break will only be an hour. Sometimes it will be a week. It depends on how fast I can get back to it too.

D: When I first met you and your dad, he was telling me how you got your hair cut for Locks of Love. Tell me what inspired you to do that.

M: I just kinda wanted to grow my hair out and so I did. For Santa Catalina I can’t have long hair, so I thought, “why not just donate it?”

D: How did you hear about Locks of Love?

M: I think a bunch of kids at our school had done it. And I thought of it because I’d heard of it.

D: Have there been other projects like this that you’ve done?

M: No, just this.

D: Who influences you in your giving? How did you learn about giving?

M: I just kind of thought of it. No one really helped me. I just thought I could help. I’ll do it.

D: So, had you done any other giving with your parents or grandparents before this? Did you volunteer somewhere?

M: I don’t think so. I’ve always liked helping. The first thing I always do when I walk into the classroom is ask my teacher if she or he needs help with anything. I just do that. I always like talking with people and just helping. If I notice there’s somebody who needs help, I’m probably the first one to go up and help them.

D: What do you like best about giving?

M: It just feels good once you’re done. It feels like you start something and then you get really overwhelmed. It feels really good to say, “I helped. I did good. I helped everybody and I finished the project I started.”

D: If you could make any difference in the world, what would you want it to be?

M: I just like helping. So, I don’t know. It might be traveling the world. I really like photography. I might take pictures of animals and sell them and use the money to help a charity or remodel an assisted living facility or get food for people who need it.

When I asked Miztli how he learned about giving, his mother chimed in and said that the whole family has learned about giving, even Miztli’s little sister, through this project. What an important reminder that it’s a great way for a family to bond—give and volunteer together!


For more about Miztli and his project, read this article in the Cedar Street Times.


Sahar and a young Bosnian girl (Photo courtesy of Sahar Afrakhan)

Sahar and a young Bosnian girl (Photo courtesy of Sahar Afrakhan)

Watch out Berkeley! Here comes Sahar Afrakhan, a proud member of the class of 2018! This young woman is passionate about giving back. I had the pleasure of meeting Sahar last spring when she participated on a panel I moderated on engaging the next generation in philanthropy. Her poise and passion inspired everyone in the room. Maybe some of her thoughts on philanthropy will inspire you.

Deborah: How do you define philanthropy for yourself? And how are you engaging in philanthropy? Who are you engaging in philanthropy with?

Sahar: Service and philanthropy have always been naturally a part of my life. I’ve never thought about what philanthropy means to me because I’ve taken it for granted (its role in my life). My parents have just raised me with the idea that giving back and opening your eyes to something bigger than yourself is part of the recipe for success and a way to further one’s education. Since I’ve become involved with philanthropy I’ve worked with children from ages 4-16, I’ve spoken to adults about how to get the youth involved, [and] I’ve spent a lot of time with members of other family foundations that are under 18 and getting hands-on experience. It’s really cool to see a group of people so dedicated to the same project, like YPC (Youth Philanthropy Connect).

D: Who influences you in your philanthropy?

S: Again, my parents were the initial push for my interest in the philanthropic field and working with NGOs, etc. but I’ve really been inspired by a multitude of mentors. My social justice teacher at school, Mrs Levine, has been phenomenally helpful and so supportive in planning my trip to Bosnia last summer, where a friend and I conducted a multiethnic summer camp for children. Additionally, Anita Roehrick, my first official advisor/mentor with Positive Impulse (PI), who pushed her daughter Miranda, and then us, to truly take charge of our passions and the work we wanted to complete. Nobody held our hand with PI and I always value those experiences—struggling and failing a few times is much better than getting it right the first try—in terms of a learning process and developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. Lastly, everyone I’ve met through YPC—you, Dana Marcus, Annie Hernandez—continue to push us one step further with our ideas and turning them into concrete, feasible tasks.

D: How have you learned about philanthropy?

S: I didn’t even know what the word philanthropy meant until a couple years ago. I’ve never thought of it as something I needed to dive deeply into defining it or analyzing its role in my life. That would ruin the fun for me and make it feel like a job rather than a free flowing passion. What I’ve learned from philanthropy doesn’t come from a book or a dictionary, rather it’s a cumulative of my experiences so far.

Sahar and a young Bosnian boy (Photo courtesy of Sahar Afrakhan)

Sahar and a young Bosnian boy (Photo courtesy of Sahar Afrakhan)

D: Tell me more about your trip to Bosnia last summer.

S: I went to Bosnia with two of my friends to conduct a multiethnic summer camp in a town called Vares. We did it for about 10 days from 8-1 PM every day and had crafts, games, sports—just generic summer camp games, but the important part was that it was multiethnic.

D: What inspired you to go?

S: My friend is Bosnian and fled the war when she was born with her mom as a refugee. Her dad died in the war before she war born, and through her, I learned a lot about the war and thought it would be good to go over summer. Our school set up a summer camp program in Vares, but didn’t go last year so we took the initiative and went instead.

D: What was the most surprising thing about your experience?

S: How comfortable it was. We had our own apartment and met a bunch of kids in the town our age so we had people to hang out with after camp and they even helped us control the hyper little boys. I made friends that I still talk to on Facebook. It was kind of homey in the town.

D: How do you think this opportunity differed from your past philanthropic experiences?

S: It was the first time I was unmoderated. I had no adults, no supervisors. I was by myself in a pretty foreign, poor country. It was my first philanthropic, abroad experience. I loved the independence. I loved being in charge of myself and my decisions. And the camp was a success. It was the first year we had heard back that the local people weren’t annoyed with the Americans, which usually consists of a teacher and a group of students. So we were really excited to hear that.

D: How has this experience inspired your thinking about philanthropy?

S: It emphasized the importance of going out and away from your comfortable space and exploring other parts of the world and cultures. I think philanthropy is more than an act of kindness or a new English school in Africa. I believe it’s more about a curiosity and an openness to learning about how you can benefit the community around you, rather than “knowing” how to fix things. Typically I hear that service projects actually teach you more than you can give them, and I’ve found it to be true.

D: What is your philanthropic dream?

S: I think it would be really great to get teenagers really excited about philanthropy. A lot of my friends are busy with their own day to day lives and have the bigger world as the last thing on their minds, but if philanthropy could become a part of childhood and growing up and learning to channel compassion into action, the world might become a better place.

And this is one of many reasons why I like Sahar…We share the same philanthropic dream! Can you help us make it come true?


Deborah at Philanthropy Camp for Women  Photo by Kristen Fletcher

Deborah at Philanthropy Camp for Women
Photo by Kristen Fletcher

In case you missed it, Enlightened Philanthropy was featured in the March 27th edition of Off 68, a local weekly publication put out by The Californian in Salinas.

Click here to read the article and learn more about my work with individuals, families, and teens.

Find out more about Philanthropy Camp for Women or the speaking opportunities mentioned in the article on my website.


Why Do You Give?

March 31, 2014

Take a few minutes and consider—why do you give?

If it helps, think about some recent donations you made. Why did you choose to give money to an organization? Or why did you decide to volunteer to help put on that event?

Do you give because you:

  • Are compelled by religious tradition?
  • Want to give back?
  • Want to support a cause that you care about?
  • Want recognition?
  • Want tax benefits?
  • Want to build a stronger community?
  • Feel good when you do it?

Anne Frank quoteReminding ourselves why we give allows us to reconnect with our giving. It also serves as reinforcement of the giving we are already doing.

I often open conversations with clients or presentations for groups with this question, so I thought I knew all the possible answers. However, I’ve found in reviewing my own giving history, facilitating Philanthropy Camp for Women, and participating in weekly Why I Give chats on Twitter, that there are many more reasons to give than I thought.

Philanthropy Camp for Women

The women who have joined Philanthropy Camp are helping me see that why we give isn’t as easy a question to answer as I thought.

Here are just a few of their reasons for giving:

  • I can.
  • I see a need.
  • I was asked.
  • I want to make a difference.
  • I feel guilty if I don’t.
  • I find it’s a way to meet new people and make friends.
  • I like to help people help themselves.
  • I like to pay it forward.
  • I know my small donation can make a big difference in someone else’s life.
  • I feel a spiritual connection.
  • I know it’s the right thing to do.
  • I care about the person or animal or environment and I want to feel more connected to them.
  • I want to combine my efforts with others to synergistically effect change.
  • I want to feel part of something larger.
  • I want to feel like a good person.
  • I was once a recipient and now I want to give.

What is interesting to note, and you may have noticed this too when you reviewed your own reasons for giving, is that we don’t have just one reason we give. The reason may depend on the situation. Or it may depend on who’s asking.

Why I Give

Last year, I discovered the Why I Give chat on Twitter. This “global generosity movement” attracts givers from all over the world. You too can follow @WhyIGivechat and join us Tuesday nights (5-6 pm PST) with #WhyIGive (hash tag created by WhyIGivechat and Michael Chatman).

I find it truly inspiring to read why other people give. There’s something motivating and comforting about joining with other givers in a celebration of generosity.

I’ve also learned from participating in the chats week after week that again, there are many more reasons for giving than I could imagine. Giving is very personal.

Here are some of my favorites:




WhyIGive chat



WhyIGive chat



WhyIGive chat



WhyIGive chat



WhyIGive chat



WhyIGive chat



WhyIGive chat













Do any of these reasons resonate with you? Or do you have a reason that hasn’t been shared? Please feel free to share your own reason for giving in the comments below.

I hope to see you on Twitter too. I’m @dagphilanthropy.


Hannah Grogin and her dog, Bianca

Hannah Grogin and her dog, Bianca

Hannah impressed me the first time we met. My interview with her revealed why. Although I’ve known Hannah for some time as her youth group advisor, our conversation introduced me to all the great work she is doing in our community. I bet you’ll be impressed by this 16-year-old’s contributions too.

Deborah: How do you define philanthropy?

Hannah: Philanthropy is giving back to your community or causes that need help and making a personal sacrifice whether it be time or money or your energy put into it.

D: How are you engaging in philanthropy?

H: I am part of NCL, National Charity League, and we have a bunch of philanthropies that we help. I like to volunteer through that. I’m also in BIRTY [Beth Israel Reform Temple Youth group] and so we have our social action project, which is Save Our Shores. We help benefit the program by doing beach clean ups or bake sales and help raise money to raise awareness for them.

D: Tell me more about NCL and the different organizations you work with.

H: We have a list of philanthropies that we do with them, such as the SPCA, Project Linus, the Salvation Army, Operation Yellow Ribbon, Dorothy’s Kitchen, Nancy’s Project, Habitat for Humanity, and a lot more. NCL provides opportunities for you to help those programs. They have a website where you can check for events they are having or help they need in the community through local branches. It’s really fun. You do it with your classmates. And it’s a mother daughter organization, so you can do it with your mom. It’s good bonding and good for the community.

D: What has been your favorite experience with NCL?

H: More recently I started volunteering for the SPCA. I don’t have a lot of time during my week, but I go on Sundays and I help out there. I walk the animals, care for them, clean up after them. It’s really fun because I love the animals. It’s a fun way to spend time and be able to help them. I’ve been working with them for a month now.

D: How long have you been working with NCL?

H: Since seventh grade. Three years.

D: You’re the President this year?

H: Yes.

D: What sort of responsibilities do you have as President?

H: I make up agendas for our monthly meetings and make sure everyone does their jobs. For example, there’s a secretary, treasurer, people who bring recognition to the charities, and advertise for upcoming events.

D: How many people are in NCL?

H: There’s 7th through 12th grades [represented] and about 15-20 girls per class. And their moms.

D: And the chapter has girls from all over the area?

H: Yes. You meet a lot of people and it’s fun.

D: What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year with NCL?

H: We had a fun event recently where we went to the SPCA and made sock toys for cats. We filled [the sock] with catnip, fluff, and put a bell at the bottom and tied them up. We got to visit with the animals afterward. We do philanthropic activities for our meetings sometimes. We made placemats for Meals on Wheels once. We do activities that we can do after or during our meeting.

D: So you meet once a month with your board. How often do you meet as a whole group?

H: We have events once every four months or so. We have an Enrichment Day where a speaker will come and talk about anything that’s pressing for women and being active. There’s a Philanthropy Day where we get together in a gym and set up different stations where you can do philanthropies. So that’s fun. And then we have an etiquette practice too when we have teas. That’s interesting.

D: Are there other people you’re engaging in philanthropy with?

H: There’s also philanthropy through school [Santa Catalina]. We do the Child Fund and we have certain children that we sponsor through school and we help them raise money for their basic needs like food and shelter and clothing. We raise money as a school to help them.

D: Nice, so you’re doing things with your classmates, youth group, and your mom.

H: As a family, we have a tzedakah box in the kitchen where we put our loose coins and we plan to donate it to charity when we fill it up.

D: You and your brother get to choose?

H: Uh huh. So we get to choose and we have to count it up and put it in the rolls [to take to the bank] and we’re kind of in charge of that. So last time we got $60 from one tissue box [their tzedakah box], which was pretty cool.

D: Where did you give your money the last time?

H: We haven’t decided yet.

D: About how long would you say it takes you to save up $60 in loose change?

H: Six months maybe.

D: So everyone contributes.

H: Yes, it’s easy. If you just have a bunch of change sitting around or you go to the store and get extra change, you put it in there and it adds up.

D: How would you say you learned about philanthropy?

H: I’ve always been influenced by school in terms of philanthropy. I went to All Saints and they are very into philanthropy and charities and outreach as they called it. I remember “bean bagging” or bagging beans and Nancy Costello delivered it. We would do food drives and clothing drives. And we were connected with a school in Haiti, so we would raise money to buy them goats and wells for fresh water.

D: What do you like best about giving?

H: I like that I get to make a positive impact in someone’s life and that what I’m doing is not just making me feel better, but also making a difference with other people.

D: So how does giving make you feel?

H: It makes me feel good. Being Jewish, you’re encouraged to do good to others and so it makes me feel like a good person and I like helping people.

D: If you could fulfill a philanthropic dream, what would it be?

H: I think everyone should have the basic necessities of life—food, water, shelter, clothing—because without those you can’t really survive or do anything else beyond trying to find things for survival. So I think that to get anyone who can those basic needs. And once those are satisfied, you can work on other things.

Until I met Hannah, I was not familiar with National Charity League. If you’re a mother and looking for ways to bond with your daughter and give back to the community, this sounds like a great opportunity! If you’re local, you might just meet Hannah and her mom!



Bryce Rosenau and his bracelets (Photo courtesy of Julie Rosenau)

Bryce Rosenau and his bracelets (Photo courtesy of Julie Rosenau)

Just after the start of the new year, I was thinking about who to interview next for this series. The answer came to me in the Monterey County Weekly. They had written a short piece on Bryce Rosenau, a fourth grader at Junipero Serra School. Bryce sold bracelets he made at the Rio Grill’s Resolution Run to raise funds for the Natividad Medical Foundation’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I tracked Bryce down for an interview.

Deborah: How did you get the idea to make bracelets and sell them?

Bryce: My mom was working with this project and I just wanted to help. I knew how to make the bracelets so I said how about I make money this way.

D: What kind of bracelets are they?

B: They are called rainbow loom bracelets and you make them on a loom with rubber bands. I made 100 bracelets.

D: How long did it take you to make all the bracelets?

B: I started in September and I finished in December.

D: And you made every single bracelet yourself?

B: Uh-huh.

D: You asked people to make a donation for the bracelet. Did you ask for a certain amount?

B: It was $5 for a bracelet.

D: Did you sell them all?

B: No, I sold about 50 and got donations. $300 total.

D: Before this did you know anything about Natividad Medical Center?

B: Not really. The only thing I knew was that my mom worked with them last year and I helped set up and got everything ready [for the Rio Grill’s Resolution Run].

D: What did you do this year?

B: This year I did the bracelets and then I also helped get more money for the babies at Natividad Medical Center [in the neonatal intensive care unit].

D: Why are the babies at Natividad so important to you?

B: The babies are sick and were born early. I just wanted to help out. I wanted those babies to survive.

D: Have you had a chance to visit the NICU? What was it like?

B: Yes. Well, they had all their machines for them and I think there were 10 babies there.

D: What does giving mean to you?

B: Helping or giving up something I have to other people.

D: Was this your first time doing something like this? Volunteering?

B: Yes.

D: Who was your biggest influence in deciding to do this?

B: My mom.

D: What is it about your mom that really made you want to do this?

B: My mom said if you really want to do something about this you can and then that’s when it hit me what I wanted to do.

D: What have you learned about giving from your mom?

B: Don’t keep everything to yourself. Share with other people.

D: What did you like best about this experience?

B: Seeing the NICU.

D: So you got to see how the money you raised was being used?

B: Uh-huh.

D: How did that make you feel?

B: Happy.

D: Do you think you’d do something like this again?

B: I might do something different. Maybe save money [and support the NICU].

D: Do you want to get your friends involved? How would you get them involved?

B: Yes. Maybe ask them “do you want to help?” and it’s for this certain cause.

D: How do you think people reacted to you doing this?

B: Maybe they’d want to help after I do this. Some of the people [at the Rio Grill’s Resolution Run] were surprised and excited.

D: Before you did this, did you think a nine-year-old could save a life?

B: No.

D: Do you think you can now?

B: Yes.

This last exchange was so heartwarming and powerful. I truly believe that Bryce will be forever changed as a result of this experience. He’s starting to learn the joy of giving. It can mean changing a life!

If you know a young philanthropist in your life that I should interview, please contact me.


I Have a Dream…

January 22, 2014

When I woke up Monday morning, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I realized that I too have a dream. I was inspired by the plethora of Martin Luther King, Jr. quotations making their rounds on the Internet and the conversations I’ve been having with people recently about philanthropy (see my last post). I was also inspired by the essay of a colleague’s son about his dream for our world. Remember the days of the classroom writing prompts? For example, write an essay sharing your dream with the world.

And so, I thought I’d share my dream.

I have a dream…that one day people of every age, race, religion, sexual orientation, and nationality embrace philanthropy. That they own the word. They will come to find that all the other words we use—volunteering, giving, social action, social justice, service, service learning, community service—are actions of philanthropy. No matter how small the gesture or large the gift, acting from a place of love for your fellow human beings IS philanthropy.

I have a dream…that our society defines philanthropy from this broader perspective and embraces all who are bold enough to dream with me. That people will gather with me and others who truly believe that everyone can be a philanthropist.

Philanthropy is for you and me. It is for the nine-year old boy who doesn’t believe he can save a life until he sees that his talents can raise money to operate a neo-natal intensive care unit. It is for the 90-year old woman who talks with her grandchildren about the importance of giving and how that has been a driving force in the family’s business for generations. It is for the person who always thinks she is on the receiving end and has nothing to give. And it is for the teenager who is just embarking on an exploration of how he can make a difference in this world. We can all be philanthropists, in our own ways.

I have a dream…that as we engage in philanthropy, we engage from our core values, from deep down in our heart. We take time to examine our values, whether it is freedom, community, equity, family, integrity. Or maybe it’s innovation, happiness, or personal growth. Whatever our values are, may we learn to connect with them in a way that allows us to express them to the world through giving of our time, talent, treasure, or ties. And in so doing, we come to find our own meaning in the word philanthropy.

I have a dream…that one day, we will all be philanthi-have-a-dreamropists.

What is your dream? Please feel free to share in the comments below.


Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

Are you ready for the year ahead? Do you want to have a happy, healthy year? Try GIVING! Yes, that’s right, giving contributes to your happiness and health.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 10.13.43 PMAppearance on Your Health

The other day I had the pleasure of joining my friend Gina Renee, acupuncturist, holistic nutritionist, author, and radio and tv show host, on her monthly local cable access show, Your Health, to discuss the health benefits of giving. If you missed it, the show will be rebroadcast Monday, Feb. 3 at 4 pm and 11 pm on local cable channel 24 (for those of you in the Monterey area) or on Amp Media.

I had such fun preparing my talking points for our conversation that I thought I’d share them here as well. I’d been gathering articles and blog posts for months. I even revisited notes from conferences I’ve attended.

All of this research reminded me why I love being a part of the world of philanthropy. Not only does giving feel good…it actually IS good for our mental and physical well being!

Research on Happiness

There are a plethora of studies these days on happiness. There’s even a recent documentary on it—Happy. What researchers have found is that 40% of our happiness is related to intentional activities we engage in. Only 10% is related to the things we might typically think effect our happiness—our job, socioeconomic status, health, or where we live. The other 50% is genetically pre-set.

Philanthropy or giving—in any form—is one of these intentional activities. Here are a few of the findings:

  • The top reported source of happiness is helping others.
  • Helping others—whether you spend time with someone who lives alone, make a donation to a cherished cause, or run that Race for a Cure—creates a helper’s high or giver’s glow. In other words, as we engage in these activities, our brain pumps out dopamine, elevating our mood. The great thing is, these actions have a cumulative effect!
  • Helping others also reduces depression.

In fact, one of the amazing bits of information I learned was that just thinking about doing good signals the pleasure center in your brain. Imagine what happens when you act on those thoughts!


Here are some other great research findings on how volunteering, a popular form of philanthropy, influences our health:

  • Volunteering can add years to your life, regardless of your age. The key is volunteering on a regular basis.
  • Volunteering helps lower blood pressure.
  • If you have a chronic condition and you volunteer to help someone with the same condition, you create a positive health effect for yourself by finding a sense of purpose.

Giving, Kids, and Health

One of my favorite findings is related to the youth I love to work with. Studies show that giving in high school is a predictor for good mental and physical health into late adulthood. In other words, giving provides a protective halo for kids as they age! Another benefit to engaging your kids in giving at a young age.

Want to learn more about the health benefits of giving? Check out Dr. Stephen G. Post’s website. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him present twice and he has compiled some incredible research on the subject. He’s also written two best-selling books on the topic: Why Good Things Happen to Good People and The Hidden Gifts of Helping.

Here’s to a year full of giving, happiness, and good health!


Skye with two of his beautiful scarves

Skye with two of his beautiful scarves

Last month I was honored to meet Skye Burttschell, the Central Coast’s National Philanthropy Day 2013 Outstanding Philanthropic Youth. Skye’s smile and energy are infectious, as is his passion and desire to help a local organization near and dear to his heart—Dance Kids of Monterey County.  I was pleased to sit down with Skye, a fifth grader, earlier this month for an interview to learn more about his own efforts to give back to his community.

Deborah: How would you define philanthropy?

Skye: Honor.

D: Tell me more about your story and why you were honored.

S: I was honored because I raised money by tie-dying scarves. I raised the money for Dance Kids of Monterey County.

D: Why are they important to you?

S: Because I love the Nutcracker and it’s like a family, a fun family.

D: So, you’ve performed with them?

S: Yes, for five years.

D: And, what made you want to raise money for them?

S: I think it was four years ago they said they might not be able to have the Nutcracker. And then I went up to Alan Richmond, the producer, and said, “Does this mean we’re not going to have another Nutcracker?” And he said, “We’re going to have another one even if I have to sell my kidney.” So, when that happened I thought maybe we could tie-dye scarves and raise money.

D: Why did you think of tie-dying scarves? Is that something you do?

S: That was my mom’s idea.

D: Where do you sell the scarves?

S: I sell them at my dad’s store, the first store on the right going down Ocean Avenue [in Carmel]—Palomas Home Furnishings.

D: And how much money did you raise?

S: The first year I raised $500. Last year I raised $1,000.

D: Have you involved anyone else in your process?

S: Me, my mom, and some of my friends help me. They helped me with the tie-dye design. We did the chemical color stuff.

D: Why is this organization so important to you?

S: Because my family, my cousins used to be in it. And I kind of just want to take it down [through] the generations. It’s a tradition. Dance Kids means family, very fun, passionate family.

D: What have you learned from your philanthropy or giving?

S: It’s good to put people first and not just you and be giving.

D: Did you learn that from family, school?

S: I don’t know. I just know how to do it.

D: What does giving mean to you?

S: Like putting people first like I said and making sure they’re feeling okay.

D: How do you think giving at a young age will help you later in life?

S: It will make me learn what to do and what not to do. So I won’t mess up. But when you mess up you learn what to do. It’s an opportunity to learn.

D: Do you see your parents giving back?

S: My mom has donated her time backstage at Dance Kids.

D: What has this experience been like for you?

S: It’s been very cool, fun, happy.

Skye refers to himself as an actor and has just wrapped up another production of the Nutcracker. He’s looking forward to being in an upcoming performance of Dr. Doolittle. Watch for him at a theater near you!

I was pleasantly surprised at the end of our time together when Skye graciously presented me with one of his gorgeous tie-dyed scarves. This gift holds special meaning to me of the power of a young philanthropist. I hope his giving spirit only continues to blossom as he grows up!