I do believe that the most important things that I learned from the speaker series from all the three or four speakers is the need to capitalize on what you feel is most important and is your essential passion. This might mean rejecting a high-end job and the new york times or starting an organization like lavamae or having a job in fundraising. But if it means that you can achieve what you feel is best for you then go do it.
In each presentation, there were many things that stuck with me.
Robin Richards Donohoe was able to take her opportunities and connections with people through Coca Cola and continue things from there. Her strengths from education were in international work, and she was able to turn that into something that supported businesses and created social change
Doniece Sandoval was able to take her idea and act on it, something that I would probably never be able to do. She was able to see an injustice in our world, connect to it, and create something that was able to shape many lives not only locally, but across the country with tools to expand in many different platforms.
Somewhat similar to Sandoval, Lissa Soep turned her volunteer experience into ways to get involved philathropically. Although she was on the road to being a professor in education, she shifted her lens towards having a bigger impact towards a bigger audience through journalism.
For Brian Driscoll, his ability to build relationships and capitalize on his opportunities really stuck out, as his ability to succeed in a single area proved to be incredibly rewarding throughout his journey.
It seems that any talent or passion that you have can go into changing the world in some way.
In the end, there were a few common themes between all of the speakers. The first was the importance of focusing on something that you are passionate about and can use your time and talents effectively. One isn't going to get involved, much less stay connected, if one doesn't see a positive change in their community or feels passionate. The other was focused on proximity and human relationships. Whether it was Doniece Sandoval asking the homeless about their needs, Brian Driscoll traveling and asking for donations for non-profits, Robin Richards Donohoe interacting with many organizations that target a range of organizations, or Lissa Soep collaborating with various famous media platforms, it's clear that relationships are of the utmost importance in getting involved, receiving funding, and growing not only as a non-profit, but as a character.
'People say that relationships are everything, but they really are everything.'
Each speaker brought very educational information about both nonprofits and philanthropy in general but the things that stuck with me most were the general advice that they gave that also applies to philanthropy. For example, Robin Richards Donohoe said that the best way to begin a meaningful career is to take risks and give back to the community. This stuck with me because often the easiest path may not necessarily be the most impactful or fulfilling. She also said that you can't wait for the government to solve your problems, which I think is especially important with this administration but also in order to support a democracy. Doniece Sandoval had a similar message to Bryan Stevenson that I think is very important when thinking about philanthropy. She said that it is important to get close to those you are helping because the best way to support people or make them seen is by opening your eyes and seeing and hearing them as human beings and treating them that way. Lissa Soep talked about the difficulties of unbias reporting and I found that to be very relevant to the current political climate. I also resonated with what she said about giving people the independence to make their own voices heard in the community and I thought her work with YRMedia was very important to that mission. Brian Driscoll was one of the best story tellers, which probably contributes a lot to his job as a fund raiser. He mentioned how important it is to ask for things because with asking, you will never succeed. That is important both in fundraising and with taking risks in life to succeed. I also found his stories about truly connecting with people very useful because networking and communication are a key to almost everything in this world.
What stuck with me from Mrs. Richards Donohoe's presentation was Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation's method of philanthropy. I imagine what they do can be greatly impactful, as it helps independent organizations actualize their ideas and brings them to a point where they can sustain themselves. This creates a wide pool of issues which the foundation has supported. Some of the organizations who were helped by the foundation might be less successful than others, but the foundation has an overall large reach.
What Ms. Sandoval's presentation showed me was how organizations can expand their focus from local issues to international ones. An organization doesn't need to start with an international purpose. I have somewhat of a bias against local issues because I believe it tends to requires much more work to help local issues, and this effort effects very little change, whereas you can help many more people in other places that have more severe issues with the same amount of work.
Ms. Soep's presentation on her work at YRMedia gave some insight into what journalism involves. I was particularly interested by the restricted vs. unrestricted grants and how they affect the work you do and what you need to do for your organization if you wish to receive either type of grant.
I was interested in Driscoll's story and how he approached speaking to people and his experience asking for things. My biggest takeaway from his presentation was about transactional fundraising vs. transformative fundraising. I still grapple with the pros and cons of each type, and I have many questions about them, but being introduced to them was helpful.
Some things I took away from the speaker series were that everyone had a different beginning in terms of their introduction to philanthropy. That said, I noticed that many of the speakers began philanthropy because of a connection to their parents. For instance, Ms. Donohoe was very interested in philanthropy and entrepreneurship because of her mother and father. Furthermore, I was very intrigued by fundraising as a form of philanthropy, especially the difference between transactional and transformational fundraising. I was also interested in how the different instances of philanthropy impacted each other. For instance, the Donohoe Richards Draper Foundation has had a massive effect on philanthropy, and it was really interesting to see that effect with Doenice from Lava Mae. That was also especially cool to me, because I had learned about them and volunteered with them before and it was great to see how they had grown throughout their tenure.
Although each speaker worked in a completely separate realm from the others, they had similar overarching messages. For example, they were all willing to take risks. For Mrs. Donohoe, this meant that she took chances with newly founded organizations, and supported them with the hope that they would flourish. For Ms. Sandoval, this meant that she took a chance on the radical idea of transforming old buses into showers, and risking the possibility that after all her hard work, it would not be successful, and few homeless would take advantage of her service. For Ms. Soep, she sacrificed her path toward becoming a successful professor in order to pursue social justice that she cared more about, and journalism, which can be a more unpredictable career path than teaching. Although she could have chosen a more stable professor position, she took the risk of changing her trajectory. For Mr. Driscoll, he had to take risks all the time by putting himself out there and asking people for donations. Not everyone is comfortable asking others for money, and he wasn't necessarily comfortable all the time either, but he ended up succeeding because he took that risk.
In creating non-profit organizations, there is a large amount of risk-taking and sacrifice that is involved, particularly because you can never be sure if your idea and organization will be supported by others. But the entrepreneurs we heard from were passionate enough about their idea to have the courage to follow through, and they have wonderful success stories.
I am still super grateful to each of the philanthropists that came to speak with us about their unique paths to becoming involved in philanthropy. Mrs. Donohoe began by working for coca cola, but took a risk and helped create a foundation that is incredibly successful today. actually thought before the meeting that Mrs. Donohoe's foundation was the least related to philanthropy, however I've realized that their work is related but it is more in the background. The foundation helps out smaller foundations when they are starting up which is amazing, but does not necessarily interact with the community members they are serving. When Ms. Sandoval came to talk to us about her project I saw that as more philanthropy related due to the proximity aspect as Bryan Stevenson talks about because what Ms. Sandoval is doing is not easy and I am inspired by her work. I think with more publicity and a few powerful people involved that Ms. Sandoval's organization could really become something revolutionary in the way we see and treat the homeless and impoverished people in our country. She really set the groundwork for someone with a larger vision to adapt her organization and make its impact more on a nationwide and perhaps global scale! I know Ms. Sandoval talked about a few organizations in other states doing something similar to her thanks to the tool kit Lava Mae provides, but I think we as a community can make this bigger than it already is. I also was captivated by Ms. Sandoval when she began talking about how a shower can in some ways restore dignity and that had never occurred to me until she said that; I was awestruck and honestly felt a little guilty for worrying about my problems when people all over our city don't have access to cleaning themselves which is a basic human right. When Lissa Soep came to talk to us I instantly found her interesting and a good story teller in the way she meticulously told us about her road to YR Media. She brought up an interesting question that I am still not sure what my answer would be: What do I have to give or offer? I think that definitely changes depending on what place someone is in their lives, but we can always give back to the community we live in even if they haven't done something for us. Ms. Soep also taught us some important information about philanthropy in general: restricted grants vs unrestricted grants; and how to use them. I think Brian Driscoll was one of my favorite speakers (I was surprised by how much I enjoyed his talk) because he told the story with a lot of joy and more in a conversation way. He talked about his experiences from a very young age which I thought was incredible especially because his work now relates sort of to what he did as a child. Mr. Driscoll also talked about the differences between transactional and transformational fundraising that I actually hadn't thought about. Transactional fundraising sounds like something young kids and teens do to make money for their cause and there is nothing wrong with that, but I find transformational fundraising to be more impactful and make more sense in the long run. Transactional seems like a short terms solution compared to transformational. I also appreciated Mr. Driscoll's talk because he worked very hard to get where he is; nothing was handed to me, he was just driven sort of lucky to have the opportunities he did. Mr. Driscoll did not take any of the opportunities he had for granted and he flourished in the places he worked before Lick. I am still interested which non-profits he is on the board of and what sort of philanthropy particularly interests him. I believe he mentioned education because he was fortunate to have a good education because someone donated money so Mr. Driscoll wants some other kids to have that chance too. Overall I am very grateful for this speaker series and can't wait until I am able to hear from more amazing people.
I think a common thing I heard from each speaker was that when looking at philanthropy it's always important to look at the needs of the community you are serving. I also realized that there are so many ways to be go about philanthropy and each speaker represented a different side.
Robin Donahoe and Brian Driscoll for example focused heavily on the financial side of philanthropy. While Robin is someone who provides financial support and resources Brian showed how asking can be beneficial for a secondary party. Brian's stories also showed that understanding not only the community you are serving is important but those who you are asking support from. We cannot expect everybody to be as willing or passionate about the same causes we are and understanding others and their values allows for successful philanthropy.
Looking at things in terms of direct involvement I learned that it is possible to reach a global audience while remaining local. The toolkit that LAVAMAE uses is such an amazing concept that allows them to central to the Bay Area while also reaching out to other communities. Something that I learned from Ms.Soep is that trying to get funds and support can be difficult in terms of time and maintaining the integrity of the organization or movement.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.