Where Do You Give?

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Take a note from Angelina Jolie: Give!

At Barnard’s graduation this year, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, challenged the young women in front of her to “Run the world, because this world needs you to run it.  Women all around the world are counting on you.  I’m counting on you.” Quoting the blog All Things Digital by Kara Swisher, A New Yorker spread on Sheryl noted that none of the hottest new companies, including Facebook, Groupon, and Twitter, has a female director on its board. Sandberg has been popping up all over the press, on campuses, at conferences and in conversations with my own colleagues and friends. The CEO of a major NYC startup told me he has a “total crush” on Sheryl and a personal friend told me she aims to emulate Sheryl’s get-it-done M.O. Sandberg charges women to lean in. “If someone wants to give you more responsibility, take it, and if you’re not getting paid what you deserve, ask for a raise. Also, be simultaneously ambitious and collaborative to achieve personal and collective goals that will move our entire country, not just women’s place in it, forward.” Sheryl’s challenges to women both empower and energize me, but I also recognize the serious work ahead. As a leader of a five-person technology startup, navigating the mostly-male Silicon Valley demographic trend is not always easy.
An analysis of IRS data by Grant Thornton shows that, for the first time, women gave more than men in 2005. Women gave $21.7 billion, while men donated $16.8 billion. In 2008, JPMorgan reported that two thirds of its philanthropic services clients were women, a reversal of the situation a few years prior. “What Women Really Want,” a book by Celinda Lake and Kellyanne Conway, reveals that single women are more likely to be charitable donors than single men. Research in the field of women’s philanthropy is in its infancy and studies about how gender influences giving are still mixed.  Nonetheless, I hear this early evidence of women’s propensity for generous giving as a rally cry to lead the charge for all young philanthropists, male and female.

I’m still figuring out my own philanthropic priorities – how much, in which ways, when – but I feel responsible to join the ranks of female philanthropists and to recruit other men and women to do the same. Here’s what I propose we all do:

1. Get inspired

Studies show that men are often motivated by a desire to make their communities better and prefer to give where government can’t or won’t.  On the other hand, women feel a strong responsibility to help those who have less and respond favorably to a “world” message. Whatever your motivation, passions, or interest, take some time to identify what you feel most strongly about and commit to that cause.

2. Do your research

Don’t just jump in – if you’re going to be giving a significant chunk of your salary to a cause you care about, you’ll want to be sure you’re choosing the right charity/ies for you.  Charity Navigator is a great place to get started; it’s an independent charity evaluator that works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America’s largest charities.

3. Start giving

Giving back is about more than reaching into your pockets, but philanthropy is still an incredibly important element of supporting the causes we care about. Especially if you’re starting to write generous checks for the first time, it might help to team up. You may enjoy working with other people to find projects. You may want to pick one cause and give a lump sum or pay a consistent amount each month, or you might choose to split up your giving among a number of charities. Allocating 10 percent of your total income is a common number to aim for when giving. Start small to make sure you can afford it, then go up one percent at a time. Another great advantage of donating is the tax deductions, so make sure to keep track of donations for tax season. I’ve recently become part of Global Circle’s leadership.  As an organization and as individuals, we work to promote AJWS’s groundbreaking work with grassroots organizations and to build a vibrant, young support base. Both the Global Circle community and I hold personal philanthropy as a significant value, since we understand the impact our dollars can have on the empowerment of people and communities who lack the resources to fund their transformative ideas.  Thinking through this post and my future as an AJWS Global Circle lay leader has been an incredibly valuable exercise for me as I commit to allocating my time and funds – hopefully the same will be true for you.

Originally posted on The Global Circle Blog
Photo Copyright by World Economic Forum
swiss-image.ch/Photo by Jolanda Flubacher

Danya Cheskis-Gold

Danya Cheskis-Gold is the Community Manager at Skillshare, an online marketplace for offline classes. On a daily basis, she hustles, brings the learning revolution, and listens a lot. Danya is also a member of the AJWS Global Circle Steering Committee.

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