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November 11, 2014

Donor Engagement: The Power of Personal Heritage

Donor Engagement: The Power of Personal Heritage


Philanthropy, for one donor we interviewed, began as a natural continuation of his upbringing.


My father, who was an immigrant to this country, was a big believer in helping others. He seemed to give an inordinate amount of his time and financial support to all of those types of activities. And it’s something that’s ingrained and something I grew up with.


As he grew older, he began philanthropic relationships with organizations that reflected his own interests and passions, based on his personal story.


When I was growing up, I heard all the stories that probably everyone else heard about discrimination, about problems in immigration, about the Holocaust, about the creation of the state of Israel. But as you get older and more mature and you’re part of the Jewish community, you begin to feel this need to connect with the state of Israel.

My biggest concern in our Jewish community, and Jewish communities throughout this country, is the lack of continuity with each succeeding generation. The lack of continuity in understanding the Jewish traditions, the Jewish religion, and what it means to be a Jew, from a generational point of view, from a heritage point of view, from an ethnic point of view and from a religious point of view.

Being Jewish is a very significant, a very complex, an extremely interesting cultural, social and historical identity. To preserve that identity, to preserve the knowledge that goes along with being identified as a Jew, is very important, and is a primary objective of my philanthropy.


This donor continues his philanthropic relationships with these organizations because they enable him to accomplish his goals—and also because they create within him an emotional connection with his personal heritage.


Many charities build within you a sense of belonging, a sense of commitment, a sense of understanding and moreover a sense of continuing need. They also represent a connection to me personally with the Jewish community. It truly is my strongest link to the state of Israel.


When a donor’s personal experiences connect with an organization’s mission, truly meaningful, transformational philanthropy becomes possible.



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