Aaron Holiday


My wife and I personally organize a fundraiser each year called The Holiday Party, which is an opportunity to bring our networks together to raise money for causes we care about.  I’ve been fortunate to build a career and a network around people who are very diverse, who are all special and amazing people. I thought that by doing this party, bringing together everyone and leveraging people’s donation capacity to give to one organization at a time, we could make a greater impact than as individuals.

Location: New York, New York

Profession: Venture Capital (Founder of 645 Ventures) and Higher Education (Managing Entrepreneurial Officer at Cornell Tech)

Twitter Handle: @aholidayiii

What was the first charitable gift you ever gave?:

It was to iMentor. I used to to work at Goldman Sachs. Through the Community Teamworks program, I was encouraged to take a day off and spend it with a nonprofit. I met iMentor through the list of nonprofits recommended. I helped students with resume prep and for interviews for college. After that, I wanted to stay involved and joined their young executive board. This was in 2005, it was 5 years into the organization’s start. They had a small team and I had the opportunity to work with their leadership at the time: President Caroline Kim and CEO Mike O’Brian.

Who inspires you to give?:

Talented people who deserve an opportunity to compete. I come from an underprivileged background. I grew up in New Orleans. I knew there were lots of smart people, smarter people who never made it out to realize their full potential. That’s not fair. There’s not really a level playing field. A lot of people are underexposed to opportunities. My inspiration is an experience. That motivates me. Some people may draw inspiration from other people. For me, inspiration and passion come from within through personal experiences.

What motivates you to give?:

The personal experience of being a recipient of nonprofits, such as ML4T, Consortium, Kauffman Fellowship and others that exposed me to opportunities that I would not otherwise known existed.

What would you say to others to encourage philanthropy?:

Everyone isn’t in the position to give back philanthropically. I’ve heard that you should spend the first third of your life learning as much as you can to become an expert and build skills. Then, you should spend the next third of your life building generational wealth. Finally, you should spend the last third giving it all away. If you plant the seed early, you can be inspired to give later.

You have committed to giving time. Tell us more:

I host office hours for 645. I have institutionalized it within my own organization. People on my team know that we need to talk to entrepreneurs who might not be there yet. It’s our role to help them to get prepared and understand how to raise capital. I’ve done focused activities in that way to give back.

How do you involve others in your philanthropy?:

My wife and I personally organize a fundraiser each year called The Holiday Party, which is an opportunity to bring our networks together to raise money for causes we care about.  I’ve been fortunate to build a career and a network around people who are very diverse, who are all special and amazing people. I thought that by doing this party, bringing together everyone and leveraging people’s donation capacity to give to one organization at a time, we could make a greater impact than as individuals. That’s a way to leverage power of community. It’s not just about me, but about how we can harness the collective power of a group of people to have an impact on important causes

Two years ago, we raised over $12,000 for Morehouse College, supporting African American men who were pursuing computer science degrees. Last  year, we raised over $11,0000 for Xavier University in Ohio, supporting young women who are pursuing careers in business and leadership. This year, we’re hosting our party on November 12 to support Practice Makes Perfect, an organization focused on narrowing the achievement gap by focusing on the summer learning loss. Y’all should come: http://www.theholidayparty2015.com

 



About

Julia Levy, Founder, has a decade of development experience, including working for a philanthropist, a small nonprofit and now a large nonprofit. She has raised significant dollars for numerous causes, from education to religion and from donors of all ages. Julia holds a Certificate in Fundraising from NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University. Julia has taught fundraising workshops, most recently at Brooklyn Brainery and coached development professionals.


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Why We Give tells stories of ordinary philanthropists, making a difference, dollar by dollar and hour by hour.  

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