Bindu Balan

A chance to do my part in making sure that a child’s choices and dreams aren’t limited by the neighborhood or zip code they grow up in.

Location: Harlem, New York

Profession: Development and Communications Director

Twitter: @bbalan2

Why do you work at GEMS?:

Our mission to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of girls and young women by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.

What drives you to pursue work in the fundraising fields?:

It is an opportunity to give back to the city I call home. A chance to do my part in making sure that a child’s choices and dreams aren’t limited by the neighborhood or zip code they grow up in.

Who inspires you to give/pursue your career path?:

For me it’s the amazing girls and young women we work with at GEMS. They inspire me every day to go the extra mile, to get out of bed even when it’s hard, etc. Every development role I’ve held it’s the people we serve that inspire me to keep doing this work.

What motivates you to encourage others to give?:

It’s being able to share that their donations is doing far more than they can ever imagine. It’s being able to sit at one of GEMS Educational Initiative graduation ceremonies and watch 80 plus girls and young women celebrate their educational accomplishments, its seeing our Youth Development groups create opportunities for healing, encourage creativity and strong and healthy relationships, etc.

Can you share a specific story of giving that has influenced you personally or professionally?:

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a culture of giving. A specific giving story that has inspired me recently is when students get involved with fundraising for GEMS and to see students develop that culture of giving early.  Recently, we have had a few high schools get involved in raising funds and collecting in-kind donations to support our work.

What trend/book/unique experience within the field of Development do you find to be the most interesting currently and why?:

I think in this day and age where everything is social media driven, I find it interesting on how people choose whom they give to. Does the flashiest social media campaign raise the most dollars? What moves a person from hitting “like” on Facebook or “retweet” on Twitter to donating to that organization.

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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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