Christian Polman

It’s easy to come up with excuses, but when you see people at all levels of income and financial stability giving, you realize that you can give too. 

Location: London, United Kingdom
Twitter: @cpolman
What was the first gift you ever gave?:
I can’t quite remember all the little gifts I’ve given along the way for various fundraisers during high school and college, but I do remember feeling so strongly about my Cornell experience that I gave my first significant gift to Cornell soon after graduation.
What is your charity of choice?:
Today I focus my efforts on three fronts: 1) the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust – a family charity that we collectively run to help improve literacy rates among visually impaired children in East Africa 2) A range of small projects aimed at saving the environment while also improving the lives of the world’s poor and 3) any charity that my friends and family are raising money for through some sort of personal challenge – I love it when people go above and beyond.
Who inspires you to give?:
People who are in a far less financially stable position to mine who still give are true inspirations to me. It’s easy to come up with excuses, but when you see people at all levels of income and financial stability giving, you realize that you can give too.
What motivates you to give?:
One of the reasons I’ve chosen my career path is because I knew it would give me the ability to get involved in philanthropy, hopefully at an increasing pace as my career grows – and I think about it both financially and in terms of the advice, direction, and mentorship I can provide that comes with solid private sector experience. I’m motivated to work by being even more motivated to give.
How do you give of your time?:
Most of my giving time is dedicated to the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust. I’ve helped on a few projects (e.g. helping source cheaper Braille paper to cut back on variable costs to schools), I’ve spent a lot of time on the technology side – setting up our website, blog, social media, and email system for our staff – and on an advisory level.
What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:
Don’t wait, start now. It’s easy to keep waiting until you find the right cause, but you can even start small by going to and picking a few projects that fit with your interests and passions, set up regular contributions, and watching as those initiatives have a positive material impact on the world.


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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