Daniel Braun

I am inspired by the people who reflect, aim to do good, see a problem that needs to be alleviated, and then take action to thoughtfully effect positive change.

Location: New York, New York

Profession: Attorney

What was the first philanthropic gift you ever gave?:

I cannot recall what was the first philanthropic gift I ever gave, but I remember being taught at an early age by my parents in particular and in Hebrew school in general the importance of Tzedakah. As a child, I used to participate through my school in fundraisers for the Terry Fox Foundation, which sponsors runs that raise funds for cancer research.

What is your charity of choice?:

There are many truly worthy foundations, and in the past few years, I am proud to have given to Global Health Bridge which focuses on developing and implementing grassroots-inspired health technologies to transform and improve healthcare delivery for communities in need. I also recently learned of and happily supported the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, which innovatively strives to alleviate hunger and promote self-reliance here in New York City. I have also greatly enjoyed leading a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cycle for Survival team in memory of my late mother, Julianna Braun, which has been one of the many cycle teams that raised money for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Who inspires you to give?:

First and foremost, I am inspired by my family, particularly my fiancée, parents, and brother. Moreover, I am inspired by causes and efforts that improve the human condition in some meaningful way, such as curing disease, fighting for rights and freedoms, alleviating hunger, and thoughtfully changing and challenging the way we perceive our world through creative and artistic endeavors. Broadly speaking, I am inspired by the people who reflect, aim to do good, see a problem that needs to be alleviated, and then take action to thoughtfully effective positive change.

What motivates you to give?:

I feel motivated to give by causes that I view as worthy, and here, I would like to draw a distinction between the concepts of “giving” and “participating.” I take “giving” to mean making monetary or in-kind donations such as food or clothing. I take “participating” to mean engaging in an activity, such as doing work for Habitat for Humanity or even creating an organization that acts upon a cause. With this distinction in mind, I am motivated to give by people who can do what I am unable to do. For example, I do not know how to develop treatments for cancer, or technologies that improve health care delivery in communities in need. There are, however, those special and heroic individuals who have the will, intelligence, and skill to address such issues, and I feel motived by both them and those in need, and feel privileged to give monetary support when I can, even in a small way, to hose who can make a positive difference.

How do you give of your time?:

Over the years, I am happy to have been able to have given my time to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Cycle for Survival, Habitat for Humanity, Lawyers Against Landmines, my synagogue (United Synagogue of Hoboken), and representing indigent New Yorkers pro bono via South Brooklyn Legal Services.

What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:

In my view, it is important to carefully look at others and at oneself in order to assess how we all may positively impact both our local and our broader communities. I think it is important to pay attention to what improvements can be made, whether near or far, and first ask oneself, what can I do? If you have the ability to do good in an area, then “just do it” by doing what you can to give your skills and time. If there is a limiting factor that prevents you from being the one who can directly effect the positive change, then do what you can to support those around you who are able to directly help. Finally, I believe that it is important to remember that giving is not binary — it is not simply all or nothing. If everyone gives what they can when they can, even small contributions can lead to large impacts.

Please note the views expressed in this post are representative exclusively of Dan as an individual. 


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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