Erika Ettin


When you walk by a stranger, it’s so easy to ignore someone, especially in a big city. But, she took my breath away when she said to me, “ You know, I could be your mother.” It deeply resonated with me, and I realized that no matter what place we are in, everyone can come upon on a hard time. I dug in my purse, finding that I had $5 on me, that’s what I gave her. I never found out what she needed the $6 for, but I felt like in the moment, I went with my gut.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Profession: Founder, A Little Nudge

Twitter: @alittlenudge

What was the first gift you ever gave?:

When I first moved to D.C., I was training for a marathon. It was the Whitman-Walker National AIDS Marathon. We had to raise money for the charity and each were responsible for raising $2,700. I contributed, my parents gave, my friends also gave, and I did it! I raised the full amount, it was a very rewarding experience. Before participating in this, I hadn’t had a connection with the charity. It was great to learn more about their work through the race.

What is your charity of choice?:

At the moment, I have two organizations which I am committed to supporting.

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue – it’s the organization where I got my dog from and I love him so much. They rescue dogs from South Carolina and Puerto Rico who are in high-kill shelters and look for people to adopt them. I like everything I learned about them from the moment I heard about about them. So, it’s where I decided to get my dog from. I go to all of their events now, especially their fundraisers. The more I can do for them, the better I feel.

The other charity I support is one that found me on the street, Children International. The first line they said to me was: do you like helping people? They captured my attention, and now I give $30 per month to help a child in need. It helps pay for important provisions, such as her school supplies. I get a picture in the mail of the girl I’m helping with a note on her progress. I give to them because I feel like I can afford it and it’s making an impact.

What inspires you to engage in philanthropy?:

I try to always go with my gut when I see someone in need or I hear about someone in need. Living in D.C., there are a lot of homeless people. I carry around granola bar and  give that to someone when they ask for food. If they turn it down, then I keep going. About a year ago, I was coming out of dinner with a friend of mine. A woman stopped us by the door and asked me for $6. I don’t carry cash – also, $6, it seemed like an unusual amount. It was an uncomfortable few seconds as we tried to express we couldn’t help. When you walk by a stranger, it’s so easy to ignore someone, especially in a big city. But, she took my breath away when she said to me, “ You know, I could be your mother.” It deeply resonated with me, and I realized that no matter what place we are in, everyone can come upon on a hard time. I dug in my purse, finding that I had $5 on me, that’s what I gave her. I never found out what she needed the $6 for, but I felt like in the moment, I went with my gut.

How do you give of your time?:

If there are volunteer events in the community, I try to go them when I can. In particular, I have fond memories of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a holiday to donate to those that are hungry. It was a fun and meaningful experience. I don’t have a recurring volunteer project, maybe someday?

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

Think about what’s most important to you – what you feel you can have the most impact on. I’m an animal lover, if I can be a part of  rescuing more dogs, I’d love to do that. I encourage people to think what might be driving them and how they can help.



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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