Heather Abbott

Walks are a great way to help people who may not have known about these organizations to find out about them and the work they support.

Location: New York, New York

Profession: Partnership Marketing

Twitter Handle: @HAbbott4

What was the first gift you ever gave?:

I started giving of time in high school. I was part of the National Honor Society and as part of that I did service hours. I volunteered at a Nursing Home that was right near school. I ended up spending more time than what was required. I spent Saturdays with the Bingo players and visiting the residents on the floor. I have continued similar projects since then.

How do you give of your time?:

I give a lot of time to Cornell as part of Cornell’s Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network. It is a great way to get involved with the University without giving too much time or money. It’s also been transportable throughout the years – when I’ve transferred to a different geographic area, it’s come with me. At the Cornell Club of Long Island, I launched Cornell Cares Day, a day of alumni service projects where we visited Island Harvest, a local food bank. My undergraduate degree was in Food Marketing so it was extra nice to be reconnected to that area. ​This started in 2006, and Island Harvest has hosted it ever since. In addition, I serve as the Long Island District Director of the CALS Alumni Association. I was just nominated to the Board of the Incentive Marketing Association as well. After my almost 9 years of working in the gift card industry, it is a great way to give back to an industry that I really enjoy being part of as well as help move the industry forward.

What charity are you most connected to?:

I’m on the Board of Directors of the Adult Congenital Heart Association. I serve on it because I have a personal interest in this cause as I have a defect. I’ve been on that board for six years. I also co-chair the Congenital Heart Walk on Long Island. We raised over $100,000 with over 600 people this year. The walk has grown exponentially with time. It’s one of the largest in the country – there are about 30 of these walks. Walks are a great way to help people who may not have known about these organizations to find out about them and the work they support. There are over 1 million adults living with heart defects.

Who inspires you to give?:

I’m inspired by people who are everyday donors. I’ve met a number of great people through the Congenital Heart Walk. Several of them have lost children to heart defects. They’ve turned around and done phenomenal jobs of fundraising after dealing with tragedy – just watching the amount of passion they have for these causes and the level of impact they are having is amazing. I also take note of celebrities when they start their own philanthropies. Fab-​u-wish is a non-profit started by Giuliana Rancic for​ women who have survived breast cancer. I’m inspired by people like that as well.

What motivates you to give?:

I think it’s important to give back so when I choose organizations to support, more often than not, they are organizations that have given something to me. I see this as a way to pay it back to them. In other cases, it may be a way of paying it forward. I’m also inspired to give when family members are asking for funding for their projects. I’ve had situations where I read about something in a magazine and I decide to donate to a cause. It’s about personal impact with me.



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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