In an era where we spend all of our free time wasting energy on the Internet, it is important to get outside sometimes and really understand how we can change the world — not everything needs an app, sometimes change just requires two hands and a heart.
Location: New York, new York
Profession: PhD Candidate at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Twitter Handle: @jmkaro
What was the first gift you ever gave?:
My parents and grandparents encouraged giving at a very young age. We were always given gelt (money) for the holidays and asked to donate it. I was pretty impressionable, so wherever they said it should go, it went – typically to Jewish organizations (my shul/camp) or the Ronald McDonald House/Make a Wish – I’ve always been impassioned by healthcare, my best friend growing up had a chronic pediatric disease.
What is your charity of choice?:
Now, UJA-Federation and Tufts Hillel. While on the Board of Tufts Hillel in college, where 75% of our budget is raised through philanthropic gifts, I began to understand the impact of a philanthropic dollar. The programs Hillel put on change the lives of students and giving them positive experiences and making them better people in general. On a larger scale, UJA-Federation is changing the lives of 4.5 million people in need. It is truly fascinating what a philanthropic gift can do.
Who inspires you to give?:
It was ingrained upon me at a young age that philanthropy was important. My grandfather would write a very large check to someone’s organization (even if he didn’t connect with the organization’s mission) because he saw what the organization was doing for those asking for the money and those who were benefiting. This methodology was passed on through my family. Most of my gifts as children were Israeli Bonds – they obviously were a wonderful gift because I was making money, but on the other hand, I was supporting Israel.
What motivates you to give?:
Impact. In college I was deeply touched by work that was supported mostly by philanthropy. $300B is raised philanthropically annually in America. $300B is a lot of money, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. If allocated correctly, that money can really change a lot of lives.
Furthermore, I am also a religious Jew. In that way, Tzedakah (charity) is a cornerstone of the Jewish faith – a concept that really resonates with me. We are taught that though our lives are pre-destined, we can actually change our fate through acts of charity and are encouraged to give 10% of our income annually. I really like that charity is a physical action that I can do to know I’m bettering myself versus the other options of prayer and repentance – those options are a little harder to monitor!
How do you give of your time?:
More often than not, people my age (20s) think that since they don’t have a lot of disposable income they can’t give back. However, giving time is just as important. I volunteer a lot of my time to my alma matter, Tufts, as well as UJA-Federation. The connections you make while volunteering and giving back can be just as substantial and rewarding as actually giving money.
What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:
Start small, see how it feels… you won’t regret it. If you don’t have the extra money to donate, donate some time – play board games with the elderly, teach children how to do math, feed the homeless. In an era where we spend all of our free time wasting energy on the Internet, it is important to get outside sometimes and really understand how we can change the world — not everything needs an app, sometimes change just requires two hands and a heart.
Furthermore, if you’re going to start giving (especially to a large organization) actually get involved in the organization. That way you have (1) more control over how the money is actually allocated, (2) gain a network of other amazing volunteer and professional leaders, (3) feel the impact of the organizations work firsthand.