John Chu


In college, I had a realization that I didn’t want to just graduate, spend my years making money and accumulating things for myself, and then drop dead. To me, a giving life – whether through giving resources, talents, or time – is a much more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Profession: Senior Communications Specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy

What was the first charitable gift you ever gave?:
The first memory I have of giving to charity is participating in the March of Dimes walk through my elementary school when I was 8.  I collected quarters, dimes, and nickels from family and friends and fundraised about $10 (which seemed like a lot of money for an 8 year old!).  I remember walking with a large number of fundraisers the day of the event, and the positive energy of the crowd made it a fun way to give to a good cause.
What is your charity of choice?:
I like to support charities that promote arts education. I believe the arts (music, dance, theater, visual, etc.) can open minds and hearts, and fuel critical thinking.  I also think art is a unifier.  Like food, people of diverse backgrounds can come together to appreciate or collaborate on it.  Lastly, it gives people a positive, creative outlet to express themselves instead of doing things that may be destructive.  In all, art can help promote peace.
Who inspires you to give?:
My parents. My mentors.  My heroes. They gave their time, money, and energy, set good examples of giving for a greater good, and opened up doors for me to succeed. It inspires me to do the same for others as well.
What motivates you to give?:
I’m motivated by the desire to make an impact. In college, I had a realization that I didn’t want to just graduate, spend my years making money and accumulating things for myself, and then drop dead. To me, a giving life – whether through giving resources, talents, or time – is a much more fulfilling and meaningful life.
How do you give of your time?:
I enjoy finding creative ways to give.  As a dance teacher, I partnered with DJs to organize dance parties for charity.  The dance lesson drew in a large crowd, and the cover and class fees went to local charities in the DC area.  I also enjoy running in charity races because it’s a fun, healthy way to donate to a cause and raise awareness for others to give as well.
If you could start your own charity, what would it be?:
It would be a charity that would give junior high school or high school kids an opportunity to learn and experience a different culture than their own.  It may involve having them travel and live with a host family or it can be for them to work on an arts or service project in an area outside their comfort zone.
What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:
Start with the things that make you tick.  Ask yourself, “what are the things that I really want to see change in the community or world?”  It could be anything – such as wanting to live in a cleaner environment, or a safer community, or address a health issue.  Whatever it is, think about how you can donate your money, time, or talents to contribute to that change.  Think about the organizations that are already working on those causes and get involved, or start your own project.



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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