Challenge traditional philanthropy…Invest in solutions that you believe in…
Location: New York, New York
Profession: Senior Associate, Social Investment Council at Echoing Green
Twitter Handle: @kdahayes
What was the first charitable gift you ever gave?:
Giving was something that I was encouraged to do at a very young age. I remember when I was about 10, I helped my mom run the Christmas Giving Tree Program at our church. I saved my allowance to buy a toy for a child in need, and then I helped manage the process of sorting the toys before they were given to the families. It was one of the first experiences that showed me how important it is to give not only your money, but also your time and your talent (I also learned that I had great volunteer management skills!).
What is your charity of choice?:
At the risk of sounding biased, it is absolutely Echoing Green. When I was in college, I spent several years volunteering on a mobile health care clinic in Boston, called The Family Van. I came to find out that the organization, which provided me with one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, was founded through an Echoing Green Fellowship. That Echoing Green Fellow happened to be Cheryl Dorsey, who is now the President of the organization. I had followed the organization for many years before I pursued the position that I am now in, and the organization continues to inspire and motivate me every day.
Who inspires you to give?:
Each day I have the unique opportunity to work with emerging business leaders who give both financially and through skills-based volunteering. I also work closely with social entrepreneurs who are extremely passionate about the work they do every day. Being at the intersection of the social sector and private sector allows me to get to know individuals who give in very different, but equally important ways, and each of them inspires me to give.
What motivates you to give?:
I think that there are a lot of deeply entrenched problems in the world, and very few solutions. I am motivated to give by those who are innovating and disrupting systems to make change happen. I think it is critically important for each sector to work together, and learn to understand each other, and then give as fully and completely in every way that they can. When I see a solution that does successfully disrupt a system and helps a significant number of people, I am reinvigorated in my motivation to give.
How do you give of your time?:
I currently am the chair of the Young Alumni Committee and sit on the Executive Committee of the Northfield Mount Hermon School. I attribute so much of who I am to the school, whose mission includes educating the head, the heart, and the hand, so I enjoy giving back through investing my time. I have also spent a significant amount of time mentoring and teaching, and find those experiences to be very rewarding.
What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:
Challenge traditional philanthropy. One of the reasons I am so passionate about Echoing Green is that we fund at a very early stage. Many funders expect organizations and missions to check boxes that fit their criteria, and organizations often change their programs to get those dollars. Further, philanthropists often want to see metrics and outcomes, which while extremely important, might not be the best indicators of success at an early stage. Invest in solutions that you believe in. Remember that while giving time is extremely important, giving financially is equally important. Make it your mindset to give as much as you can and as often as you can. Finally, one of the most important giving lessons my mom gave me is simple—give that $1 to someone on the street who asks for it. We often make many judgments about the situations that people are in, but sometimes a simple acknowledgement and a smile can make all the difference in a life. I promise it will also make you smile.