Leah Carr

When giving, you have to remember that most of these charities are doing their best with the resources they have and you have to be patient.

Location: Toronto, Canada

Profession: I work with Technology CEOs and senior Executives at AceTech Ontario which is an organization dedicated to helping Ontario’s technology-based companies grow. As this is a small company, I wear multiple hats, but my main focus is business development, sales, relationships, marketing & public relations.

Twitter Handle: @leahjcarr

What was the first gift you ever gave?:

When I was young my grandmother used to put on fundraisers for the dysautonomia foundation and my mom used to take me. I remember always being the only kid there and my mom used to let me buy a toy where the proceeds would go to the cause. If we are speaking about a financial donation with my own money, I think the first gift I ever gave (that wasn’t purchasing a ticket to a fundraiser) was likely to UJA when I started leading Taglit-Birthright Israel: Canadian Israel Experience trips.

What is your charity of choice?:

One thing that is important to me in giving both time and money is focus. There are so many good causes out there, but we each have only so much time and money so I believe to make the biggest impact, we must focus on those closest to our hearts. For me, it is the following three:

  1. UJA: I have had many roles within UJA Federation of Greater Toronto over the last eight years, starting with leading a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip and now chairing the Young Business Cabinet as part of UJA’s Young Leadership. I think UJA is the most important organization for any Jewish person to be involved with as they build and sustain our community at home and in Israel. Keeping our community strong is very important, and this is the most important organization if you want to contribute to that strength.
  2. The Kidney Foundation of Canada: This past March I donated a Kidney to my mom. Through that experience I have learned that 1 in 10 people are affected by kidney disease. For that reason, and my family’s personal connection, this is an important cause to me.
  3. Israel Cancer Research Fund: Cancer is the worst. Everyone knows that. It affects WAY too many people young and old. I choose to give time and money to Israel Cancer Research Fund for two reasons. The first is that I believe Israelis have one of the best chances of making breakthroughs in the field. As well, Israel Cancer Research Fund provides grants that go directly to research and not anything administrative.

Who inspires you to give?:

My original inspiration came from my grandparents. Some of my first memories are of my grandfather volunteering with the REENA Foundation or bringing breakfast to kids at schools in underprivileged areas and my grandmother chairing multiple committees. While they will always be my main source of inspiration, I am very inspired by the other people around me who volunteer their time. I have been extremely inspired by this year’s UJA Young Business committee especially my co-chair who has been an extra special motivation. I think Toronto is a very inspiring place to be for a volunteer as there are so many amazing and generous people around.

What motivates you to give?:

I am motivated to give by the belief that everyone is responsible for taking care of the communities they are a part of. I believe most of us have time and money to give and that we should each do that. These are things I learned not just from my grandparents, but from my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and my entire family. I was raised to give and I hope to raise my family believing the same thing.

How do you give of your time?:

I sit on a couple of boards, but I like to give my time in ways that have impact, building and implementing strategies. I like to help charities grow in number of people involved and dollar amount raised. For instance, when my co-chair and I were asked to chair UJA Young Business for a second year, we agreed, but with a plan to make it something bigger. More engaging for our committee and more beneficial to the organization. We went from a committee of 15 people planning one event and raising minimal dollars to a committee of over 60 people, planning three events and raising more than double what was raised last year. We are now the largest Young Division in history and have raised to most money any Young division has ever raised.

What advice do you have for others to consider giving?

The most important piece of advice I have is that you can’t and shouldn’t get annoyed with charities. I see it happen all the time, and it makes me really sad. People have a bad experience with a staff person, someone being unorganized or whatever sets them off and they decide to no longer donate their time or money. When giving, you have to remember that most of these charities are doing their best with the resources they have and you have to be patient. These causes are important and it isn’t okay to cut-off a charity – that isn’t helping anyone.

After that, I would say that it is important to make sure you give to causes you feel connected to or passionate about. Giving should be a positive experience for you and the charity. Follow through is especially important when a charity is relying on you and you are more likely to follow through on things you actually want to do. So before getting involved, do your research. Make sure you like the role you are committing to and/or that you are comfortable with how your money is being spent.

Finally, it is not only okay, but should also be expected when volunteering time that you will get something in return whether it is networking, experience, fun or whatever you are looking for volunteering can be about so much more than just giving back.


Lauren Shoolman


Lauren is a development professional with five years of experience in Canada and the United States in individual and institutional giving, and special events. She is an Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA) Fellow, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in New York, and has been invited to deliver guest lectures at St. Lawrence University, NY, on fundraising. Lauren holds a BA Specialized Honors in Marketing and a Certificate in Management from York University, Canada.

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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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