Noorain Khan


I helped develop a Girl Scout patch for philanthropy. It was adopted nationally to teach girls how to give and introduce them to philanthropy. We learned about the organizations, the budgets and making intentional decisions.  It informed how I thought of giving.

Location: New York, New York

What was your first memory of giving back? 

I grew up in Michigan where I participated in the Michigan Women’s Foundation. They had a program for girls to get involved in giving. As high schoolers, we were given $10,000 per year to support women and girls in the community. It was transformative to have this ridiculous amount of money to give away at a young age. We went on site visits, reviewed grant proposals and gained an understanding of programming.

What is a philanthropic organization that has had a pivotal impact on your life?

I helped develop a Girl Scout patch for philanthropy. It was adopted nationally to teach girls how to give and introduce them to philanthropy. We learned about the organizations, the budgets and making intentional decisions.  It informed how I thought of giving. $10 now does really make a difference. After 10 years as a Girl Scout, I now serve on their National Board. I give back with my skills, legal and board service are two of those. It’s deeply rewarding.

Board Service is important to you. Where else do you serve?

I’m on the boards of the Association of of American Rhodes Scholars and the Friends of the Mendela Rhodes Foundation.

I’m also on the Libraries without Borders board. They provide mobile libraries to places that have experienced humanitarian disasters. So many organizations focus on physical needs of survivors, but minds need to flourish too. We provide these incredible mobile libraries equipped with great books in local languages. The books are specially requested by community members. I got involved because a mentor and professor of mine from law school was the organization’s founder.

Who inspires your giving?

I think it’s always been a family thing for me …my parents taught me about giving. It was not like buying a table at a gala. It was part of our day to day when we visited family in Pakistan or our mosque or arts related causes important to my parents.

You recently shifted your career from law to nonprofit. What inspired the professional change?

I always wanted to make it back to a public minded government service. At my law firm I made time to be a part of the causes that mattered to me. The 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts took place in the middle of my first year as a law firm associate. I used a lot of my vacation time on that project. I realized that sustained and inspired me. I made the shift sooner than I thought I would.

What would you say to encourage others to give?

Anyone can give. My giving developed with my values and ideas about how the world should change. Community foundations are a good way to get exposed to the best work being done around you. I’m pretty involved with the New York Women’s Foundation where I can see grant making at a larger scale. It was an incredible way to really get to know the most pressing needs of the community around me and the creative work being done for and on behalf of women and girls in NYC. I think that’s one good way to understand the landscape. Follow your interests and you’ll find an organization or group of people working on them.



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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