Pascal Finette


The insanely amazing entrepreneurs I get the chance to work with. Seeing what they do, how they overcome obstacle after obstacle and succeed against all odds – driven by their deep desire of making a dent – is a blessing and privilege.

Location: San Francisco, California

Twitter Handle@pfinette

What was the first philanthropic gift you ever gave:
Gosh – truth be told: I have no idea. I was always very engaged in my local community, helping people out, rallying people together for good causes. But for the life of me I can’t pin this down to a single, defining moment.

Tell us about your role giving back.
I have the great fortune to be able to give back in multiple capacities: As the VP SU Labs at Singularity University I work for an organization with the stated mission of “inspiring, educating and empowering leaders to apply exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges.” At SU Labs we mentor and support entrepreneurs and startups which leverage advanced technologies to solve some of the most intractable problems in the planet. In addition to my day job I help my wife Jane to run The Coaching Fellowship – a non-profit which provides pro-bono executive coaching for young women leaders in impact. And I mentor and advise numerous startups in the impact space. All in all I keep myself busy…

What and Who inspires you to give?
The insanely amazing entrepreneurs I get the chance to work with. Seeing what they do, how they overcome obstacle after obstacle and succeed against all odds – driven by their deep desire of making a dent – is a blessing and privilege.

Can you share a specific story of impact:
For a while now I work with the founder of the nonprofit company Nexleaf. Nexleaf produces a connected temperature sensor which, when attached to a vaccine fridge, tackles the problem that an estimated 20-30% of vaccines in the developing world spoil due to a break in the cold chain. My role is mostly to challenge the founder, Nithya Ramanathan, to think and act big(ger). She’s incredibly receptive to new ideas and different points of view, processes them insanely fast and always comes back with something which exceeds my original expectations. Her product is now in six countries, literally saving the lives of millions of people.

What would you say to encourage others to find a philanthropic passion?
Spend some time figuring out what really gets you motivated. For some this is boots-on-the-ground work for a specific cause, for others this is higher level systems-thinking (and anything in-between). Try a few things out to get a feel for what drives you and what you feel most passionate about. Talk to as many other people in the field as possible – I always find these conversations incredibly energizing and insightful. And then dig in…

What is your involvement with Mentor for Good? (I see it on your LinkedIn)
My wife Jane and I founded Mentor for Good after we both spent quite a bit of time working with entrepreneurs and startups in the impact space individually and on a one-off basis. We wanted to bring these efforts under a common umbrella, give it a face and create some structure which makes it more scalable. Thus Mentor for Good was born.

Might you be able to share anything from your past work at Google.org to add to the story? Perhaps what is was like to be part of a large corporation’s focus on philanthropy?
Google.org is an amazing organization – where else do you have a substantial grant budget, the resources of the largest technology company in the world and a mandate to address the most intractable problems on the planet. What was interesting for me to see was the challenge you have in finding projects which truly have the potential to scale. There is a fundamental difference between doing something and doing something which scales. It’s tough.


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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