Sara Weinreb

I am inspired by organizations that teach a man to fish, instead of the traditional concept of charity- giving a man a fish.

Location: New York, New York

Profession: Director of Programs and Business Development at PresenTense

Twitter Handle: @saraweinreb

What is your charity of choice?:

I have trouble with the concept of “charity,” in that I believe strongly in equipping individuals with the tools they need to improve their lives, to relieve their situation, and, most importantly, to make sustainable change. To that end I am inspired by organizations that teach a man to fish, instead of the traditional concept of charity- giving a man a fish.

For example, Warby Parker donates proceeds from each pair of glasses sold to an incredible nonprofit called Vision Spring. Vision Spring trains individuals in the developing world to give eye exams and sell glasses at a very affordable price. In this model, the individuals are able to sustain themselves by essentially becoming entrepreneurs, while working to resolve a critical issue of affordable and accessible eye care in their community. At PresenTense, we encourage (strongly!) all of our entrepreneurs to “close the donor gap” that disconnects funders from beneficiaries. To me, that’s where powerful change comes from, when individuals are empowered to take control of their own issues.

Who inspires you to give?:

My friends, family, colleagues, and strangers who are motivated to make change in the world. I am one to generally support friends and colleagues who ask me to give to their campaign to raise money for “x” cause, because I am inspired by their passion for that cause, often because of a very personal connection to that foundation, charity, or nonprofit organization. I also work with social entrepreneurs motivated to make change in the world by starting their own social ventures, and their dedication to solving the world’s most pressing issues is incredibly motivating.

What motivates you to give?:

I think giving can mean many things. I give small amounts of money– what I can afford– as often as I can by individuals who compel me to do so. I give my time on causes I personally find I can contribute something to and that I find powerful. I give my expertise on helping people live more socially responsible lives and spend my professional time working with individuals starting startups that benefit society. What motivates me at my core is the issues I see in the world, and a fundamental desire to contribute in any way I can to make this world a more kind place to humanity.

How do you give of your time?:

I volunteer at the International Rescue Committee in the New York Refugee Resettlement office. My passion for working with refugee communities stems back to my experience as a freshman at Tulane University having to evacuate for Hurricane Katrina. While I in no way was a refugee, I did have the experience, on a very safe level, of what it means to be forced from your home. My experience with Katrina, coupled with my Jewish identity of being a people consistently forced from their homes through out history, and my life-changing experience volunteering with Tibetan refugees in India led me to a deep compassion for, and desire to work with, one of the world’s most vulnerable communities. I also volunteer with the Future Project, working with youth who create “future projects” which are dreams with a deadline. It is inspiring to see high schoolers dedicated to pursuing their dreams, and an honor to play a small part in helping them to do.

If you could start your own charity, what would it be?:

Where do I begin! I have new ideas every day. While I wouldn’t start a charity per se, I would love to start a social enterprise. One idea I keep returning to is a refugee community center to support individuals past their initial “emergency” services given to them when they arrive in the US. This would include cooking classes, psychological services, language classes, education, arts, and more! It would be staffed by the clients themselves, making it somewhat of a coop and sustainable model. I am an ideas person, that is just one of many things that I am considering!

What advice do you have for others to consider giving?:

Do so with intention, and great intention. Decide how much money and time you are willing to give, and do so with great focus. Question where your money is going to and if you feel that is the best place for it to go. Many organizations are very well intentioned but perhaps not efficient. Take a good look at what the organization does, who runs it, and the impact they make in the world. You are voting with your dollars! But also this idea goes well beyond money– time is one of the most valuable things you can give. Give your time in ways that make you feel inspired and that you feel you can really make a difference. There’s no better feeling then seeing real, deep impact you are able to make by way of your time or money.



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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