Tami Reiss


Recently, I gave the largest amount I’ve ever donated to a campaign to help Isidore Electronics Recycling, a social enterprise in Los Angeles expand their capacity for business with an industrial truck. They give ex-convicts jobs where they can learn marketable skills and begin acclimating to non-prison life.

Location: New York, New York

Profession: CEO, CyrusInnovation

Twitter: @tamireiss

What was the first philanthropic gift you ever gave?:

It was $2,000 to UCP Wheels For Humanity. ​I had volunteered for a few years and loved that they brought wheelchairs to people in need in third world countries. By providing mobility to children not only do they give a child a way to get around and experience the world, but also an opportunity for their care giver to get a job.

Tell us about your role giving back.:

Normally I volunteer for causes I care about and eventually I take a leadership role in the organization, and then I give money once I learn how they spend it and who’s in charge.

Can you share an example of one organization where you have taken on a leadership role and what that means to you. ​

I have several examples, including UCLA Hillel, UCP, Hazon, UJA, PresentTense, IKAR, homeless shelters and many others.

I’m initially attracted to the volunteering because it allows me to give back. I often see opportunities for my business skills to be leveraged on leadership teams and that’s why I get more involved. I’m better used to run volunteer squads than do any particular task.

Who inspires you to give?:

My parents have always been very philanthropic and are great role models to me and my sisters in that way. Personally, I feel fortunate to have extra income and I figure if I can go on vacations, eat at fancy restaurants, and live in a nice apartment, I should also be able to give something back to my community. Otherwise, I’d feel too selfish.

Can you share a specific story of impact?:

Recently, I gave the largest amount I’ve ever donated to a campaign to help Isidore Electronics Recycling, a social enterprise in Los Angeles expand their capacity for business with an industrial truck. The organization is run by an old acquaintance of mine and is giving ex-convicts jobs where they can learn marketable skills and begin acclimating to non-prison life. The donation amount wasn’t huge in comparison to bigger non-profits, but it made a big impact to them. It was part of a indiegogo campaign and my reward is that they are naming their mini-museum after me. I think that’s pretty sweet to be a 33 year old who endowed a museum, no matter how small it is.

What inspires you about how the tech community gives back or has the potential to give back?​ 

The tech community tends to focus more on investing time based on our skills when we give back. A big reason why we are involved in tech is that we see inefficiencies in the world that technology can improve. We’d prefer to make the organizations more effective than only write a check. Often tech people will give money and their time.



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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