If you are reading this blog, chances are that you have received more than a handful of letters and email messages asking for charitable support during this holiday season. Between the posts, texts, personalized address labels, calendars and miscellaneous mailings, it’s hard to choose where your dollars can truly have an impact.
Yet, everything you do can make a positive difference on the future.
For instance, it’s awe-inspiring to know that, over the past 30 years, global poverty has declined by between 30 percent to 50 percent. Through the collective and collaborative effort of countless people, the United Nations may indeed achieve its Millenium Development Goal of eradicating poverty by 2030.
Whether you are supporting educational advancement, sustaining disaster recovery, contributing to medical research, helping arts and culture flourish or making our region more environmentally and economically resilient, you have the amazing power to change and enrich lives.
Whether you are giving your time, expertise or financial support, many others will benefit from the thoughtful attention you devote and the unselfish actions you take.
Learning to Give
During this season of giving, I invite you to think about when you first realized your capacity for philanthropy.
My introduction was in junior high – although I certainly didn’t know what philanthropy was at the time!
As some of you may recall, UNICEF used to supply schools with small cartons or cans before Halloween to give to older kids who had outgrown trick-or-treating. Tweens and teens would go door-to-door in their neighborhoods collecting coins instead of candy to support UNICEF’s global fundraising campaigns.
I recall this experience as exhilarating for several reasons.
First, by this time, our family was living in our own home. My sister and I had grown up in tiny servants’ quarters within the large home of a wealthy family; the kitchen where my mother cooked and cleaned was our living room, family room and study hall. Thus, living and going to school in our own neighborhood, not someone else’s, was new.
Also unprecedented was the courage to knock on neighbors’ doors and ask for contributions, even though I was bolstered by a small cohort of friends who were chronically shy and awkward like me.
Nonetheless, what was most impactful was the knowledge that the pennies and dimes that I put into that can or carton myself were just as capable of feeding a starving child or protecting a family from disease, as the coins from adults – and that the desire to do good could reach that child or family wherever they lived in the world.
At the same time, I reflect on my experience as a beneficiary of philanthropy.
My sister and I were the first generation in our family to attend college. This was only possible through the generosity of our parents’ long-time employers and friends and the accessibility of scholarships and fellowships at the universities we attended.
I am therefore particularly grateful and proud that The San Diego Foundation 2018 #GivingTuesday campaign is focused on college-bound and enrolled students with financial need.
Young People in the Lead
Today there are so many examples of children and young people having an enormous impact on the welfare of our cities, our country and the world.
Instead of just collecting coins, these young champions are changing legislative policy, starting nonprofits to care for the homeless, reducing illiteracy, or combating human trafficking and child marriage. Several of my favorite examples are these 2018 National Gold Award Girl Scouts, who have earned both the highest recognition in Girl Scouting and public prominence.
These youthful role models teach us that, at any age, all of us can strive to do even more.
From all of us at The San Diego Foundation, may your holidays be filled with grace and gratitude! Our deepest thanks for the many ways you demonstrate your care, compassion and generosity.
About Connie Matsui
Interim CEO Connie Matsui’s primary interest is in social innovation and entrepreneurship. During her 32-year corporate career, she held various general management positions at Biogen Idec, IDEC Pharmaceuticals and Wells Fargo Bank. Connie has been an active volunteer and board member for a number of nonprofit organizations, including Girl Scouts of the USA and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.