October 26, 2011
Nov. 9: Explore Generosity! Bolder Giving Reception in Cambridge, MA

Join a celebration of Bolder Giving in Cambridge on November 9!



In 2009 Christopher and Anne Ellinger, founders of Bolder Giving — a donor education project that inspires greater giving by offering tools, sharing stories and building a community of donors —  gave me a Workbook they had lovingly prepared to help individuals explore the outer limits of their generosity.  Examing several dimensions of giving outlined in the book, I realized I had more resources than I had imagined at my disposal to change the world — not just money, but relationships, and time, and passion.


I discovered using life-time asset calculations in the workbook that my husband and I could “give more” than the 2-3% of annual income typically donated by Americans, and pay out more than the typical 5% grant allocation by foundations.  We could “risk more” by using our investments to achieve a social mission, at the danger of earning only slightly diminished financial returns.  I could “inspire more” by steppping out publicly as a donor, helping to make it acceptable for others to give big and bravely for less than traditional causes, regardless of income level.  I quietly signed the Give Half Pledge in my Workbook to put myself on the line to stretch more for the causes I cared about. 


That personal commitment preceded by just a few months the monstrous 2010 earthquake in Haiti.   With that inner soul-searching behind me, it was a “no-brainer” to spontaneously conceive with Jim and the Boston Foundation a proposal to issue a $1 million matching grant for Haiti.  We would invite the people of Greater Boston to join our family in responding with “smart mercy” and a generosity of spirit to the worst natural disaster of our lifetimes.  That gesture turned our lives upside down!


Frankly, million dollar gifts are fairly commonplace, even in this wrenching economy, and so, we were rather baffled by the attention we received.  That was the hardest part by far of this gesture of solidarity with Haiti.  I have come to understand that the size of the gift is not what matters, but rather the boldness of the invitation to others to give with you.


Bolder Giving’s Give Half Pledge was indeed the foundation for what became the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation, a $2.5 million and growing fund directed at grantmaking over five years for the long-term reconstruction of Haiti and empowerment of her people.    It has opened the door to the most extraordinary adventure of my life — a humbling partnership with stunningly capable and committed Haitian American leaders who are re-envisioning and re-creating their homeland at the service of the citizens of Haiti.  This adventure has been both exhilirating and utterly exhausting.  Being public with the fund and engaging in ongoing fundraising and grantmaking has often been uncomfortable.  But the rewards of creating a community of generosity, compassion and justice are so worth it — and the greatest privilege I have ever known. 


Please join me to learn more about Bolder Giving from 6:30-8:30 on November 9 at a private home in Cambridge!  For more information, location, and to RSVP write thai@boldergiving.org.


For a copy of the Workbook, see:  http://boldergiving.org/publications.php


For more about the Pledge*  (for people of all income levels) to give at least half of your income, profits or net worth in your lifetime or estate plan see:  http://boldergiving.org/pledge.php 


*“People of all financial levels have taken the Bolder Giving’s Give Half Pledge, which was part of the inspiration behind the Billionaire’s Pledge.  Anyone can sign who commits to give 50% or more of their income or business profits (for at least the next three years), or commits to give 50% or more of their net worth (in their lifetime or estate plan), or has given at those levels in the past.”