By Henry Berman, ASF
Teachers talk about star pupils. Business executives about mentors. Athletes about coaches. We all have people, or perhaps events, in our lives that inspire or motivate us.
Sometimes the source is crystal clear and easy to recognize. Other times it may be more subtle. Often we look into our past for motivation. For example, we remember the high school teacher or coach who went that extra mile for us and in doing so helped us recognize our own potential. Yet other times the inspiration is found right before us, staring us in the face. The recent Olympic Games certainly provided many moments which left me, and I venture many of you, moved and inspired.
In the introduction to her book, Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, and educator Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen talks about what inspired her to help make the world a better place. Speaking in the first person Laura wrote:
“[My] own first inspiration came from my family, and in particular my mother. Frances Arrillaga was my best friend, my mentor, my soul mate. In her living, she inspired me, and in her dying, she showed me a new life path. I took the tragedy of losing her and transformed it into my life’s greatest blessing—my giving.”
All of this has me wondering about what motivates my philanthropy, my giving — whether as a foundation trustee or personally.
As I thought about Laura’s words I realized that for me, there are several sources of inspiration. Like Laura, my mother, indeed both my parents, inspired me. They also encouraged and mentored me. I also had teachers, co-workers, and friends that have influenced my giving.
Indeed most ASF members I get to meet have compelling stories and passions that make me want to be a better philanthropist. You might say they inspire me, although they often tell me that ASF inspires them. Therein lay the magic! Inspiration begets inspiration!
Later in her book Laura writes “. . . that many of the gifts of which I was most proud were those that inspired, informed, and empowered other donors.” Like Laura I enjoy, and am motivated, when I can inspire others, even as they do the same to me.
What about you? What makes you tick? Who has influenced, inspired, and motivated you?
I first met Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen two summers ago and was, dare I say it, inspired by her enthusiasm for philanthropy, willingness to share ideas, and thoughtfulness. I’m delighted she will be with us as a plenary speaker at our 2012 National Conference next month in San Francisco. Learn more about her at www.giving2.com.
Henry Berman became ASF’s CEO in 2011, previously serving as acting CEO, board member, and committee member. Through his experience as a foundation co-trustee and ASF member since 2003, he brings a firsthand understanding of the needs of ASF members to his role. Berman’s early career included positions as an independent communications consultant and director, writer, and producer of film, video, and multimedia programs for education, motivation, and fundraising.