By Sarah Swartz, Lake Ontario Region, IC 2017 Press Corps
Social action is a key component of BBYO’s philosophy, and philanthropy is a key method to create social change. It is so essential to BBYO’s mission, yet many people don't understand what philanthropy is, or why it’s important. On BBYO Leads Day, I had the opportunity to hear from Briana Holtzman, the director of JTFN (the Jewish Teen Funders Network) which gives teens across North America and Australia the resources to allocate funds to charitable organizations worldwide. She explained to us that while people associate philanthropy with wealth, you don't need to be Bill Gates to be a philanthropist. In fact, you don’t need money at all - all you need is a strong love for a cause, and a desire to share that love with others. Philanthropy is organizing people to support a cause, whether that be through marketing, event planning, or donating funds. According to Briana, there are four T’s which everyone can bring to the table - treasure, time, talent, and ties. We spent the afternoon discussing which treasures (financial resources), talents, and ties (connections to supporting organizations) we each can use to best support our favourite causes.
Then Jake Marcus, who organized Team Intestinal Fortitude to raise funds for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, spoke to us about his personal ties to this organization. In 2010, Jake’s father was diagnosed with Crohn’s, so he laced up his sneakers, joined the Boston Marathon, raised thousands of dollars for Chron’s and Colitis research. Since then, Jake has run events from dinner banquets to college sports tournaments to raise money for a foundation close to his heart. To donate to an organization, people need to feel an emotional tie to the cause, and hearing Jake’s story gave everyone in the room a personal connection to Chron’s and Colitis. He exemplified how important it is to create an emotional response for effective philanthropy. Finally, we put what we learned into practice, and in small groups designed resource collection campaigns for causes ranging from education reform to animal rights. Leads Day inspired and invigorated all of us to create change at home through philanthropy, and gave us a fresh perspective on what it mean to be a philanthropist.