Three inspirational people addressed a JCA event last night and spoke about the organisations and causes that they are passionate about. They live and breathe the work they do.
Ondine Sherman from Voiceless, Richard Lubner from Afrika Tikkun and Ron Delezio from Day of Difference discussed philanthropy with JCA’s Peter Ivany AM – pointing out that while it’s necessary for a strategic and businesslike approach to supporting an organisation, at the end of the day, it’s a life changing experience for everyone involved.
Ron Delezio in particular is aware of how a life changing experience can tilt your world on its axis. Ron’s daughter Sophie has lived through two horrific accidents, motivating him through Day of Difference Foundation to provide support services to families of critically injured kids. His message is simple – a quote from the great Sir Winston Churchill – “Sometimes it is not good enough to do your best. Sometimes you need to go that little bit further.”
Similarly when asked why his passion was for children in South Africa as opposed to more localised causes, Richard responded that one can’t place the importance of a life of one child above that of another, regardless of whether they are located in Africa, India, Afganistan or Australia.
Ondine said that her work at Voiceless is to raise an awareness of animal rights and start a change in thought process when people eat meat – not to move them to become vegans or vegatarians but to be conscious of the quality of life of those animals and ensure their humane treatment before they land on their plate.
From personal experience, I know how easy it is to get bogged down in the day to day activities of running a not for profit organisation and forget that the ultimate objective of JCA, like all other charities, is simply to help others. It was inspiring to listen to others who have an enormous challenge and yet are still able to quietly keep putting one foot in front of the other and make a difference, one person at a time, or one animal at a time, or one sick child at a time.
It comes down to definition of what philanthropy is. Despite coming from different backgrounds, this is something Ron, Richard and Ondine had no problems in defining.
Philanthropy is a passion. It’s seeing a need and doing something to fill that need.
Philanthropy is a choice. It’s a strong sense of wanting to make the world a better place.
Philanthropy is respect. It’s seeing something wrong that others around you others don’t seem to see and feeling a sense of responsibility to make it right.
Philanthropy is asking yourself are you comfortable with things the way they are and tapping into a level of consciousness to stimulate happiness in yourself and others.
Philanthropy is a return on investment. It’s being committed to making your endeavours successful and being accountable to your donors who are just as important as business investors. You are as responsible to them as you are to someone you are doing business with on a commercial level.
Ultimately philanthropy is the process of reshaping lives. It is the symbiotic relationship of how what you do irrevocably changes someone else’s life for the better and the impact your connection to them irrevocably changes you.
As Ron Delezio articulated, the joy you receive when you realise the happiness you’ve given to others is a high that can become an addiction. It changes the way you operate and the activities you undertake to get that great feeling that contributes to your own wellbeing.
Richard spoke about a recent documentary he had watched on the chemical reaction that takes place in the brain when a person gives. In a study undertaken at Harvard Business School, it confirmed that giving makes you feel good.
We, at JCA, acknowledge that our mission is three fold – to foster a sense of social connectedness to the community, to make a difference and to ensure that going forward we move in line with future trends to remain connected to the next generation.
Some say love is like a drug. Given all the personal benefits all I can say is: love move over, giving should be the drug of choice.
Ian Sandler is the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Communal Appeal