“Living well has at least two parts to it: living a life that makes you happy, and living a life that is of service to others…To find an activity truly fulfilling, you must both take pleasure in it and feel a strong sense of connection between it and a larger purpose for your life.”
~ Christopher Eisgruber, President of Princeton, referencing the work of Kwame Appiah, in his welcome address to the incoming class of 2017 on September 8, 2013.
This blog is going to be a departure from my usual financial or investment discussions. Instead, I want to talk about something even more important, something that has been integral to my life since I was a child, and something that has become more even imperative over the past few years.
Living a life that is of service to others, as Mr. Eisgruber cites above, is one of the best pieces of investment advice I can give you. It is a very powerful phrase, and one I take to heart. As some of you may know, I am honored to serve on the Board of the Food Bank for Westchester #FB4W. I say honored because I truly believe that I’ve been very fortunate in my life and I feel a powerful imperative to give back to those members of our community who haven’t shared the same blessings.
Hopefully some of you also know that September is Hunger Action month #HungerAction. Last week I had the good fortune to participate in the press conference that formally kicked-off our efforts to raise awareness of the pervasive problem of hunger in Westchester, and the rest of the country #GoOrange. As I was writing my speech it again hit home to me how important it is that I can do whatever I can, both with my money and my time, to make a difference in my community.
I can tell you from personal experience that the act of giving is incredibly powerful and life affirming. There is so much need in the world that it can be hard to know how to start. So I recommend that rather than focus on the enormity of the problems, think instead how you can help one single person. You can serve a meal, help build a house, provide a mosquito net, teach someone to read, mentor a child, dig a well, etc. The ways in which you can help someone are limited only by your time and imagination. When you put philanthropy in those terms, it becomes much easier to see how the efforts of one person can make a real difference in the life of someone in need.
If you are inclined to make a donation, you can enjoy the tax benefit of that contribution. Recent tax laws enable giving directly from a retirement plan, which also has great tax implications. Please discuss this with your tax professional before doing anything.
Whatever you decide, I urge you to do something today. Pick your favorite charity and send them some money today. Then try to make philanthropy a core part of your life. And make sure to talk to your children about what you’re doing, and try to involve them as much as you can so that it becomes part of their lives. The time is now to begin living a life in service to others. #GiveBack.