Episode 8: Host Jenn Klein, Lessons Learned

In this episode, I unpack what I’ve learned from our first six guests. Hearing their stories have moved me to tears, confirmed some of the lessons I’ve learned in my fundraising career, and sparked new insights on philanthropy I hadn’t previously understood. Each guest brought a unique perspective that generated value to our society because of their insights into the volunteer work they have done, as well as encouraging us to continue to do more. If you’ve missed a few episodes, this will get you caught up some of what we’ve learned. And, I want to hear from you to join our community, go here to fill out your questions and sights.

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Host Bio

Jenn Klein is a self-proclaimed philanthropist, mother of two boys, and Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). She has committed her 15 years of fundraising experience and personal time to nonprofits that offer a variety of services. Her career has taken her throughout Asia several times, dining with billionaires, and raising millions of dollars. Personally, she role-models giving back to her two young boys through the creation of a community farm in her town, gathering cans several times a year from her neighbors, participating in her children’s schools, and more. To learn more about Jenn, go here.

Show Notes

Denzel Washington Howard University commencement speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nauLgZISozs


JK: Welcome to the You Are a Philanthropist podcast. This is episode eight, and today I’m going to talk about how I was inspired with our guests so far.

Hello, listeners. This is me, Jenn Klein, and I’m going to talk about what I’ve learned over the last few weeks of sharing my podcast and my stories with my guests. We’ve had six guests so far, and each of them taught me something more about philanthropy. As a fundraiser who’s been fundraising for 15 years since I graduated from college, I didn’t think there was alot left that I had to learn. And yet every time I talked with our volunteers and our everyday philanthropists, I learned something new. So I want to share with you what I learned.

My first guest who inspired me is Tanya Gauthier. She is the one who told her story about her own traumatic brain injury, her recovery from that that took years, and her resilience and ability to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, despite that significant injury. What inspired me is that she started a nonprofit. And I had had the opportunity to work with Amy Tarlow-Lewis, on episode seven, with founding Littleton Community Farm. And so, I know the time and commitment that it takes to start something from scratch like that, and it’s a significant passion. As Amy described it, she created it with laughter and tears. With Tanya, she’s just getting started. She started in 2020. That’s a remarkable year to be starting anything, particularly a nonprofit.

A lot of people in the beginning of year called me up and said, “What’s happening with fundraising dollars, and are we going to be able to survive 2020?” And I said, “Don’t worry about it. People are always showing up when the times are tough.” And that’s what happened, and that’s why last year marked the greatest amount of philanthropic dollars in the history of the world. Thank you. I’m sure you were a donor in some way. And this podcast is really to inspire us to do more because giving is selfish and giving is infectious. There’s a cycle between gratitude and giving. There is a cycle between giving and receiving. I like to say, when we give in some capacity, any capacity really, it boomerangs back to us. And so, it’s this idea that, yes, we’re doing something to others, but there’s this wonderful natural altruism that happens where we feel good about that.

And someone that inspired me is Denzel Washington when he said, in a commencement speech to Howard University, “Giving is selfish.” He said, “Giving is selfish, not selfless.” And I want to play a clip right now about what he said so you really get a grasp of the meaning he puts behind what he learned.

“You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. I’ll say it again. You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. I don’t care how much money you make; you can’t take it with you. And it’s not how much you have; it’s what you do with what you have. We all have different talents. Some of you will be doctors, some lawyers, some scientists, some educators, some nurses, some teachers– yeah, okay. Some preachers. The most selfish thing you can do in this world is help someone else. Why is it selfish? Because the gratification, the goodness that comes to you– the good feeling that I get from helping others, nothing’s better than that. Not jewelry, not the big house I have, not the cars, but it’s the joy. That’s where the joy is, in helping others. That’s where the success is.”

So what I enjoyed about that commencement speech is his ability to explain that although he seemingly has it all, the thing that he values the most is all that time that he spent helping other people. And that’s what I’ve gotten– the best reward out of doing my fundraising work is the people I’ve met all over the world. I did a lot of work in Asia, traveling there three times for multiple weeks and multiple trips over a couple of years, including when I was pregnant with my first child. And there was really this opportunity to connect with people from different cultures, from different backgrounds, of all giving levels– of people who could only give their time. And I think that’s a good way for people to feel like they can give back if they don’t have the financial resources– is to give some time. And right now, during COVID, we have the opportunity to connect via Zoom. So you don’t even have to be in a relatively close proximity to people in order to get involved.

And as John Fisher said in his episode, you really create friends when you’re getting involved in your community. And Jessica Brand said that, for her, starting a cookbook club really brought together people from different backgrounds who wouldn’t normally be meeting. And Amy Tarlow-Lewis said the same thing. She said, “I wouldn’t have met all these different people, particularly me, hadn’t it been for the nonprofit.” And Sherie Schoch, when she got involved with Young Life, said “There’s no clicks in this teenage program.” And so nonprofits’ volunteer work really have the capacity to bring us all together. And I find that the messaging from the media and from the business world is that the work you do, the career– the jobs you do define you. And I don’t really see that as the answer to what we’re looking for in life. I don’t believe that focusing on myself is what makes me happy. I believe that the idea that loving your neighbor as yourself is one of our highest callings. I know from my own personal experience that the more isolated I feel, the more removed from society, I feel the worse I feel. And so leaning into my friends, old and new, and my network. It has been really valuable to my life and, listeners, I want to hear from you. I want to hear how these episodes have affected you, and what you’re thinking about what this podcast is speaking to you about. So I’d love for you to join my community, too. And I want to learn from you. And I obviously want to share with you about my passion of getting involved with nonprofits. Coming up, we’ll hear from people who don’t necessarily have a nonprofit that they’re involved with, but just do things on their own through their own communities that maybe probably goes unnoticed.

This isn’t something that we talk about all the time. We don’t talk about these hours that we put in for volunteering. Sherry is on three committees with Young Life in our last episode. And she puts in– well, she was putting in about eight hours a week before COVID hit, on three different committees, doing a variety of things, running the banquet fundraiser, doing the finance work for her local club. And MJ Tierney said she just made a friend who was selling newspapers on the street and who is housing insecure. And she has this phone number. And he calls her every day, texts her every day, and they have a relationship. I’ve been calling it everyday pleasantries.

So on my blog, you can see some articles I was posting prior to the podcast. And I talked about Together Apart, which was the theme that we were using as a society about what we were going to do about COVID. And people were just doing whatever they felt like was important to do. So if it was raising money for their friend who had lost their job or making masks accessible to health care workers or their town residents, as I shared on my blog. People were just doing whatever they felt like people needed right now. And that’s been a beautiful outcome of 2020 that I think we need to be talking about.

There’s a lot of focus on the negative, particularly politics, right. And I think that if we were to get all of my guests in a room, I know we’d have a wild discussion on politics from all sorts of political beliefs. But that’s not what matters here. What matters here is they’re all serving in ways that’s meaningful to them, in ways that’s meaningful to our communities and to the world. And so they have different religious beliefs as well, from Christian to Catholic to Jewish to agnostic. And so we don’t have to all agree in order to make a change in the world. We don’t all have to see eye to eye. We don’t have to point out each other flaws. We don’t have to focus on the hate. We need to focus on the love. I focused obviously a lot about philia love, brotherly love. That’s my favorite love. Sherry Shark focuses on agape love. That’s God’s unconditional love. And so putting love back into the world in some way is what’s key to philanthropy. John said his vision of a better world is for everybody to pursue their passions. That means you can do whatever good that you want to do that you feel is in your heart to be able to serve. Jessica Brandt, who talked about her cookbook club in her skincare line, Tasteful Skin, have put good back into the world because she has multiple passions as an entrepreneur. And she’s doing what she feels like is on her heart. And I learned from her the value of potlucks. I never thought that that was a part of philanthropy. But she showed me that when you gather people around delicious food, when you cook with love, when you share laughter and conversations around a dinner table, you’re sharing love. You’re creating a community from strangers and from people from all different backgrounds.

I’ve shared with you a little bit about other loves of mine other than just fundraising and volunteering, and that is my merchandise at my store, which I believe has the opportunity to allow you to feel like the difference that you make in any way matters. I love Arbon International, which helped me to become healthier through using nutrition and skincare products that are healthy and vegan and cruelty-free and non-GMO and how they help me feel better in my own body. And I love Stella & Dot, which accessorizes me to look and feel the best that I can feel, especially as a young mother. As I give to my children, that’s one of the things I loved about what MaryJudith Tierney (MJ) said it’s about how important it was for her to teach her children those 12 years as she stayed home about service. And from many of our guests, they talked about how important and influential their parents, particularly their parents in their childhood, were in creating this mindset about giving back to our society.

So listeners, my charge for you is to listen, as John Fisher said, gets started, as he said, find your passions, as he said. And as exemplified by Tanya, Jessica, MJ, John, Amy, and Sherie, pursue those passions and they come back to you. You’re going to feel the joy. You’re going to feel the connection. And you’re going to feel like you’ve really made a difference. So I want to hear from you. I want you to tell me which episode was your favorite. I want you to rate and review and subscribe to my podcast. I do have a Patreon account that is for people who want to be giving just $3 a month to get more involved with what I’m talking about and I want to be hearing your feedback. There’s a link on my website at youareaphilanthropist.com/podcast where you can fill out a form to give feedback and things that I can answer on these solo episodes that I’m doing. So I want to ask you what you want your legacy to be? I wrote in one of my blog posts that I want my obituary to say I was a philanthropist, I was a lover of mankind. I was somebody who helped people. That’s what I said to people when I graduated from college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I said, I don’t know, I just want to help people. And typically, my obituary is not going to say I was a philanthropist because I don’t have millions of dollars. But about five years ago, when I was working in my fundraising job, I decided– I had an epiphany that I am a philanthropist. I had spent my whole career giving my time to nonprofits, and what I think impresses me about people who have a lot of money to give, they can’t fulfill their missions unless people are helping them. So millions, billions of dollars don’t matter if people don’t do the work. I like to call myself a Clydesdale, not a Thoroughbred. I have never grown up with a significant amount of wealth, didn’t go to private school, didn’t go to an elite college. But I get the work done and I do whatever I can.

One of my favorite quotes is from Billy Graham, and he said, “Time is the capital from God that is yours to invest.” So tell me how you’re investing in our world today, this year, what you want your 2021 to look like. It’s still early in the year. And I know that this world is very strange and very unusual. And I hope that we can look to each other for inspiration. And we can connect, in any way, and I think philanthropy, nonprofits, everyday pleasantries, and buying socially conscious products can support a better world. Here’s some more information about a business that changed my life that is philanthropic. So listeners, thank you for listening. Go to my website youareaphilanthropist.com to read past episodes, old blog posts, purchase my merchandise, and get involved with this community, You Are A Philanthropist on Patreon or Facebook or Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. I want to learn about philanthropy from you. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

COMMERCIAL: You are the kind of person who wants to improve the lives of others, but you need to take pride in your everyday actions. You Are A Philanthropist, believes that every act of goodwill deserves to be recognized as philanthropy. Each individual action you take impacts another’s life. Believe that what you do makes a difference. So call yourself a philanthropist, and start a ripple effect of generosity that boomerangs back to you. Go to youareaphilanthropist.com/shop. Style your outside to your inside. Choose a T-shirt, hoodie or bag to show how much you love giving to others. That’s youareaphilanthropist.com/shop.

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