Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do Your Giving While You Are Still Living: Edie Fraser and Robyn Spizman Reach Out

I love the title of this new book by Washington, DC activist / philanthropist Edie Fraser and TV journalist Robyn Spizman. Not only is it a great message to send our kids, it’s a message that parents need to hear — especially in this time of economic uncertainty when more people are hoarding what they have, out of fear for the future.

“We believe the most important word in our vocabulary is love,” the authors write in the introduction. “We’re talking about the kind of love that opens our hearts to others and expects nothing in return. It inspires us to do kind and caring things even when no one is watching.”

It is that belief that inspired these two truly amazing women to give 66 leaders of some of the country’s most influential nonprofit organizations the opportunity to talk about the benefits of giving.

They include some well-known personalities such as the executive director of the Oprah Winfrey Foundations Caren Yanis, renowned musician and philanthropist Dionne Warwick, and chairman of the National Council of Negro Women Dr. Dorothy Height.

Other chapters are written by the heads of some lesser-known nonprofit organizations, such as the Gail Heyman of the National Fragile X Foundation and Terry Baugh of the DC-based organization Kidsave.

On page 204 Baugh’s partner and co-founder Randi Thompson writes: “When you ask someone if they can help the 33 million kids in the world living without families, they can’t imagine what they can do. But when you talk about the possibility of reaching out to one orphan or foster child, it’s a very different story.”

That idea captures the essence of this 289-page book, which strives to teach and encourage everyone to open their hearts and give what they can.

In fact, the book’s publisher David Hancock of Morgan James Publishing has made a commitment to donate a percentage of book sales each month to one of his favorite organizations, Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat for Humanity is changing lives,” Hancock writes in the book. “Working in partnership with low-income families to build decent homes they can afford to buy, Habitat helps to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. So we place its logo on the back and inside of our books and give a small library of books to the new homeowners. In addition to generating funds, we are raising awareness of Habitat’s critically important work.”

The authors hope more companies reach out in similarly profound ways.

“Whether in your community or around the world, choose one or more actions that make a difference,” says co-author Spizman, one of the country’s leading gift experts who is often featured on NBCs The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, and The Discovery Channel, among others. “Continue to search for meaningful ways to connect to causes that matter. Consider what you can do and inspire yourself and others as giving of our time, talents and treasures has never been more critical."

To buy the book, visit: www.doyourgiving.com.

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