Using Philanthropy to Create a Lasting Impact in Our Lifetime
Some say that it’s more challenging to effectively donate money than to earn it. I agree. It’s a no-brainer to choose the nonprofit organizations you support based on your personal acquaintances or social affiliations, but real impact can only be achieved by creating a strategic philanthropic plan and being willing to implement it.
There have been few experiences in my life more rewarding or meaningful than becoming an active philanthropist.
After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, fighting in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, I arrived in America in 1981 with my wife Gila and two daughters. I worked hard to attain success in my business of investing and operating commercial real estate properties.
As my success in business grew, I adopted the principle of donating one-tenth of my earnings to charity, but I quickly found out that philanthropy works the other way around; whatever I gave, God found mysterious ways to reward me 10 times more.
Over the past 20 years, Gila and I became affiliated with dozens of new nonprofits every year, discovering their unique advantages and special value propositions. We established the Milstein Family Foundation, through which we have funded hundreds of organizations that support the State of Israel, advance the U.S.-Israel alliance, and fight antisemitism.
Whenever I saw an opportunity to advance an important cause I did not hesitate to roll up my sleeves and create a new program or form a new organization. For example, in 2007, I co-founded the Israeli-American Council (IAC), which is now the largest and most influential Israeli-American organization in America.
More recently, in 2017, I created the Impact Forum, a Los Angeles-based network of philanthropists who meet with and support a network of exceptionally effective small- to medium-size nonprofit organizations in the pro-Israel space.
Being involved with many organizations gives me greater leverage to amplify my impact. I facilitate synergies and collaborations between organizations, learn which groups are effective and which are not, and create connections with a vast network of people.
I’ve come to realize that there are three main approaches to major philanthropy: “specific philanthropy,” “social club philanthropy,” and “strategic impact philanthropy.”
In specific philanthropy, the donor gives to better the lives of specific members of his/her community and issues close to their hearts. The focus is on the personal trust and connections the philanthropist has with the grantees or with the cause.
In social club philanthropy, the benefactor gives to be part of a social or a business group of other like-minded, wealthy, and influential people. The moment the philanthropists exit their social club, the interest in supporting the group and its related issues die.
Strategic impact philanthropy, which I personally practice, requires not only financial giving to a network of nonprofit organizations, but also the investment of time, experience, vision, and personal connections.
To make sure my philanthropy has a high return on investment, I personally help the organizations by providing advice based on my experience and making use of my extensive network to help their causes.
Gila and I have seen firsthand how strategic impact philanthropy makes a significant, nationwide impact. We see the results within our lifetime and are able to leave an enduring legacy to our children, grandchildren, and community.
I invite my fellow major philanthropists and philanthropists-to-be to join me in becoming a strategic impact philanthropist. It requires more than just “putting your money where your mouth is” but the return is beyond imaginable. Nothing of lasting impact can be achieved in our lifetime without your own blood, sweat, and tears.
Adam Milstein is an active philanthropist and co-founder of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. To learn more about how you can become an active philanthropist and make an impact in your lifetime contact Adam Milstein at: email@example.com.