Experimenting Philanthropy

In my junior year at Brooks, I began to develop my own voice, outside the classroom and in the real world, as I worked toward understanding and supporting a philanthropic cause. I decided to take a course Experimenting in Philanthropy believing whole-heartedly that it would follow my passion and skills. In this course I needed to convince people of the need that an organizations had to persuade people to believe in me. Throughout the course, I met and listened to nonprofit founders and executives, many of whom are Brooks School parents and members of the Board. Toward the end of the course, I was given the task to represent an organization that I felt passionate about. I was given the role of executive director to convince potential funders of the strength of my cause and the need of my organization, for consideration of funding. My objective was to win the largest grant of $3,000 for my selected nonprofit organization. In order for me to fill the shoes of these businessmen and women and receive the largest award, I needed to exhibit confidence, personality, persuasion, and breadth of knowledge concerning my organization. I was in direct competition with my classmates. I needed to outperform them and make an impact with my knowledge and passion. I knew there was risk in putting myself in front of a panel of adults well versed in nonprofit management and ask them to question my passion, to challenge my opinion, and potentially criticize my beliefs. I was challenged by this daunting task when I first thought about it. I was truly stretching myself in a way I have never before. This pitch was a simulation of a real business presentation instead of a classroom exercise. Throughout my life, confidence has not been an issue. I exude tenacity in everything I do. Whether in sports or school, I am confident in my words and actions in social situations because I believe in my opinions. Over the years, soccer has increased my confidence through teamwork, awards, and even scoring goals; my character has developed into a self-assured, high-energy, and resilient person. As this presentation loomed over my head, my nerves began to build because the fear of being unprepared and not well versed seemed foreign to me. I was no longer in a classroom, rather in a boardroom setting. My efforts no longer were recorded in a grade book and the results will affect real people who need a helping hand. The organization I pitched was Cor Unum, a food pantry in Lawrence, Massachusetts. During my preparation for the presentation, I had the privilege to speak with a teacher at an elementary school in Lawrence. She shared that one of her students told her how his mother had taken him out to a fancy restaurant for his birthday dinner. This young child was blissfully unaware that the restaurant he attended on his birthday was Cor Unum, which is a food pantry that is based on dignity, not a fancy restaurant. My passion for the mission of Cor Unum grew with this story and gave me increased motivation to secure the largest grant. As I began my presentation and shook the hands of the panel of judges, my stress began to build. I questioned if I had done everything possible to craft a pitch that was worthy of the cause. I wanted these judges to feel my passion and develop their own love for Cor Unum. I spoke freely about my nonprofit and its work. As the words left my mouth, my nerves disappeared. I was confident in my argument. My exuberant personality seemed to draw in the attention of each member on the panel. All eyes were on me, and I felt an incredible sense of pride in my work. Leaving the room, I knew that they believed every word I said. The results assured my work as I had been awarded the $3,000 grant for Cor Unum. Through this experience, I better understand how to succeed: I must convince others to believe in me through determination, persistence, and confidence. I believed in everything I chose to campaign for and my passion made others want to support my efforts. I have developed another piece of my identity that I will bring with me as I seek success through a job I have a passion for or a future experience.