Kinship: What It Is?
The Philanthropy revolution. The word “philanthropy” means “love of mankind”. My show is all about the ways we can open our doors and hearts so we can do more good.
Sarah: Hey guys, thanks for joining me. Sarah Lange here. For those of you who haven't met me yet, I'm a fundraising ninja. I've raised over $90 million at this point in my career and I'm here to make the world a better place. And I'm so excited today because I have my first guest and I couldn't ask for a better first guest. This is Jared. Jared, do you want to introduce yourself?
Jared: Hi, yes. My name is Jared Montes Slack. I'm a fundraiser here out of Austin, Texas. The way that I met Sarah is when I was working for a group called The Other Ones Foundation and I was their director of relationships and giving.
Sarah: Yeah. So the way I found Jared is I was watching Queer Eye season 6, which is in Austin, Texas. And I happen to have a whole bunch of friends down in Austin. And I was like, “I think they might need some fundraising help.” So I reached out to them and I was like, “Hey, you want some help?” And they were like, “We sure do.” So that's how Jared and I got connected. And I'm so grateful that we did because Jared does amazing things. And the reason I wanted to have him on as a guest today is because he does everything via relationship fundraising and also at The Other Ones Foundation, they use a model of service delivery called Kinship, which is beautiful and unique and really, really effective. So, Jared, I'm wondering if you could share the origin story of Esperanza with us.
Jared: Yeah. So here in Austin, Texas, like many large metropolitan communities all over our country and really all over the world. I don't know if those of you listening, did you know that there are people that are living outside in our communities? And as much as maybe, oh, yeah. And as much as like maybe we are aggravated, frustrated by that reality of, you know, people living on the streets of our communities, The Other Ones Foundation is an organization that was founded about 7-8 years ago. And it began as a workforce development organization, working with people experiencing homelessness, offering them low barrier work. But, you know, in the course of this conversation that TOOF is having around homelessness, the reality of it is, and this is kind of the way that I would talk about it with people, is that people living on the streets of our cities, you know, we work really hard. I think, you know, politicians, leaders, people with a microphone, us internally in our own selves, I think that we have this tendency to try to find ways to make sense of, and the harder version is find a way to blame these persons for the predicament that they find themselves in. And yes, if we took the time and we learned all the stories of all the people on the streets and how they got there and what they experienced that got them there, maybe some of us could arrive at something like, oh, there's the moment where you really messed up and then now your life situation is the product of that reality. Maybe. And there are plenty of, you know, but the reality is there are plenty of people living in housing that have made some of the same choices, but with drastically and catastrophically different outcomes. So all that to say, Austin, Texas has a lot of homeless people and, you know, I'm a fundraiser. And what that means for me is I don't have the luxury of really choosing sides on agendas or on political realities. And what I mean is that doesn't mean that I don't have opinions. I have a lot of opinions about housing, about homelessness, about all these things. But when it steps into the space of like trying to fund for these things, you're really working in the middle. You're working with people on either side of you with different things. And homelessness, unfortunately, has become an issue that kind of sits in the center of things. And it is the constant victim of a rather unceasing kerfuffle between local governments and say here in Texas, state governments. And so Esperanza came into being about four years ago, back in 2019, maybe more like three years ago, right before the pandemic hit. And it was a product of the back and forthing that happens between local governments and state governments, no one really knowing what to do about an issue. And we see this all over the nation, where communities will make a decision to create these things called sanctioned encampments. I've seen it done in Oregon, they're happening in California, but they're happening in the Midwest, they're happening in the Southeast. It's happening in so many localities where they're creating sanctioned encampments. And what that literally means is just a legal place for persons to camp. So the origin of Esperanza community is that it was started three and a half years ago by the state of Texas on state owned land. The reality is a 7 acre property parking lot. It was a place where they used to park state vehicles. So what that means is a sanctioned encampment, it ended up being about 200 persons living there in tents and makeshift shelters, but there's no water, no indoors, no access to services, no access to nothing. It operated that way for about a year. And what do you know, it may seem like a great solution to create a sanctioned encampment, but that's still very expensive to create these kinds of things. And the reality is it's a seven acre parking lot, none of these persons were actually getting helped or housed. So to cut to the chase, Esperanza came into existence because my organization, The Other Ones Foundation, was invited to come onto this site and began to do work. And it was from our work, our commitment, like Sarah said at the beginning, towards kinship. And the notion of kinship as listening, the notion of kinship is not coming from a place of patronizing us up here, you down here. A lot of times in philanthropy, like Sarah said in the opening, philanthropy is at its essence a love of mankind, a love of others, a love of people. And to do that, to love people, you can't do that up here. You can't do sprinkle down blessings. You have to have a sense of I'm going to come alongside you. And the reality is what I love about kinship as a concept for fundraising is it is a direct mirroring of the way that many of our nonprofits seek to serve our program participants, right? You can think of whatever context it is. Maybe it's human trafficking. Maybe it's working with puppy dogs. Maybe it's working with people that are experiencing homelessness. The essence of a lot of our nonprofits that exist in this world is this sense of building kinship with the persons that we are seeking to serve and love. So if that's the case, the work for me as a fundraiser for something like Esperanza is to try to mirror that in the way that I work with our donors. I want them to sense this. Yes, they're not experiencing homelessness. Yes, they're not a lost puppy dog on the street. Yes, they may have not experienced human trafficking or anything like that, but I can give them a sense of what it might feel like to be a part of my organization. So Esperanza, the name for that came up as we were developing the site with these 200 individuals. We built these kinship relationships. We listened intently. And Esperanza is a product of that listening. We created a leadership council as we were devising this community, and they named themselves. It was their choice to name this community Esperanza, which if you're, if you don't know, Esperanza actually is Spanish for the word hope.
Sarah: I'm going to interrupt for a second. Can you just specify who's on the leadership council? Because I think that's one of the things that's really unique about the model.
Jared: Actually, I haven't even told you this yet. As of 6 months ago. So the leadership council is an elected council of, I think it's around 10 persons. These persons are all persons who experience homelessness and are currently living and participating in programs and services at Esperanza. And what's amazing about it, it's really evolved. Like at first, the first, and it rotates. I think it's like six months or maybe it's three months sitting on this council because we do have people moving out, right? Like this is not a permanent community. So you can't do like, “oh, well, you're on the council for three years.” Like that's not, we're not trying to have you here for three years. It is a way for leadership. It's a way for advocacy. So anyways, persons are voting. When we have elections, it's so amazing. People create campaign posters with pictures and bios. And this is why I want to be on here. And like, we have binders that are out in our community center where people can peruse through and look and say, oh yeah, I always use the name Bill just to protect privacy. Bill's applying. He wants to be on council. And Bill says he loves taking care of his dog. He really wants to see a dog park here. He really loves thinking about cleanliness here, whatever it might be. But also what happens is from our leadership council, the leadership council chooses one person on the council and that person has a seat on our board now. And they're a fully fledged voting member. And so that's gnarly, you know, like, again, I won't tell the name of the person, but it's, you know, sitting on these board meetings and, you know, and I'm going through like, yeah, I'm trying to work on this donor right now, trying to bring in whatever the number is. And I'm having this conversation with a resident who will go back and report to the leadership council. Do you know that Jared is going after somebody to give us “da da da da da” amount of money? Like, that's amazing. And I protect privacy of the donor on those calls too, obviously. But they're fully aware of our plans, our goals, how the fundings coming in, and what that funding will be used for. And they'll tell us if it's not good. Like, no, we don't want that. I'll tell this story why I think leadership council is so important as an advocacy group. I was partnering with, and I'll use their name because they deserve a lot of credit on what they're doing. But IKEA, IKEA is an incredible organization. And they have been an incredible partner with us. But they were helping us get furnishings for the shelters. So at Esperanza, we're building this community out of 200 individual shelters. They were helping, IKEA was helping us furnish them. And so they sent over just like a bunch of stuff for us to like, test out. And I loved it because I got to pick some of these things. But we had a session with our leadership council and other residents of Esperanza to talk about furnishings. And I had everything kind of laid out in this warehouse that we were in, you know, cubbies and drawers and this. But I had this one system, it was a cloth hanging system, a very IKEA, very minimalistic, you know, black, just the rack. Nobody was touching this thing. They were messing around moving things into this mock, you know, shelter that we'd put on the ground. And nobody was touching it. And so I was like, “Hey guys, I'm just so you know, this is to hang clothes.” You know, just that's what this is for. You just “da da da”. And I just thought maybe they didn't quite get what it was. And one of the persons on the leadership committee goes, “Jared, we know what that is. But we don't hang clothes, we fold.” And the thing is, like, that is kinship. Kinship is the willingness to listen, the willingness to learn, and the willingness to say, “Oh, my bad, I wasn't listening.” Let's do the thing that is right for you. You know? But yeah.
Sarah: Yeah. And that's what's so amazing to me, because I think if we were truly in kinship, you know, kind of a deep resonant kinship, the way you guys do it with our clients, our programming would change.
Jared: It absolutely has to.
Sarah: Yeah. And I think this is where so many nonprofits miss out on this opportunity to give and receive love. You know, the people we serve have a lot to say to us, and we don't always listen.
Jared: That is, I think, is the essence of the magic of the nonprofit. You know, we sit at an incredibly special place in our society, and not many people are really taking advantage of the fact that we exist. Because so many people and this is the reality, and that's okay. But so many persons see nonprofits, again, from this very patronizing place, I will send them money, because they need to offer services to people that actually need their services. I think that we are doing a grave disservice to all of our collective understanding of what does it mean to be a nonprofit? Because yes, we are a place that offers particular services to a particular subset of our community and population. But the actual beauty of it is that we are also centers of formation for the people who support us too. We are, our nonprofits, I believe, are incorrect in their assumption that the only people they're here to care for are their clients. We are nonprofits, we sit at the center. We are at the center of creating bridge points between persons that maybe yes, need this particular service, but we also have the ability to connect persons who have a desire to see that aspect of our world changed. And the thing is, like, this is the difference between fundraising and philanthropy. I'm not here to get a transaction from them. I'm here to have a conversation with you over the long term about the relationship that you have to your resources. And I believe that nonprofits, that is a special place. Nobody else in the world gets to offer anyone else that journey. You can't go to Nike and buy a shoe and make your life better. You can't buy a car and make your life better. But you know what you can do? Research has shown that if you give of your resources, your time and your talent, research says that you will be happier, you'll be healthier, and you will be more whole. And so nonprofits sit at the space, sit right at the center of this space of doing far more than what they actually think they're doing.
Sarah: Yeah. And that's what I love about working with nonprofits, you know, across the United States. Like, God, you guys are doing like holy work. I mean, it is sacred. And to me, like, it is such an honor and a privilege to work with nonprofits across the US because I therefore get to tap into their sacred holy work and make the world a better place and help the people, not only who are recipients, but also their donors have a better experience, you know? So, you know, I say this all the time. Philanthropy is a heart-centered activity, right? So if I care about homelessness, yeah, I could invite three homeless people to live in my house. Or maybe, like, if I could give somebody the couch, okay, now we're up to four. But it's not really going to make a difference. And so I'm going to take my money and give it to, like, you and say, “you are in relationship with people that I care about.” I can't do anything about it. So my heart is aching. “And here is my precious gift, my time, my money, my paper towels, whatever. Please use it on behalf of these people that I desire to help.” You know? And so I often talk about donor centricity doesn't mean, like, now you're kowtowing to every single donor. It means that you now include the donor in the relationships that you are having from your organization. So it's like you link arms, one arm with the client and the other arm with the donor, because that's what the donor wants. I mean, you know, a lot of times our organizations are just the vehicles for transformation. And that's what we're dying for. Like, donors want transformation. Clients want transformation, right? So we're this beautiful, sacred conduit through which that can happen for both parties.
Jared: And so that's the thing. So, like, early on, whenever I joined TOOF, we started a monthly donor program. That program model, sustaining model, really works for something like TOOF. I actually think it works for most non-profits. You just got to figure out the way in which you present it. But for TOOF, it's, you know, a super easy get, right? Like, you can get to, oh, we need monthly support because we need to do this on an ongoing basis. So not hard to legitimize the need for the monthly giving. But the thing is, like, that is a big mistake non-profits make. Just because you can present the fact that we're doing stuff. Hey, we're doing stuff, and therefore that makes you know that we need money to do the stuff that we talk about all the time. So maybe consider signing up to be a monthly donor. And that will work for some. That will work for some donors. They will see, maybe they love the, they have an affinity or a passion for the issue of homelessness. So all you need to do is say, “Yep, we need money for, you know, food. We need money for this.” And those persons will respond. But the problem is that still presents, in my opinion, a very toxic reality of giving. We tell you what we need. You say, “Okay, I've got some money. I'll give you what you need.” But the reality is that keeps that donor still on the periphery of the thing. They're on the outside looking in. And every now and then they get, they see your, you know, you wave your flag saying, hey, we need some money. So when we started devising this monthly donor program, we called it a community builder program. And that's not, that's not like a genius name to name it. Like I'm sure there's a lot of community builder programs out there. But the way that I talked about it in our messaging internally amongst us, as I talked about the reality is that community builder is a brand name for us. But it is also, if you step back, community building is the desired for outcome for our clients. That these persons who are experiencing something like homelessness, houselessness, displacement, can journey through our programs. And in our programs, they can experience themselves as a person who can build community. Right? So we are creating community builders. But in the same sense, I'm also asking donors to come along and be a community builder with us. Because what do you know? Right? Donors also need to experience themselves as persons who can build community. And like one of the biggest things that I learned, so part of my background that we didn't really talk that, that is that I was a pastor at one point for about 15 years before I got into this. And it was a really quick lesson, hard lesson for me whenever we moved out to Esperanza, because we started this listening thing. And we were, you know, we had social workers in the community asking critical questions. And, you know, I looked through all the responses, and it was responses like, you know, a person living in this tent says, “You know, I'm really lonely.”, “I'm experiencing a mental health reality.”, “I'm depressed.”, or “I have schizophrenia.”, or “I have this.” Or they say, “I've got a drug addiction reality or an alcoholism reality.” Or they would say, “My partner and I aren't getting along.” They would say, “The neighbor living next door is a jackass, and we don't get along either in this.” And so I'm reading these responses. And then I'm having like a weird flashback moment to when I was the pastor at a very large downtown church here in Austin, Texas. And I'd be sitting in my office and I'd get that knock. And in would walk someone in my congregation has been there for 20 years, a leader in the group, maybe they're on the board of whatever, they've seen everything they whatever. And they sit down to me and say, “Jared, I'm lonely.”, “I'm depressed.”, “I'm experiencing mental health reality.”, “ I'm experiencing a drug addiction.”, “I'm experiencing this”, “ My wife and I, my partner and I were not getting along.” “My neighbors a jackass.” And so what it begins to see is like, “Oh, man, we're just all humans.” Yes, we're experiencing the challenges of these things. But the context is only what's different. But then if you step back and think about that, the donors to our organization are just people too. And so in many ways, those persons themselves are looking for places and spaces where they can experience themselves as a person who is able to build community with others. And it's through service that we know that persons are able to get a better perspective on their life, you know, being around others, extending yourself. And so the thing is, it's like, if we approach our donors as persons who have already figured out life, and we go to them and say, “Hey, you have money because you figured out life, can you give us some of that money.” We are doing a grave disservice to those persons. But if I can invite them into my organization, and through the power of what my organization does, I can show them, “Hey, you're searching for a place where you can experience yourself in a powerful, powerful way.” You want transformation. And the most surefire way for a person to experience transformation to truly find themselves at the core, my belief is that in order to find yourself, you must first lose yourself in service to others. That is it. And that is, that's a dream. And that is the paradox of giving. It is in giving that we receive. And if you give without the notion that you are going to receive on the other end, then it's not real meaningful giving.
Sarah: Yeah, I totally agree with you. I know, that's kind of how I gauge my own philanthropy. So I give away 2% of my gross income every year. That's a commitment I've had for a very long time. And I will gauge where my money is going based on that experience. Am I having a transaction? Because I don't want to have a transaction.
Jared: I don't either.
Sarah: And if I'm having a relationship with the organization, with the folks that I'm trying to impact, then I will continue my philanthropy. But there's lots of times when I just will pull my money because I'm being treated like an ATM. And that's not the experience I want as a donor.
Jared: And to say this for the fundraisers out there, doesn't it suck when you feel like you're getting treated like an ATM at your organization? You know, the only time you ever talk to whoever is when they knock on the door and say, “Hey, we need $50,000. Can you get that tomorrow?” That feels, it's not my money, but it does, it feels hard. It feels, “Ah, okay. I'll go get the money.“
Sarah: You know, I don't want to throw too fun to the bus, but I know it's been a challenge for you to get the level of support you've needed. I know you guys have raised 5 million. I could be wrong. You could be well beyond that number by now, but it's just, I know some of the conversations you and I have had about how in the nonprofit sector, there's this culture of somehow there must be some magic fundraising fairy out there. And if you can just find them, right, they're going to drop a million dollars on the executive directors. And so how many fundraisers are overwhelmed, under supported, struggling without, you know, again, it's not having the relationships in the organization. Cause I know I've been a director of development at several organizations, and sometimes the only time I would ever see staff was when they wanted me to raise money for them.
Sarah: And I was just like, “Okay, let's make sure this is supporting the strategic plan.” Did this come from, you know, the board and the executive director, or you just decided that this is what you want and you're just coming to me and like, “Guys, I'm not an ATM machine.” Like fundraising is work. And yeah. And so, you know, I just think your experience of, you know, people not being in kinship with you as a fundraiser is very typical.
Jared: Well, and understand. Yeah. And that's it, you know, like what I learned when, and what I am learning, you know, I've had the opportunity to work for a major university doing some fund development. This was early on in my career. And then I, you know, moved to working in churches and was still doing fund development and congregations. Cause you are trying to maintain stability and fiscal, you know, all that stuff. But, you know, the thing about organizations, especially ones like the major university I was at, this thing's over a hundred years old. The church that I was at was literally over a hundred years old. These, and I'm going to use this word in a very gentle way, but these machines are designed and set up systemically as things that can raise money. That is the essence of them. And so it makes it, and I say not easy, but it is easier for the fundraiser in those contexts because the context is completely oriented towards their success. We need you to succeed because this thing's a lot of times happens with, you know, what I've experienced with like younger nonprofits. And this isn't just, you know, TOOF is amazing as an organization. But the connections and relationships I've made with other nonprofits here is the reality of a lot of these nonprofits are young. They have very little structure around them, but also even the structure they do have around them is the priority is around their programming, their client-based programming and fundraising as seen as this thing on the periphery that we just have to have because we have these programs. But the example I always use is like, that's not how Nike works. And I'm, I don't actually wear any Nike. I just use them because everybody knows the brand, but like, they're not out there just focusing on like how good the shoes are. Like, honestly, I bet the shoes have gotten worse in the past decade, right? Like they probably cut corners, but you know what they've gotten really good at? The machine of building a community around their product. And, but the thing is…
Sarah: Apple has nailed that to such a high level, right?
Jared: Yes. To that point, whenever I started, I started a brand new job this week working for another organization. I was freaking out because they said, “Oh, your computer is going to be on your desk when you get here.” And they didn't say whether or not it was going to be on your PC or Mac. And I was like, I've been a part of the Mac community, you know, for 15 years now, I don't, I don't even know how to work with that other community. So anyways, the point being, the point being that I think a lot, and it's, and it's, the hard reality is, and I run into this in my own soul as I'm thinking through these things. We got to be honest with ourselves, that a lot of the systemic realities and issues that our nonprofits exist to try to do something about is also being perpetuated and, and upheld by many of the persons and systems that we go to for funding.
Jared: We all know that to be true. And I think that there, when it comes to nonprofits, and the leadership around these nonprofits, we are all, especially in the housing space, I am keenly aware that the reason we're struggling is because there is a bunch of have nots, who don't give a crap, or a bunch of haves, who don't give a crap about the have nots. And that's, you know, developers and realty and this and that and businesses, you know, Elon Musk came to Austin, like, I say came, arrived at Austin, like two years ago and said, “Hey, this place is going to be a boomtown.” And I want to like pull them aside and say,” Elon, a boomtown for who, sir?” Because we all know that when he says boomtown, there is only a small subset of our population that he is actually referring to.
Jared: And so we are I know that I know that to be true. We are in a boomtown. And I know that the boomtown that is coming for Austin, Texas will only benefit a few, and it will really hurt a lot.
Sarah: Yeah, I know, every time I come, you know, I may have only been gone for 6 months, because you know, I go down there quite a bit, or at least I was going down there quite a bit for a while. And my friend and I would be driving out to see our friends. And we'd be like, “Oh my god, that developer wasn't here before that.” And like, it may be only 6 months and now 3 huge mega developments have gone up. And you know, like the building quality can't be that good, because they're springing up so quickly. But you know, like, you just and then you just look at the pricing. It's like $700,000, $800,000, $900,000 for a house. And then you wonder why there's such homelessness. I mean, we had a similar thing happened here in Worcester when we went through what they called the Renaissance downtown.
Sarah: Well, downtown used to be the unattractive place to live. Because the joke here in Worcester was that everyone rolled up the sidewalks at five o'clock because there's really no life downtown. So you know, from the city's perspective, and the developers' perspectives, yeah, let's rent us, you know, have this renaissance downtown. Okay, well, now we have a bunch of super expensive apartments, a lot of these older apartment buildings have gone condo, everyone that was living downtown has been displaced. We already have a shortage of affordable housing, the waitlist at the Public Housing Authority is eight years long. So good luck ever getting an apartment there. And now in the wake of the Renaissance, more people are housing burdened. So like before the Renaissance, at least 50% of homeowners were already housing burdened, because Massachusetts is an expensive place to live. And there's, there's a differential between like the wages and the cost of living. And then, you know, post Renaissance, even more homeowners are having trouble. And you know, forget renting. I mean, renting is crazy now. It's just so I'm just watching the city. So for some people are like, yeah, the Renaissance and, you know, yay, we have a minor league baseball team. And I have my own opinions about that. And I'm like, “Okay, what about all the people that were living downtown? Where did they go?” You know, and we have a, I don't know whether it's a town or a city, but there's a place called Southbridge, about 25-30 minutes outside of Worcester. And that's where a lot of people migrated. But now you're talking about accessing jobs, there's not a lot of transportation, it just gets so complicated so quickly. And, you know, yet the people who have all the money from the Renaissance are now like, “Oh, here, let me, you know, donate to your nonprofit.”
Jared: And it's hard. So the lessons are, that if I ever had proximity to Elon, this is the difference. There are some in the nonprofit space that if they had the chance to sit down with Elon, they would give Elon a piece of their mind. And that's what they would use that opportunity for. If I had my opportunity with Elon, I would try to get him to give. And I'm never going to get someone like Elon to give if I first force Elon to admit that he's the problem. I have to present a pathway for Elon to say, you are the solution. Then I think a lot of times what happens with nonprofits, especially, you know, again, in this space of trying to figure out like, “who's to blame here.” And that's the thing, again, that's the thing that's ironic about nonprofits and all this stuff.
Sarah: You're okay.
Jared: Okay, it's frozen on my end. Sorry.
Sarah: Yeah, no, you're good.
Jared: Okay. That's the thing, the ironic thing that happens with nonprofits, right, is that we want to step into the space where we say, you know, the people we're serving, don't blame them for the thing that's happening in their life. Right. And we want to protect them and say, like, this person is worthy and good. And we love this person. But we're not willing to offer that same sort of approach to the donor who walks through our door. Because the reality is, and I've said this, and I said this at TOOF a lot, it's like the reality is, is the person, a donor could walk through our door. And I'm not trying to sniff this out. I'm not trying to figure it out. But a donor could walk through our door and maybe be a person that would vote on a local, you know, ordinance that says that people can't camp in public spaces. And I would personally, I would be against that, right? For me and for most people on my team. I could determine if that person voted for a thing that I don't like. But that doesn't actually matter. They're here. And the reality is, and this is what I tell the team a lot, is I don't really care about the person's opinions about this issue, as long as they're not trying to victimize anyone and hurt anyone. Because the real power and belief I have about my nonprofit is that if a person can journey with me, and if I can have time with them, that there is a really good chance. At least I think I'm that good, that maybe they don't vote like that next time. But the only way that they're maybe not going to vote like that next time is if we create a pathway for them to have a powerful and meaningful experience with our organization.
Sarah: Yeah. And to me, it's also about giving them the opportunity to open up their hearts. So, for example, we've all undergone the same conditioning. We have all grown up in an extraction capitalist model. And whatever. I mean, my dad was a corporate lawyer, Republican, old school Republican. I'm not talking about the Republican Party now, but he was old school Republican. He was influenced by the Depression and World War II and pull up your bootstraps kind of thing. And my mother was also a World War II person. She grew up during the Depression. And she grew up in the South during a time when she was conditioned that her only worth was to snag a well-bred man. Right. So then in turn, I get that conditioning. Right. And it would have been very easy for me to turn out very differently than I have. You know, and I've had people say to me, like, “How did you end up being this person?” And first of all, I was born this way. I just came out of the womb like, “come on, take it, you know, go ahead.” But also, you know, I have a very unique experience because there's two major influences that I know kind of steered me in a different direction than that to which I was being conditioned. Right. And so one is that my father's first generation American, my grandfather, thank God, my great grandfather, looked at the writing on the wall in Germany, had one too many Nazi parades go through the town and said, “We're out.”
Sarah: Like, “Thank you, Opa.” Right. He hustled his family out of there. They got on the boat. They came to the United States. So I had a very different experience growing up. You know, I was speaking German with my grandmother. There was a lot of heavy German influence. But also that idea of being new and being German in the United States during World War II, which was complicated. So that was like a major influence. And then the other major influence is that my mother was an active alcoholic till I was 12. So, I mean, that left me with a huge legacy to impact, but it also made me understand the human condition and the human struggle. You know, she grew up in a tremendously privileged home. They had a housekeeper/nanny. They had a gardener. They lived down in Charleston, South Carolina, down by the Battery in a rather large home. And, you know, I mean, all the things. Right. And so we all undergo our own unique conditioning. Right. And so when we get angry at people for following their conditioning, like, we don't know what we don't know. And I think you step into relationships with people. That's when the heart opening happens. Right. And so, you know, I know even, you know, a couple of years before my dad died, I was having interesting conversations with him about where the Republican Party was going and sort of his take on beliefs and some of the experience that we had as a family. You know, just like, “well, dad, do you see the importance of social services? Because do you remember what mom went through? Do you remember what we went through? Because, you know…” so he started going, “Oh.” You know, but, you know, he was a product of his. But it's a product of the…
Jared: Yeah, it's the product of context, you know, that's the thing. I think for me, kind of to piggyback on what you're saying, like mine was I was raised and I don't mean this in like we were fine. But like I think a lot of people around my age, we were raised in the context of scarcity. And I don't mean scarcity as in well, I mean, for some, I never experienced scarcity of like in my close proximity. I always had everything I needed. Right. I've always had every bit of traction that I needed to build a life. I've always had it. But at the same time, though, the access that I had to the things, the home that I had, all these things was presented to me at a young age as we have to protect this, because if you don't, there's not enough to go around. We are the lucky ones. We are the lucky ones that have the stuff, but we could not be maybe not able, right, not able to have these things. So it's a scarcity mindset. There's not enough to go around. But the thing is like, I was a product of the scarcity mindset. But now I look around me like that's just not there's enough to go around, which I know we need to wrap up. I wanted to say, now I have a new position. I work for an organization here in Austin, Texas called I Live Here, I Give Here. It's an interesting organization for me because in my work at TOOF and I'll recall one conversation I had with that really stuck with me with, you know, a higher level donor to TOOF, to the Oath Foundation at the time. And the donor, like many donors, was like, “Hey, I need to make sure that you've got a lot of other donors around you.”, “I want to make sure this is a short bet.” And I'd heard that message before. Like I've heard people saying, “Hey, we need this, this and this, and we need more donors.” And I just turned to this donor and I said, “Do you think that there's a lot of you? There's not a lot of people that are like you just showing up here looking to donate.” And the beautiful thing about getting to join an organization like I Live Here, I Give Here is we are, we run a giving day through Central Texas here called Amplify Austin Day every year. Last year was around $13 million we raised for local nonprofits. But the reason why I'm so drawn to this organization is because this organization is really pushing a thing called the generosity movement. And at the very end, as I'm thinking about the mission of this organization, this generosity movement, and even thinking about, I used to work in homeless services, I used to work at a major university. I have friends that work at, a friend that works at an animal shelter. I've got another friend that works at a human trafficking place. At the end of the day, the answer to every social problem that I could list off, you know what the answer to all those things are? Generosity. That is it. A more generous world.
Sarah: Yeah, I was going to say love, but yeah.
Jared: Yes, but it's the same thing. Right.
Jared: Love and generosity and compassion and kinship and this, a more generous world where more people are having brand new relationships to the resources they have. That is the actual thing that could change the entire fabric of our society. If more people were generous.
Sarah: I could not agree with you more. Yeah. And that's why I actually started this whole live stream show, because I see this model that's based on a 400 year old rule book, right? And it's so limiting in terms of our capacity to gather people around us who can bring all sorts of resources to the cause. It's like we're handcuffing ourselves and hamstringing ourselves. We could be supported at such a higher level if we would just open up to it.
Jared: And just believe that it's okay to ask people to share their resources. It's okay for you as a person to ask the question of yourself, “What am I going to do with my resources?” These are all good and right questions that we should be asking. And as a fundraiser, fund developer, I get to be there to ask the question. And that is a special place. Nobody else, there's not many people in this world that are courageous enough to go around asking people to have a serious conversation about what they're going to do with what they've been given. There's not a lot of people out there brave enough to do it. But I believe the reason why is because it is the place. It is the place. Generosity is the answer to all the problems in the world.
Sarah: I totally agree with you. We're going to have to wrap it up, but I know we could talk for hours more, so maybe I'll have you back on again. I would love it. Yeah, I would love to continue this conversation. I just want to thank you so much, A, for being who you are. I just have such deep love and admiration and respect for you and who you are in the world and the work that you're doing. So thank you for that. And I also just want to thank you for sharing your time and your thoughts and opinions here on this show. I really appreciate the contribution that you're making to everyone who's listening now or listening in the future. You have so much wisdom to share, so thank you so much.
Jared: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Sarah: All right, guys, thanks for joining us for another episode. We'll be back in two weeks with more. Bye.
Jared: Bye, y'all.
Thanks for tuning in. I'll be back in two weeks with another episode. Got topics you want me to cover? Organizations you want me to showcase? Let me know. Also, I'm here to help you revolutionize philanthropy at your nonprofit. If you want to talk about what that looks like, drop me an email.