We all want to know that our lives have value. It can be very discouraging to feel that we are not doing anything day to day of significant worth. This is one reason why philanthropy is valuable, besides the most obvious point that helping the disadvantaged is ethical.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Neda Nobari says, “I give because I am here on this planet in this time for a reason and I hope to help create a catalyst for a better world.”

Reminding ourselves of the kindness of others can encourage us toward greater kindness. Here are some examples of how individuals and families have decided to meet the needs they see by starting their own foundations. 
Bill and Melinda Gates 
One the most well-known foundations in existence is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The couple calls those who are involved in their cause “impatient optimists.” They want to improve people’s quality of life in the realms of poverty, health, and education.

Agricultural development and reducing global tobacco use are just two aspects of their work. The Gates’ global efforts and impact are extensive, given their wealth. But the Gates Foundation also provides help at the local level, partnering with NGOs and community organizations who need support. 
Donald A. Burns 
The Donald A. Burns Foundation is based in Palm Beach, FL, and provides a variety of services in its community. These include a crisis hotline, hospice programs, and animal protection. The foundation supports Nantucket Cottage Hospital, which is a non-profit hospital that will actually see patients at grocery stores, in schools and ballfields, and even on ferries.

The foundation is a major supporter of the LBGT movement. It has also donated funds to research in neuroscience, as well as to educating students in skills such as aviation. The foundation is an example of helping both on a personal level and at the level of people’s most basic physical needs. 
Zarrow Families
The Zarrow Families Foundation is a foundation serving Tulsa, OK, that recently won an award for its public partnerships. This foundation focuses on people in the community who are disadvantaged, including veterans, the mentally ill, and the homeless.

The Zarrow Families help the vulnerable by providing housing, health programs, and education, among other services. They target people primarily in the Tulsa community and in Israel, showing that organizations don’t have to try to help the entire world to make a lasting difference. 
Children’s Investment Fund
As its name suggests, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) focuses on children, particularly those in developing countries. One interesting aspect of this foundation is that while its overall emphasis is helping children, one way it does so is by working to improve climate change. The idea is that improving the environment will create a better situation for children around the world.

The organization also works against those who would use children for labor or who would exploit them sexually. The foundation ultimately desires not merely to rescue children from destructive situations but also to help them flourish. 
Eva Gunther
The Eva Gunther Foundation makes it possible for girls between the ages of 11 and 18 to have opportunities they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. The foundation began in 2001 and has since helped 450 girls achieve one of their dreams. Young women have taken art and dance classes, attended camps, and gone to tournaments, among other activities.

The Gunther family started the foundation when Eva Gunther died at age 12 at the hands of a drunk driver. The Gunthers decided to use this tragedy as an opportunity to honor Eva’s memory. The foundation commemorates her strengths, values, and talents and enables other young girls to explore their own. 
Numerous Benefits to Helping Others
It is natural for many of us to think of our own needs before those of others. But when we choose to make sacrifices for people, we often find that doing so, in the end, gives us a sense of purpose and meaning.

Besides actually improving someone else’s life, studies have shown that giving improves people’s health, lowering blood pressure and decreasing stress. 
And kindness is contagious. Being on the receiving end of someone’s generosity helps us to be thankful, happier, and prone to show the same generosity ourselves.

If we are willing to sacrifice for others, we can help everyone around us (including ourselves) to thrive.

Originally published at medium.com


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