“Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice. In order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.”

Brené Brown

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is holding space and honoring what’s meaningful to them. We have seen this truth in action at Thrive through our holiday gifting program. In 2021, Thrive Global, led by founder and CEO, Arianna Huffington, began a new tradition that transformed its holiday gifting into an experience of generosity that echoes throughout the year. Instead of providing employees with sweaters or pajamas, Thrive gives each employee a $100 TisBest charity gift card, empowering them to support a cause they care about. 

Thrivers are encouraged not only to donate, but also to share about the organizations they donated to and why they chose them at our weekly team meeting. This act of sharing has a twofold impact: it raises awareness about a myriad of nonprofit organizations and fosters a culture of connection and compassion amongst the team. By sharing why they chose a particular charity, Thrivers illuminate causes that might otherwise remain in the shadows. This not only educates others about various issues but also motivates them to reflect on what’s important to them and how they too can give back to causes they’re passionate about. On several occasions, I have watched as the personal stories shared by Thrivers inspire other Thrivers to use their TisBest card in support of the same organization.

The stories shared by Thrivers are not just personal anecdotes; they are powerful narratives that provide a glimpse into meaningful moments in their lives and challenges that have impacted them either personally or through a family member or friend. As Thomas Merton once said, “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” When employees articulate their reasons for choosing a charity, they engage in a process of introspection and vulnerability. This practice cultivates a deeper understanding among colleagues about what drives each of us, strengthening team bonds and fostering a more compassionate work environment. 

For example, Stephen Crowley, Thrive’s Staff Product Designer, donated to Be The Match, an organization that connects donors to recipients requiring stem cell transplants. Stephen’s daughter, Hannah, underwent a stem cell transplant at just eight months old. As Stephen shares, “There are currently 41 million people signed up to be donors worldwide, which seems like more than enough, but they only found one suitable match for Hannah. She is now 8 and doing very well, but the scarcity of suitable matches underscores the critical need for more donors.”

The stories shared by Thrivers also raised awareness about public organizations that we might use every day yet never think to support. Alie Martell Mallon, Thrive’s Senior Director, Content Strategy, chose to donate to the Brooklyn Public Library, a cornerstone of her family’s life and the lives of many others in New York: “They provide so much incredible kids’ programming completely for free (even concerts!), which is a lifeline, especially during the winter months, and we’ve discovered so many of our favorite picture books just browsing through the shelves. Nearly every book I read comes from their e-book collection.” Alie’s story reflects the broader role of libraries in communities — as hubs of learning, safe spaces, and providers of essential services like free internet. 

As for me, I chose to donate to Hospitality Homes, an organization that matches out-of-town patients with volunteer host homes and donated apartments so they have somewhere to stay during medical treatment. My family benefited greatly from their services when my niece and nephew were born prematurely with a congenital kidney disease and required extended care at Boston Children’s Hospital. Hospitality Homes provided my family with an apartment and meals during the holidays, offering compassion and comfort during a difficult time. Remembering my nephew Ryan, who passed away in 2017, and celebrating my niece Berkeley, who received a successful kidney transplant in 2019, I gave back to ensure other families can receive the same loving kindness.

As I write this article, we have seen 100% redemption of our TisBest charity gift cards. The breadth of causes chosen by Thrivers is remarkable, ranging from health and disease research and support to animal welfare and environmental conservation to social justice and human rights to education and youth services. Between volunteering, individual donations, and the TisBest charity gift cards, Thrivers have supported more than 175 unique nonprofit organizations. Each choice represents a story, a personal connection, or a legacy being honored. By combining the act of giving with personal storytelling, Thrive has fostered a culture of empathy and generosity and a meaningful platform for building community. 


  • Kasia Laskowski

    Executive Director, Thrive Global Foundation

    Thrive Global

    Kasia Laskowski is the Executive Director of the Thrive Global Foundation. Prior to this role, she worked as Thrive’s Chief of Staff for Business Operations. Kasia began her career in the nonprofit and humanitarian sectors where she witnessed firsthand the epidemic of burnout in countless organizations staffed with passionate and determined individuals. Before joining Thrive, Kasia served as Communications Director for the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, an international congregation of Catholic women. Kasia studied International Political Economy at Fordham University and received her Master's in International Humanitarian Action from Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In her spare time, Kasia enjoys learning about spiritual pathways to healing and applying them to her life.