“Life’s persistent and most urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve preached that mantra my whole life, unabashedly and purposely. Growing up in a Jewish home, where my mom was a professor of nursing and my dad was an assistant principal, I was always taught to lend a hand, try and help one another no matter what. I went to a conservative synagogue in Cedarhurst, NY and learned all about tikkun olam. I went to Hebrew school, got Bat Mitzvahed and was confirmed. I went through every step to understand Judaism, to understand the Torah and to understand how to respect my neighbor, my elders and my teachers and on and on. And what lessons did I learn? I learned how to help others. Do unto others what you would want for yourself. What could I do to help someone who was less fortunate than I? I involved my friends in my quest to help others – we had bake sales, we put on puppet shows and plays in my backyard, we volunteered at my synagogue with rummage sales to raise money for others who needed it more than I did. Giving to me felt just as good as receiving. Or perhaps just slightly better.

I realized early on when you choose to give, you are doing more than just helping your favorite cause, giving provides you with many personal benefits. No matter what charity you support, charities need your assistance to continue their selfless initiatives. I also learned If you are not able to contribute financially to a charity, but are looking for other ways to give back, consider volunteering your time instead. You will meet new, like-minded people, learn new skills to add to your resume, or complete necessary community hours for school programs. You can also get involved in the community that supports your favorite cause. For example, if you attend a fundraising event for your favorite charity, you’ll meet new people who care about the same cause. I met so many people this way- whether it was a life-long friend or a colleague to talk to about work and opportunities that go along with it. I have volunteered with many organizations throughout my life such as Hadassah, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Cornell University where I was an undergraduate), American Field Service, (I was a high school exchange student to Brazil through this program), Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, Leadership Palm Beach County, Kindness Matters 365, and the list goes on and on.

And yes, there are financial benefits when you donate to charity. Did you know that donating to charity can save you money come tax time? When you donate to a registered charity, you will receive a tax receipt for your donation. Plus, you also save on capital gains tax when you donate securities directly. This ensures more dollars are going to helping others because you will be able to give more to your favorite organization.

I have brought this importance of giving into my household to my kids. Teaching children to care about others is an important life lesson. I have been teaching my children, Ella, 15 and Brayden, 13 to follow in my footsteps. They volunteer at our synagogue (singing in the choir), make sandwiches for those less fortunate, and deliver holiday meals to the elderly. I want my children to know that being philanthropic should be a part of their daily lives. And yes, giving promotes feelings of happiness. Helping others feels good. As I continue to give, either as a volunteer or in a philanthropic way, I know I am helping the organizations that are important to me. While helping them, I’m also improving my emotional well-being, a win-win situation!

As an annual giving officer for Hadassah, I breathe philanthropy, raising much-needed funds for Hadassah’s mission in the U.S. and to support its world class medical research hospitals in Jerusalem. It is in my blood. I talk to donors and prospective donors all the time. I communicate with colleagues at other nonprofits.

Recently I had a situation with a donor where she was giving to the annual giving campaign (at a certain level on a yearly basis) and I wanted her to step up to a higher giving level. She has always been involved but I was trying to instill more passion within her soul and have her “move up.” I have always been in touch with her throughout the year (at least 7 times) whether it’s a Happy Hanukkah Card, a thank you for volunteering note, a phone call to say hello and check in during the pandemic and at least a few emails to let her know the updates with Hadassah Hospital.  Especially during this past year where I was relegated to doing events via ‘zoom’ instead of in person, I invited her to various zoom events where I thought she would find particular interest.

With this one program on Camp Judaea (Camp Judaea is part of Young Judaea, one of the annual giving areas Hadassah supports), we showed a video of the camp and kids singing at Havdalah. We showed the connection of Hadassah and the camp and why we give scholarships to students to go to this camp in Hendersonville, NC.  So many people were moved by this program because they heard directly from campers and their love for camp; from alumni who went to the camp and now they’re involved with Hadassah. My work was complete.  For now. This donor stepped up to a higher level than I had hoped and was so moved by this presentation! She is so excited to help with more annual giving programs and bring more people in who aren’t annual givers. People not only give to a cause they give to people. Because I continued my ‘touch points’ she didn’t feel as if I was only reaching out to her when I wanted her to increase her giving. So many of my donors are my friends. I would want them involved with something that I am involved in and genuinely believe in. I can only be a successful fundraiser because I believe in Hadassah’s annual giving program and their mission. Hadassah makes a connection for now and for the future.

We must repair the world. That is our duty. I help others while knowing that I am encouraging others to continue this tradition into the future. And of course, donating has allowed me to show gratitude. I inspire others to give generously. Spread tikkun olam. Always.

Renewal. Emergence. Growth. After this incredibly challenging year we’ve all just been though, there is more hope now. A light at the end of the tunnel.

Watch Hadassah’s Camp Judaea video here.


  • Betsy S. Silverfine is National Hadassah’s Annual Giving Officer and covers the entire the state of Florida and the New England region. She has a wide range of experience in fundraising, communications / community outreach and public relations, both in the non-profit and private consulting arenas including Junior Achievement, Adelphia Corp (now Comcast), Aird & Berlis LLP, and Brown Raysman LLP. A native New Yorker, Betsy is an active member of Hadassah.  Additionally,  she has volunteered with the MS Society, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, Cornell University, Kindness Matters, and the American Field Service, where she was an exchange student to Brazil. Betsy has been a 3x NYC marathoner. Betsy has been married for 15 years to Russell and together they have two children, Ella and Brayden.