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Giving with a personal approach and a focus on relationships

Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Wissahickon, an organization supported by the featured client.

harp-weaver serves clients – independent foundations, family foundations, and individuals – who care about their communities and seek to give back in a number of ways.

In this post, we’re featuring one of those clients who supports a variety of issue areas, mostly in the Greater Philadelphia Area, but internationally as well. She has given to many organizations for a number of years such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, Woodmere Art Museum, the Philadelphia Ballet, Cradles to Crayons, Fresh Artists, the Chestnut Hill Community Association, and more.

She has asked to remain anonymous but shared her philosophy on giving and what motivates her to do so with our staff.

Can you talk about your background and how you first learned about philanthropy?

From a young age, I learned about philanthropy through my involvement in church. We would sell violets to the congregation in order to help people.

What is your philosophy on giving? In other words, how have you designed your approach to giving?

I wasn’t born nor raised in Philadelphia, but my grandparents came from here and I visited frequently. This is where I have roots. My husband and I lived here for a number of years, and after he passed, I wanted to do more. Over the years, I’ve learned to reinvent myself.

I’m fortunate to have the ability to give, and I wanted to make it personal. Through philanthropy, I honor various people in my life – whether that be through scholarships at certain universities/colleges or through other projects. I appreciate their passion for certain issue areas, and I want to honor that passion.

I didn’t want or need as formal a giving structure as a private foundation, so the donor advised fund vehicle has worked well for me to chart my own path.

What do you look for in the organizations that you give to?

I have a broad approach to giving. As I mentioned, I’ve enjoyed honoring the people in my life with certain gifts. I’m also interested in a few different causes, including the arts, education, health and medicine, hunger relief/food issues, community, and historic preservation, to name a few. I do have a special heart for the Kensington neighborhood and the challenges it faces.

One of the most important measures for me when I decide whether to give to an organization is the personality of the person/people running it. Do they have passion for its mission and the difference that they make?

Relationships are central to what I do. I value the relationships I’ve formed with the various people and organizations that I’ve given to.

What is your relationship with Teresa (Araco Rodgers, harp-weaver’s principal)?

I first learned about Teresa from a local article about women’s philanthropy. I tucked that information away until I felt ready to engage.

Since then, we’ve worked together for more than 8 years. As I mentioned, relationships are important to me, and my relationship with Teresa is very significant for the work that we’re able to do together. She has played an instrumental role in this process of giving.

What has been most rewarding for you in giving? What impact do you hope to have, whether within specific organizations or the broader community?

I feel deeply for the people who face challenges and want to help organizations do what they want/are able to do.

To provide support to an organization that makes a difference in someone’s life – that makes me feel good.

In addition to your giving, you also volunteer with a local Rotary Club. Why is that important to you?

Rotary is everything I aspire to – it’s a service-oriented, like-minded organization. The featured speakers often give me an idea of what to fund/what to be involved in.

Anything else?

I originally thought that I’d wind everything down at my current age, but I’m excited to keep going. I work with a number of wonderful people who anchor me, and I’m eager to continue contributing.


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