It’s Not the Size of the Gift That Matters

How much does it take to make a difference in someone's life? How much money do you need to make a "transformational" impact? Every gift, no matter how big or small, can have a great multiplier effect. Keep reading. It may inspire you to see how you too can make a difference.

Something of huge significance took place just the other day. Something that does not happen every day and has the potential to make a “transformational “ impact on medical school students and healthcare not just locally but around the Globe.

In an article titled “$1 Billion Donation Will Provide Free Tuition at a Bronx Medical School,” The New York Times reported that Ruth Gottesman has agreed to donate 1 billion dollars to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. The money will be directed towards free tuition for all medical school students.

The story behind the genesis of the donation and the thought process that Ruth had when deciding what to do with the money is all covered in The New York Times article, which you can find here.

The multiplier effects that this gift can have on people’s lives are too much to comprehend. Students who may not have been able to afford medical school now have an opportunity they otherwise might not have had. Doctors tend to make a particularly good living, especially after they have paid off student loans. Therefore, having no loans will simply expedite that, increasing their family’s wealth. For many, the American Dream, which may not have been realistic before, will now be possible.

As the U.S. population continues to age, more doctors are needed. More doctors translate to more timely care, which, in turn, leads to better health outcomes.

The world can also use more doctors, especially in poorer countries where medical care is not as good. Free tuition means more doctors may be able to volunteer their time to go overseas to help treat people in countries where medical care may be lacking.

A gift like this can also result in the “pay it forward” effect, with others donating to similar causes.

In 2018, Michael Bloomberg donated $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to increase financial aid for middle to lower-income students.

Also in 2018, Ken and Elaine Langone donated $200 million to guarantee free full-tuition scholarships regardless of need to medical students at NYU Long Island School of Medicine.

These three gifts are transformational since they will change people’s lives. But while the sum of money being donated is quite large, it is not necessarily the amount that makes these gifts any more transformational than other gifts.

A transformational gift changes lives or circumstances in a significant way. We all can think of big-dollar items that would fit this category. But smaller insignificant acts can be transformational as well. And sometimes does not even involve donating money.

Examples abound from donating book supplies to schools that cannot afford them, to serving food at a homeless shelter. These acts are transformational to the people on the receiving end. Giving someone a chance by hiring them can also be transformational.

Several years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Raritan Valley Community College with a client wishing to start an endowment for students. At the time we were, like many people, skeptical that the size donation we were thinking of making would be “transformational.” Yet, as we listened to the Foundation officer tell us story after story about the students and how, for many, they were working one or two jobs in addition to going to college all to save up enough money for tuition or books, it became clearer that every bit mattered. No donation was too small. We helped our client set up the endowment, and today, eight years later, the number of students who have benefited from the endowment continues to grow.

So, if you think that making a transformational gift or act is beyond your means, reconsider. To you, it may seem like a small amount will not go far, but for the person or persons benefiting, it could make all the difference in the world.

We would love to talk with you about how best to give or donate to causes that are important to you and your family. Please contact us; we would happily discuss what works best for you.

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