“We live in extraordinary times where everything is challenging—and yet everything is possible.” – Nancy Farese
On Monday, November 9th, New England International Donors (NEID) held its 2nd annual fundraiser at Artists for Humanity in Boston, bringing together NEID members and their guests to discuss some of the most pressing global challenges of our time, and how our individual actions can collectively work to address them. NEID is a membership-based organization staffed and administered by TPI’s Center for Global Philanthropy that brings together donors interested in or already giving internationally.
Monday night’s event was an inspiring evening, guided by the theme of art as inspiration for action. Keynote speaker Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, embodies this theme completely, as a master storyteller whose books have inspired the philanthropic journeys of many, including that of NEID co-founder, Karen Ansara.
The evening began with a fundraising sale of 25 beautiful photographs generously donated by NEID member and photo-philanthropist Nancy Farese of Catchlight, an organization that helps photographers share their work with the goal of inciting philanthropic action. The images, which were taken in Haiti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, India, and Peru, exemplify how powerful the combination of art and philanthropy can be. Many of the photos include images of children, and juxtapose feelings of hopelessness and desperation with those of joy and vitality. In her remarks, Farese invoked the powerful words of Howard Thurman, saying “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Both Farese’s photographs and Kidder’s writing serve as calls to action, reminding everyone in attendance on Monday of the impact they can create through their giving around the world.
During dinner, table discussions revolved around a central question of the night, “How have you been inspired to act by a work of art, a film, or a book?” Many NEID members and guests recounted specific times when a piece of art changed how they viewed the world and motivated them to try to increase the impact of their philanthropy. As everyone shared their personal experiences connecting art and philanthropy, it became clear how big a role art and artists play in how the world is perceived, and how influential books, movies, and other forms of artwork are in shaping the international giving landscape.
NEID’s “core reason for being,” according to Karen Ansara, is “to inspire each other’s commitment to use our resources to change the world.” On Monday night, that inspiration was harnessed and displayed in a pledging session led by NEID Steering Committee member Sasha Chanoff of RefugePoint. For 15 minutes, NEID members and their guests came together to raise funds and inspire each other to give to two organizations addressing critical needs related to the Syrian refugee crisis. The Center for Civil Society and Democracy (CCSD) and the Middle East Children’s Institute (MECI) are actively working in Syria and surrounding countries to address both long- and short-term needs of the over seven million people displaced by the conflict. It was a moving display of commitment and understanding of how impactful NEID and its members can be.
Thank you to everyone who joined the celebration on Monday. It was truly a special evening, and served as a dynamic reminder of the important role that NEID and organizations like it can play in framing how and why Americans give internationally. As Nancy Farese prompted everyone in her closing, “Start anywhere; just start now. We need you.”
Click here for more information about NEID or to become a member.