Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen

The Limitless Potential of Giving

In 1955, a young man with an irrepressible will and a voracious appetite for learning embarked on a degree at Stanford University. One of five children born and raised in Inglewood, California, he’s now among Silicon Valley’s most active real estate developers and one of America’s most generous philanthropists. His latest act of generosity, announced last week, is the remarkable gift of $151 million to Stanford University, its largest ever from a living donor.

Philanthropy and the Wild West

With 13 years of teaching philanthropy at Stanford Graduate School of Business behind me, I’ve designed Giving 2.0 ProjectU as an open-source initiative that will make 100 percent of my research, case studies and teaching materials available for free online to any educator wanting to teach philanthropy and any student wanting to learn about it.

Giving Your Way to Happiness

Sex and giving — what do these two things have in common? They both feel fantastic! In fact, giving stimulates the same part of the brain that is charged up when we have sex. No wonder it’s addictive. Like giving, making love reflects our passion, but it often happens in a spontaneous, unplanned way. Given the right person and the right moment, this is a beautiful thing. But with giving? Not so much. Philanthropic dollars are precious resources, so it’s our responsibility to consider how we use them carefully. Yet few of us spend enough time doing so.

Expressing the Divine (Part 2) - Worship through Giving

But another way to take religious giving to a whole new level—increasing not only your social impact through your philanthropic activities, but also your spiritual impact—is by starting new giving activities at your place of worship (or enhancing existing ones). Here are some quick and easy ideas:

Expressing the Divine (Part 1) - Tenets into Transformation

Regardless of what we believe, how we found our faith, or to which religious community we belong, giving unites us. We may agree or disagree on the details. In some parts of the world, we may even lack the freedom to practice our religion. But we can all express ourselves through our generosity to others—whether through an hour of our time, a meal from our table, or a gift of money. In fact, the one value that we can all share, whatever our faith, is that giving to others should be a driving force of a life greatly lived.

Raising Giving Children (Part 1 ) - The Apple Falls Not Far from the Giving Tree

The message is clear—the sooner you engage your children in meaningful giving, the sooner they will begin their own giving lives–a win for them and a win for our world. When you give as a family, not only are you sharing the happiness that giving brings you by watching it translate into positive change, but you are also transmitting your giving values to your children by engaging them in the giving process itself.

How Innovation Can Fuel Your Giving

The way we are currently giving is not making a big enough dent in these problems. We give with our heart, our most powerful engine for action. However, this engine alone is not enough—it needs fuel and that fuel is innovation. We must strive to make every gift, regardless of its size or form, create the greatest possible impact.

Welcome to LAAF!

Welcome to LAAF – I’m delighted you’ve come to our virtual home for givers globally!

Every day, millions of ordinary people exhibit extraordinary generosity. You and I are among them. Giving inspires our thoughts, reflects our beliefs, and fills our hearts. It brings meaning to our lives, channels gratitude for our blessings, and gives us hope for the future. We give because we want to touch the lives of others–and in the process, our own lives are forever enhanced.

As givers, we’re part of a democratic movement that embraces anyone with generosity. Givers come from a vast spectrum of professions, ages, religions, income brackets, backgrounds, and beliefs. It excludes no one. And even if we can’t donate financially, spontaneous gestures of kindness, strategic acts that promote social transformation, and productive hours of time are equally valuable gifts. It’s all about sharing expertise, expressing compassion, and translating values into positive change.

LAAF is here to help you make your giving—in any form or amount—have a bigger impact on both you and on the people whose lives you hope to improve or the problems you want to help solve. My hope is that the ideas, resources, knowledge, and tools presented in Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World (Wiley/Jossey-Bass, October 25, 2011) and the LAAF blog and website will inspire, educate, and empower you on your giving journey. LAAF exists to help you become ambitious, innovative, and effective. For the bigger the impact you see through your giving, the more you’ll want to give.

The best part about giving is that its only limitation is your vision. So imagine what a cleaner, healthier, happier, more equitable world might look like and start taking steps to make it a beautiful reality. You can make tomorrow better—and you can start doing so today.

In giving spirit,
Laura A-A