President Mason Inspires Fundraisers On National Philanthropy Day

President Mason Inspires Fundraisers On National Philanthropy Day

President Mason Inspires Fundraisers On National Philanthropy Day

On Monday, November 19, President Karol V. Mason helped observe National Philanthropy Day at a breakfast held by the Association of Fundraising Professionals New York City Chapter. The morning event had four “storytellers” inspiring the audience with their experiences in philanthropy: President Mason; Tammy Tibbetts, Co-Founder & CEO She’s the Firsts; Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA); Eduardo Vilero, Artistic Director & CEO of Ballet Hispánico; and Veronica Dagher, the event’s emcee and host of the podcast “Secrets of Wealthy Women.”

“I tell people that I have no shame asking for money, because I want you to feel as good as I do.” —Karol V. Mason

Mason was the first to kick off the stories, and she wasted no time telling the crowd where she got her first experience in fundraising. “How many of you remember Jerry Lewis telethons? I grew up excited about Labor Day weekend when my brothers and I could stay up watching the telethon,” said Mason. “We each wanted to make our own call to give in the telethon, and watch that number go up. That was my formative experience in giving money.” She went on to explain how she honed her fundraising skills at her alma mater, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and when she raised money for President Barack Obama. “When I first started raising money for President Obama, I did it because he was a friend,” said Mason. “Then I was invited to join his national development council—which is a fancy word for big fundraiser—and I got home and wondered, What am I going to do? My best friend Valerie Jarrett said, ‘Honey, you’re competitive, you’ll be fine.’ And that was it.” Mason nurtured a friendly competition with her fundraising counterpart, and raised millions of dollars.

But she told the audience that fundraising for John Jay holds a special place in her heart because of the students, their stories, and what they represent. “I’m not ashamed of crying,” Mason said. “We had a young man come and say how he had been involved in the criminal justice system, and now John Jay’s Pre-Law Institute gives his life meaning and purpose. It’s those stories that get me up in the morning every day. I tell people that I have no shame asking for money, because I want you to feel as good as I do.”

“I’m at the age where it’s not about achieving things anymore. It’s about what am I going to do, so that when I look back I can be proud of who I helped lift up.” —Karol V. Mason

For Mason, philanthropy gives your life meaning. It’s helping you leave something behind, something that’s changing the world and making it a better place. Helping students at John Jay is a way to feel connected, giving you an opportunity to make someone’s life better. “I’m 61 and proud of it. I’m at the age where it’s not about achieving things anymore,” said Mason. “It’s about what am I going to do, so that when I look back, I can be proud of who I helped lift up.”

The audience went on to hear how Tibbett created opportunities for young women around the world—from students fighting to be the first female presidents of their organizations in Tanzania, to an 8-year-old girl raising thousands of dollars with a “cheese curd crawl” in Wisconsin. Jones Austin made the connection from church and synagogue collection plates to today’s modern fundraising efforts. Using the biblical quote, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” Jones Austin explained that philanthropy helps people “learn how to fish.” And in true dancer fashion, Vilero got the crowd on their feet with a few energizing dance moves before he took us on his journey from artist to fundraiser.

At the end of the event, every fundraising professional in the room felt more energized to do what they do best, support worthy organizations, activities, and institutions like John Jay. “It’s making a difference in the world, letting people see how their contributions can truly help somebody else succeed,” said Mason.