Young Professionals Look To The Central Florida Foundation For Giving Wisdom

August 15 2015


Avani Desai didn’t grow up in a philanthropic household. Her parents were immigrants from India and had to focus on providing for their own family and didn’t have the means to give. When they did give, it went back to their home country. Giving wasn’t part of their lifestyle at the time. It just wasn’t on their minds.

Today, Avani, an executive at an IT Compliance firm, and her husband Neeraj, a Maternal Fetal Medicine physician, are at the point in their lives where they are financially able to give back. They want to be able to give back so they can show their two young children doing something for the community you live in and returning the favor to those who have helped you are important. Everyone takes from society, and giving back is one way to show a sense of appreciation. The Desais recently went on a family trip to another country and their four-year-old son saw a homeless situation for the first time. It was a shock to him and Avani had to explain to him that not everyone is blessed with a comfortable life and thought it was time to introduce her children to the idea of giving back.

“Our children are somewhat sheltered, and we want them to know the “real” world around them,” said Avani. “We plan to integrate them into the Central Florida community and have them roll up their sleeves to help. Our ultimate goal is to raise our children to be genuine and kind people who understand and want to help others.”

Their historical giving consisted of distributing a little bit of money here and there, based on what was tugging at their heartstrings. Both Avani and Neeraj feel very passionate about women’s and children’s issues but wanted more strategy behind their giving. They are eager to be more impactful in Central Florida and didn’t know where to focus their efforts. Their tax accountant asked them if they had ever thought about working with a foundation. They hadn’t, but thought it was the right first step, so Avani came to meet with the Central Florida Foundation staff.

The Central Florida Foundation offers a variety of ways for people to experience the joy of giving. Whether they want to teach family philanthropy, address their community’s greatest needs, support something they are passionate about, provide scholarships for students, honor a loved one’s memory, or help create sustainability for the nonprofit organization or cause they care about most, the staff at the Foundation can provide highly personalized service, tailored to their charitable interests and goals.

Avani and her husband opened an advised fund and are looking to be conservative in their giving. They want to fund specific issues over a longer period of time and are excited to explore areas of giving. Philanthropy for the Desais also means more than giving money, it means giving their time in addition to dollars to help others.

“We want to use our skills to help others,” said Avani. “My husband is a high-risk OB/GYN and he has an opportunity to help women and children on a daily basis which is very satisfying and I look forward to assisting with that cause.”

The Desais also want to keep their giving in their community, which is why they find it important to partner with the Central Florida Foundation. Most importantly, they want to be an integral part of the places they invest in for the long term. The fact that more than 400 individuals, families and corporations have worked with the Foundation over time appealed to them.

“We picked the Central Florida Foundation because of its community connection,” said Avani. “Our family will live here for the long term and we want to put roots here. We have already met wonderful people and we know Orlando is a great place to raise our family. I find it refreshing for the soul to meet people who have the same desire to do good.”

The Foundation staff assists the family with connecting their passion to causes and organizations that they care about in the community. They make giving easy by handling the administrative details, compliance and due diligence, while providing financial benefits and expert giving advice, creating stronger giving and greater impact.

It was easy for Avani to set up the fund at the Central Florida Foundation. She went to the website and filled out a form to get more information.

“My advice is to make the effort to go to the Foundation and meet other working women,” said Avani. “The easy part is to just write a check and set up a fund, but I found it so much more meaningful to talk to several people. Everyone’s giving strategy is different and we learned so much from talking to people about their reasons for philanthropy.”

Avani says the important questions to ask are, “where are we financially?” and “who/what do we want to impact?” She also thinks that learning from others and knowing your options are two good places to start.

“The earlier, the better,” said Avani. “I didn’t think about the Central Florida Foundation because I thought I had to put a lot more money into a fund, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I think that’s a common misconception with a lot of young people. Creating a fund and giving is easier than they think.”

She is a big fan of Nonprofit Search, a searchable database of portraits with information provided by nonprofits and validated by the Foundation staff. It is designed to help donors easily find organizations they want to research in order to make stronger giving decisions. Each portrait provides in-depth information about a nonprofit’s management, governance, financial health and programs. A portrait’s content can inform strategic financial investments and educate about quality of life issues that impact the community.

“I am an auditor by trade so researching the liquidity of companies is in my blood, therefore I wanted to be sure investments going to an organization are going to the right place,” said Avani. She loves using Nonprofit Search to be an informed philanthropist. “It makes me feel more trust and assurance with where my funds are going.”

She says young people don’t always give because they think it’s not easy or takes a lot of time. She says the Foundation helps keep things top of mind and makes giving easy.

Her suggestion is to take a tour of the Foundation, do a meet and greet and talk to someone else who has practiced philanthropy before. She was impressed with the staff’s deep knowledge of the community and the organizations addressing them.

“They will even come into your home or you can visit them,” said Avani. “Read what we’ve done, see what other people have done and just get educated. It helps make sense to talk to others.”

Avani is happy to talk to other young professionals considering starting a fund and trying to focus their philanthropy.

“We still don’t have all of our philanthropy figured out yet, but we know that we want to create deep roots in the community and make a conscious effort to give back,” says Avani. “You can be young and set up a fund without even knowing exactly where you want to give, and the Foundation staff is here to help you in every way possible. Anyone can create a fund, so give it a try. Call the Foundation today or simply fill out the form on the website like I did for more information. You will be glad that you did.”