A note from Lou Giramma, Aspire's CEO

Philanthropy is our essence as an organization. It is that which drives our mission and the supports and services we deliver. We are not just engaging in philanthropy, we’re building a culture of philanthropy.   

The word philanthropy literally means goodwill toward others and active effort to promote human welfare. I see philanthropy occurring every day as each member of our community gives of themselves, their time, their energy, and their resources to make life better for those we serve, and for each other.  

Philanthropy also means raising funds. We are seeing many more opportunities for Aspire to innovate and increase our positive impact with the people we support and on the communities in which we operate.  At the same time, our business contracts are leaner and less generous than in the past. Historically, our contracts were enough to enable us to grow and innovate. Now, though, the cost of delivering excellent and cutting-edge service exceeds what funders are willing to pay. In order to take on new and innovative work, we must present donors the opportunity to invest in Aspire.  

This year, we are actively fundraising for operating expenses in our adult programs, to help meet our commitment to increasing wages for all DSPs across the agency. This goal, though beyond what our contracts allow, is one that reflects the value we place on our vital workforce. We are also applying for grants to support our foster care program, where funding falls well short of what is needed to prepare foster children to enter the adult world. We are seeking support for our initiative to give every employee a great manager, which is starting its roll-out this spring. Proposals for after-school programming and funding to support our children’s programs are in process as well.  

Every member of the Aspire community is an ambassador in our philanthropy efforts. Donors can be any current or new member of our community who sees the enormous value of our mission and vision. Donors want to help—they’re looking for ways to increase their impact in the world. They cannot do it alone, and neither can we. Whenever you talk with someone about the value of your work, you are presenting them with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others in their community.  

It’s important for each of us to talk about our work, in terms of the impact we are having. Share your successes and challenges with your colleagues. Tell your friends and family about the incredible work that you do. If you see something great happening, share your thoughts with the community—when you socialize, during meetings, on Yammer. Through these conversations about our work of goodwill towards others and the promotion of human welfare, a culture of philanthropy will develop, grow, and prosper.  

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A Culture of Philanthropy