On Friday, May 15, 2009, The Beautiful Foundation USA (BF USA) held its 3rd annual gala at Double Tree Hotel in Fort Lee, NJ. Approximately 400 gathered to celebrate the event. BF USA is a community foundation. It receives funds from individuals and corporations and distributes them to charitible organizations for the purposes and causes that are attached to the funds given to the foundation. In light of the current economic uncertainties, the gala was a great turnout and great success.
They give Shinhan Beautiful Spirit Awards to those who are giving their time and love to the less fortunate with dedication and commitment, without seeking to be recognized. For example, one senior lady who has given an average of four hours a day for the past 22 years, totaling over 9,000 hours. She is old and weak, but is going for 10,000 hours. A beautiful spirit and mind.
Unlike many organizations, BF USA established the board of ambassadors, comprising next generation young people who will be groomed over time to succeed the spirit of giving through the community foundation. A commendable move by the board that is only three years young. There is no genuine success without successful succession.
I had the honor of delivering the keynote speech. The speech was related to this year's theme "Beyond Charity Toward Change." The speech went basically like this...
Giving is beautiful... because it is coming out of beautiful hearts. Beautiful hearts make the society become more beautiful despite crimes, wrongdoings, wars, frauds, tragedies, etc.
Giving can gain tremendous value and meaning with a clear purpose spelled out in it, leading to substantail change in the lives of people and the society. I would call it Transformational Giving.
Transformational giving takes giving beyond charity. For example, if we give a fish to a hungry man, his hunger will have been satisfied, but only for a meal. If we give him a fish and teach him how to catch fish, he and his family will be able to feed themselves for the rest of their lives. It is a transformational giving.
[L to R: Gala Chair Mr. Cho, BF USA CEO Jennifer Oh, BF Korea Founder Mr. Won Soon Park, Kristin, Jeffrey, Henry Kang and Mrs. Kang]
Transformational giving has four characteristics.
First, it has one's commitment. The commitment to give under any circumstances. The commitment to give not only treasure but also time and talent. The commitment to make a difference through giving.
Second, it is giving forward, beyond giving back. Giving forward implies a proactive investment into the future.
Third, it is sacrificial. Sacrifice is not giving what is left over, but giving what is precious to me. Sacrifice comes from total commitment.
Fourth, it is continuing and sustainable. Transformational giving is not a 50-meter dash but a marathon. It is not an one-time activity or transaction for a selfish reason, but it is a continuing event no matter what the circumstance may be.
Yes, we can. We can decide, We can change. We can transform. We can give transformationally. Now and here. Only if we choose to.
Thank you for listening. - Jeffrey Lee