Spotlight: Mari Kuraishi
Title: Co-founder and President, GlobalGiving.org
Hometown: DC (Born in Shizuoka, Japan)
Your first charitable work: Volunteering in a NYC soup kitchen on Thanksgiving after 9/11
Personal Twitter/Instagram handle: mashenka
Organizations Twitter handle/IG handle: GlobalGiving
Q: Who is your philanthropic/charitable role model?
A: Eleanor Roosevelt (I realize she wasn't exclusively philanthropic, but she was engaged with the world in a way that I think was remarkable).
Q: If you could start your own organization (or a second one), what would it do/focus on?
A: Finding a way to get better outcomes from public funding of primary and secondary education
Q: Describe your giving philosophy in three words?
A: Giving without expectation
Q: How do you fit in time for the causes you care about?
A: By giving money, by serving on boards, and most of all by working at GlobalGiving where I get to wholesale supporting thousands of organizations in over 150 countries.
Q: Who in your own life inspires you by their generous work or actions? Give us two examples.
A: My husband Dennis for having the most generous personal reactions to any person he meets. My boss Fran Hauser for just finding us one day out of the 1 million+ nonprofits in the US and saying, can I help you grow? She's chair of the GlobalGiving board. She's an incredibly thoughtful (and subtle) leader of the board, but I also think that the way she has shaped her career--from moviefone to AOL to Time-Warner to Rothenburg (VC)--is a rare thing. Most women I know who have achieved a lot have tended to come out of structured progress through the ranks. She's a rare woman who has taken charge.
Q: Who would you like to hear from in our next Philanthropy Friday interview?
A: Becky Snyder Fawcett, who runs HelpUsAdopt.org. For those of us who go through [the adoption process], there's a knowing commiseration about how the paperwork is onerous, and the waiting periods agonizing and common shock at how expensive the process can be. But there's reluctance amongst us to talk much about it outside of our circles. As a result we all suffer in silence--but more importantly, there are many many people who would make amazing parents but are priced or bandwidth-ed out of the process. Which is to say some amazing kids don't get adopted. Becky, bless her, is the only person who's chosen to do something about it. I think that's amazing.
Q: Any advice for women who want to be doing more to give back but can't figure out a path?
A: I'd say start by finding the easiest opportunity to do it. If some young alumna of your college reaches out to ask you for an informational interview, do it. If a friend invites you to join them at a fundraising lunch for an organization she's involved in, say yes. It's much easier to go that route than to tell yourself you have to find a cause you believe in, research it, and go find the right organization to volunteer at or give money to. Like much in life, giving back is a habit you develop. You do it enough times the right opportunity will start coming up.