Inspiring Arab-American Giving “You give but little when you give of your possessions.It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran
Philanthropy The voluntary giving of charitable donations or time in support of the common good. An engaging, sustained activity aimed at permanent social change.A rab Americans have long cherished the tradition of giving to family, neighbors and religious institutions. Deeply rootedin a culture that values community and family, Arab Americans havefounded community organizations, supported new immigrants andmet the humanitarian needs of Arabs in the Arab world. While ArabAmericans have always given informally, the community has onlyrecently embraced formal philanthropy as a way to empower ArabAmericans.After years of a difficult political climate, the Arab-American com-munity has experienced a renewal of community activism to addresslong-standing stereotypes of Arab Americans. Strategic philanthropyis one powerful way to promote a positive image of Arab-Americanparticipation in our country’s civic life. Through philanthropy, ArabAmericans are telling their own story about their contributions asAmericans and are building institutions to support Arab-Americanhistory, culture and leadership. They are saying that when we givestrategically, we strengthen the whole community.
This publication profiles five Arab-American philanthropistswho have inspired others through their leadership in givingand volunteerism. They give passionately with individual goalsbut a common commitment: empowering the Arab-Americancommunity. One message is clear: Arab Americans cannot affordto sit on the sidelines. Get involved. Whatever way you can, makea difference in our communities, our country and our world.This publication also highlights the important trends in Arab-American philanthropy as well as giving strategies and resources.We hope that you will be inspired by these stories and resourcesto give more deeply of your time and money. Now is the time tobuild upon the strength of the Arab-American community, and toforge new opportunities for individuals and the community. ?
“Generosity is not giving me that What is Arab-Americanwhich I need more philanthropy?than you do, but it • Arab-American giving priorities include supporting their families, religious institutions, education, youth is giving me that development and humanitarian aid • Arab-American giving is motivated by a strong which you need cultural commitment to family and community • Donors give to mainstream organizations, Arab- more than I do.” American organizations, and international causes – Kahlil Gibran How do Arab Americans give? • Arab Americans give primarily through cash donations, rather than the full range of financial vehicles • Arab Americans give generously of their time, but do not usually label this as “volunteering” • Arab Americans give generously in response to crises, particularly to civil liberties causes in the United States and humanitarian concerns in the Arab world What factors do Arab Americans consider when donating? • Arab Americans give when there is a personal relationship and trust has been built • Arab Americans carefully consider the leadership, accountability, programs and reputation of an organization before giving • After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Arab Americans focus on well-respected, well-known organizations in the community as a hedge against being targeted for their philanthropy
Giving StrategiesStrategic giving builds community bystrengthening the Arab-American voice andby addressing the challenges faced by ArabAmericans—and all Americans in need. Youcan give strategically in many different ways:• Regularly donate cash or assets to an effective Arab-American organization or to mainstream organizations• Volunteer your time in the Arab-American or mainstream community• Establish a giving circle with your friends and family, coordinating your giving on behalf of local community organizations• Start a giving program at your business that includes grants to Arab-American organizations and other non-profits• Establish a private foundation for you and your family to focus your giving• Establish a charitable trust, designating one or more non-profits or educational institutions as the beneficiary• Designate a non-profit organization as the beneficiary of an insurance policy
Houeida Saad Washington, DC S ince obtaining her law degree in 1992, Houeida Saad has given an enormous amount of her time, energy and money to defending hu- man rights. In a landmark case in 1999, Houeida represented a Palestinian man detained on secret evidence while in de- portation proceedings. Houeida donated over 2,000 hours and sold her house to finance her work because she believed in protecting due process and the con- stitutional rights of all people. “My client had no where else to turn,” says Houeida. After 19 months in custody, her client was released and the case set legal precedent when a federal judge held that detention based on secret evidence is a violation of due process. Saad on her research mission in Khaim, Lebanon in November, 2006. collaborationHoueida’s philosophy is that you do not need to Houeida’s philanthropic work began as a nursebe wealthy to give. “If you cannot give money, you working in international relief. Her passion is healthcan give your time and expertise” she says. And she and human rights. She is currently completing a prodoes, using her professional experience and time to bono project for the ADC Research Institute on themake a lasting impact. “It is important to balance Violations of International Law in Lebanon duringyour professional life and to give back to community the 2006 war.organizations. Our community cannot afford to not “Arab Americans must participate in the legalutilize our professional talent to the maximum.” and political process as a community. We cannot be Currently the Deputy General Counsel for Inova complacent and assume others will protect our civilHealth System in Northern Virginia, and Adjunct and human rights.” Houeida notes. As an immigrantProfessor at the Washington College of Law at Amer- herself, Houeida appreciates what this country hasican University, Houeida always finds time to give. given her. “Americans give whether through their“Every year I dedicate time to a non-profit organiza- work, wealth or wisdom, and I want to be a part oftion that can benefit from my work,” Houeida says. that,” she says. And judging by her actions, she is.
Jim JabaraPlymouth, MIF or Jim Jabara, the third child in a family of seven, philanthropy begins at home. “I start with thecommunity and try to set an examplefor others. Eventually, you can makechanges in your community and the communitysurrounding areas. Change does nothappen overnight.”Jim’s commitment to giving back to his community the Library and Chamber of Commerce boards andbegan as a teenager in his father’s grocery store in a recently started a Community Foundation in Ply-small town in northern Michigan. “Our father was a mouth to support local non-profits.very generous person. In a lot of instances, he gave Jim says, “When I get involved, I wear my na-credit to people, though he knew in his heart that tionality on my arm. A lot of people are afraid to dohe would not get paid.” Jim’s father instilled in him that. But when you get involved as an Arab American,a sense of responsibility to community. He also people look at you differently and, by being involved,taught his children the value of service and hard you break down the barriers and the discriminationwork. “Having been raised as a first generation that some people have about Arabs.”American with a strong work ethic was a plus that I Jim not only gives of his own time and financialdid not realize until later in life.” support, particularly to the Salvation Army, but he Jim first started giving back as a young man in uses his skills and experience to make the greatestGrand Rapids by helping elderly neighbors with impact on the community. “Giving time is an indica-outdoor chores in the winter and the summer. tion of your support and is an opportunity to be in-Since moving to Plymouth, Michigan in 1959, Jim volved in your community. For those who are unablehas started a Kiwanis Club, served on the board of to give their time, we ask for their financial support.directors of the Salvation Army for over 30 years, I believe that we take what life has to offer and givespent 16 years on the City Commission, served on some of it back.”
Wafa SalahBloomfield Hills, MIF rom the moment Wafa Salah ar- rived in the United States, she has been directing her energyand money to support organizationsworking for the good of Arabs and ArabAmericans. Whether it is the UnitedHoly Land Fund, the Detroit Chapterof the American-Arab Anti-Discrimina-tion Committee or ACCESS and theArab American National Museum, Wafa successis investing in building institutions thatsupport, strengthen and share the storyof the Arab-American community.Wafa’s philanthropic passion was shaped by her Wafa does more than get involved, she is a lead-experience with the 1967 war. “I saw the Palestin- er in giving and fundraising, especially for the Arabian refugees wading across the Jordan River with American National Museum (AANM). Currently,their belongings on their backs, escaping the war. Wafa chairs the Friends of the AANM committee inThis scene has been imprinted on my mind. The the greater Detroit area, a committee that has raisedtragedy of the Palestinian people has affected my over $500,000 for the AANM in the last two years.entire life.” “We are founding something, an institution that the Wafa has spent countless hours raising funds community is proud of. It is incredibly rewardingand supporting organizations that are building the when I see a goal materialize and I know that I havecapacity of the Arab-American community. “As a accomplished something. What a great feeling.”community, we constantly have to prove ourselves, “I feel very blessed. I have had the opportu-and this does not happen by doing nothing. We nity to meet some wonderful people and have madehave to be involved in order to make a better life for some incredible friends through my involvement. Iour children and ourselves,” Wafa says. “I am very have so many dreams for the future, and I hope tofocused in my giving and volunteerism. In part, this do so much more for our community.”is why I have achieved something.”
Sam SaadNaples, FLI f Sam Saad was to put a bumper stick- er on his car, it would simply read “Get ’er done!” A third generationLebanese American, Sam’s activism beganas a child when he handed out stickersand candy in parades for local candidates. serviceSince that time, he never passes up an op-portunity to share the concerns of ArabAmericans with policy makers.Most recently, Saad was active with the Network for I feel personally more fulfilled when I’m involved. IArab-American Professionals (NAAP) in Washing- would rather give my blood, sweat and tears.” Mostton, D.C., an organization bringing together Arab- importantly, Saad understands that change does notAmerican professionals for networking, celebration happen in communities overnight. “Why should weof Arab-American culture, and community service. get involved in our community? Because it is ourFor two years, Saad was the coordinator of the D.C. community. Your community is your neighborhood,chapter, the political director and the chair of NAAP’s your town, your state, your country and the wholeART TV show. At the peak of his involvement, Saad world, and in that order,” Saad says. “Leave a mark,was volunteering over 20 hours a week, in addition to no matter how small, on the society around you.”his full time job as special assistant to the Solicitor at Saad believes that the Arab-American commu-the Department of Labor. “I could have just written nity can build strength by getting involved. “Whena check to NAAP, so they would have money. But, it comes to integrating into American culture, par-I said I am going to every meeting, I am going to be ticipation is the key. Do something, volunteer forthere. I am going to do what I can.” an organization you think does good work, write Saad approaches all of his giving strategically. “I checks to organizations doing good work, or startlike to be involved and on the ground to see that my your own organization. That is the social fabric ofdecisions and my money are being used wisely. And, America.”
Betty Sams Bethesda, MD S hortly after marrying, Betty Sams and her late husband Jim became involved in community activities. Though without many resources at the time, Jim, a tax attorney, volunteered count- less hours in the 1960’s and 1970’s providing professional advice for new organizations that addressed needs in the Arab world and co-founded American Near East Refugee Aid, an organization still providing hu- vision manitarian services to Palestinian and other refugees in the Arab world.I t was during the 1980’s, when Betty and Jim underwrites a course on the Middle East at Sidwell became more established that they began to Friends School in Washington. The University contribute significantly to educational and of Michigan Law School has used the fund for in- cultural organizations. “Jim guided and edu- ternational conferences, scholarship aid and coursecated me,” Betty says. “I was more cautious than he. development. “There is little knowledge aboutHe was convinced that in order to have the kind of the Arab world, the people or the issues, and if weimpact that we wanted on how our money should be cannot address these as Arab Americans throughspent, it should be a significant amount.” volunteer efforts, or through strengthening ex- With a strong commitment to education and a isting educational institutions, then who will?”consciousness of their heritage, the Sams have given Betty says.to their alma maters to provide programming and In addition to giving to educational institutionscurriculum on the Arab world. Betty says, “With and the Arab world, Betty gives to organizations wherethe funds we established at the educational institu- she has a strong personal commitment, such as thetions, we always gave them flexibility. We do not Washington National Opera, the Smithsonian Ameri-lock them solely into programming on the Middle can Art Museum and The Grameen Foundation.East, but we advise that those are our interests. All Betty’s commitment is more than just givinghave respected our wishes.” money. “Jim and I have always been workers, as At Northwestern University, the Sams funded a well as givers. The good news is that our youngerspeaker’s program with experts on the Middle East. generation is becoming more and more involved inThrough the Sam’s giving, Smith College digitized how funds are spent. It is encouraging more trans-a collection of photos from the Middle East from parency in organizations and responsible leadershipthe 1800’s to the 1940’s. A portion of a faculty salary at all levels.”
The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) is a network of local,independent Arab-American social service organizations. The Network’s primary missionis the development of institutions that can meet the needs and represent the concerns ofArab Americans locally, while collectively addressing these concerns nationally. The Network supports the development of financially strong and effectively man-aged community-based organizations through a broad range of programs. By leverag-ing the collective efforts of its members, the Network is able to improve the lives oflocal communities, and empower the Arab-American community nationally. The Collaborative for Arab-American Philanthropy, a Network program, is the firstinitiative to build community strength by supporting strategic philanthropy in the Arab-American community. The Network encourages service and volunteerism through theNational Arab-American Service Day, held annually in 15 cities across the country. The Network is a project of the Arab Community Center for Economic and SocialServices (ACCESS) in Dearborn, Michigan. For more information about strategic giving, resources and assistance contact theCollaborative for Arab-American Philanthropy at: 2601 Saulino Court • Dearborn, Michigan 48120 www.nnaac.org Jamie Kim, Director, Collaborative for Arab-American Philanthropy (313) 842-7010 • email@example.com Major support for this publication was contributed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the C.S Mott Foundation.
MEMBERSArab American AACCESS ACCESS Arab AmericanAction Network Cleveland, OH Dearborn, MI Association ofChicago, IL New York Arab-American Arab-American Brooklyn, NYArab Cultural and Cultural and Family SupportCommunity Center Community Center Center Arab AmericanSan Francisco, CA Houston, TX Brooklyn, NY Family Services Chicago, ILAmerican-Arab Access California GLAASSHeritage Council Services Lansing, MI PARTNERINGFlint, MI Anaheim, CA ORGANIZATION Philadelphia Alif Institute Arab AmericanArab American Arab-American Institute FoundationCommunity Center Atlanta, GA Community Washington, DCOrlando, FL Development Corp. Philadelphia, PA