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Three Giving Lessons from a Summer at Amplifier



Before beginning the summer as Amplifier’s first and only intern, I’m not sure I had ever even heard of “collaborative giving.” Now, after 10 enriching, empowering, and fun weeks, my perception of philanthropy has drastically transformed and expanded, and undoubtedly for the better. Here are some of my major takeaways.

1. Giving is for everybody!


Before Amplifier, my experiences with philanthropy had been few and far between. I had witnessed organizations hosting fancy galas, famous entrepreneurs pledging millions of dollars, and GoFundMe crowdsourcing campaigns. Essentially, my impression was that philanthropic giving was only accessible to those who had tons of money or networks of at least a hundred people. While these are viable options for giving, with Amplifier, I have learned that anyone can give. It is not simply about the amount pledged, but also the intention with which the donation is made. Knowing not only where the money is going but also why it is going there makes all the difference.


2. There is no wrong way to give.

I have experienced such a wide array of what Amplifier’s work does, that when I start talking about the organization I preface with this: It isn’t a question of what Amplifier does do, it’s more so about what it doesn’t do. I have loved working in this office for many reasons, but one of my favorites is that this is a “yes, and…” environment. Amplifier wants its participants, leaders, and partners to succeed and make their visions come to life, whatever they may be. As long as you are giving together, you are giving better, and Amplifier’s flexibility helps its diverse partners, giving circles, and community members achieve just that. 


Laurel and Mollie celebrating Laurel's CLIP graduation3. I am not done with this work. 

These past 10 weeks at Amplifier have been so illuminating for me. From working on developing new materials and talking with folks who have experienced Amplifier’s programming, to running a pop-up giving circle for my fellow CLIP participants, I have learned so much about what giving means at all levels: personally, professionally, locally, and globally. There is so much power in coming together to have values-based conversations. In a world that can, at times, make us feel hopeless, there is nothing that inspires hope more than grounding ourselves in something that helps others. 

One of the most important moments for me this summer was when I hosted a pop-up giving circle for my fellow CLIP-terns. Explaining what Amplifier does and then leading a program showed me how much I really had learned this summer. Seeing people my age partake in this work exemplified Amplifier’s mission that anyone can give, and why they should. In planning for the future, I hope to host a pop-up giving circle for my parents and their friends. I am so excited to bring this work back to the Bay Area and expose my loved ones to the incredible work that Amplifier and giving circles in general are doing. 


Laurel Ettinger is a senior at Tulane University, studying Political Science, Spanish, and Gender Studies. She is an aspiring future English teacher. In 2019, Laurel interned for Amplifier through Collegiate Leadership Internship Program (CLIP), hosted by NYU’s Bronfman Center.

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