People & Inspiration

In Focus: Rediscover the Art of Giving with These Tips from Philanthropy Advisor Jenny Santi

In Focus: Rediscover the Art of Giving with These Tips from Philanthropy Advisor Jenny Santi

You know how the saying goes: ‘"It is better to give than to receive," and author Jenny Santi gives a much broader meaning to it with her book The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories & Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving. Born and raised in Manila, Jenny eventually found her way to New York where, in 2007, she began an unusual career as a philanthropy advisor. And it’s through this job that she met people with different backgrounds and from all walks of life, each with an inspiring story to tell on how giving has changed their lives. From Academy award winner Goldie Hawn, to iconic Supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns, to Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, these people are just among many others who have shared with her their firsthand account in the hopes of touching other people's lives.


One of the many people who shared their stories in the book is Czech Supermodel Petra Nemcova. “Her story beautifully illustrates how giving can help us find renewed strength amidst the most difficult circumstances. Petra Nemcova, a supermodel who has done Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated campaigns, was vacationing in Khao Lak, Thailand in December 2004, with her fiancé Simon when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit. Simon was swept away by the current and never seen again; while Petra broke her pelvis and was told she might never walk again.  Barely a year after the tsunami, and still recovering from her physical and emotional wounds, guess what she did? She went back to Thailand. She set up the Happy Hearts Fund with the vision of rebuilding schools and the lives of young victims of natural disasters. She transformed her grief into a life raft of inner strength, a new passion for life, and a completely changed outlook. She told me that by giving, 'you can heal faster emotionally, but also physically. You can have an impact on many lives and you can bring joy to the lives of others. There’s a selfish element in it, really. When we make someone happy, we become even happier.'”

Jenny Santi with Supermodel Petra Nemcova


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Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Indeed many of us who are feeling lost and don't really know what to do in life, or how to move on from a devastating occurence, have rediscovered their true self and found a purpose either by giving or through the generosity of others. But while giving really does help us have a more positive outlook in life, not all are inclined to doing it, so Jenny shares five tips for those who, as much as they want to give, find it harder than most to extend a helping hand:

1. Find your passion.

2. Give your time.

3. Give to organizations with transparent aims and results, allow yourself hands-on opportunities to experience those changes you’re helping make happen.

4. Integrate your interests and skills with the needs of others.

5. Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t be guilt-tripped into giving.


How does Jenny do it? "Make your passion the foundation for your giving. It's not how much you give but how much love you put into it."

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