AABP Award 728x90

Three local women outline plans for philanthropic giving


Jan Miller Straub wasn’t born into a family of philanthropists, but learned the value of giving through volunteer work.

“As a volunteer, I got into the committee structure,” she said. “On committees, I got into the board structure. On boards, I learned that you have to give money to raise money.”

Straub is president of Straub Corp. and devotes many of her leisure hours to YMCA, the American Cancer Society and the John Stoddard Cancer Center. She will join Dr. Paula Mahone and Staci Wildebour Appel in a panel discussion during the second annual Women in Philanthropy luncheon Nov. 7 at the Renaissance Savery Hotel.     Straub said she’s not a likely panelist.   “I’m not one of the people you traditionally think of when you discuss philanthropy [in Des Moines],” she said. “There’s such a small nucleus, and we need to broaden it.

“The point is that whether you give $1,000, $500 or $100, you can still make a difference. There are different levels at which one can get involved. We can give, talk it up, serve as ambassadors and raise our children to know their role in the community.”

“I totally agree,” said Appel, a former stockbroker who’s now a stay-at-home mom. “We’ve got little guys. Last Christmas, we explained to them that we wanted to give money to groups that needed it. We gave them a few choices and let them pick. Eventually, they’ll get to choose which organizations the money goes to on their own. It’s important to start young.”

Like Straub, Mahone was raised in a family that wasn’t active in philanthropy. Now that she is financially secure enough to contribute to charities, she feels it’s a responsibility to be taken seriously.

“A few years ago, my husband and I had to make choices about how we would budget our money,” Mahone said. “Many generations of my family didn’t have the money to give. When our income decreased significantly, I wanted to maintain the amount that I was giving to charity. It was imperative.”

She said that as an African-American known for philanthropic giving, she is sought out by almost every committee seeking diversity. All three women said that to be effective, they must limit their giving to the charities closest to their hearts.

“I try to look for organizations that do their jobs well,” Mahone said. “I ask myself, ‘What groups are getting results, or almost getting results? What group can I make more efficient?'”

“It’s important to give money and time,” Appel said. “Just having that warm touch, that conversation, is so important. A lot of people think they just can’t do it. We lead such crazy lives, but it makes a big difference. I started out with an at-risk children’s program. I’ve been working with [Mentor Iowa] for 12 or 13 years, and eventually I wanted to support my own effort.”

Straub says that women need to create a strategy for giving, rather than donating a small amount of money to each charity that comes along.

“Traditionally, as women, we haven’t been raised to give substantial gifts,” she said. “I can remember a time when women had to consult their husbands.

“We’re just getting used to making our own contribution decisions, but we haven’t been told that giving $25 or $50 to a charity isn’t sufficient. If that’s the most you can give, great, but if you’re giving a small amount to several charities, you aren’t doing anybody any favors. Find the few charities that you really care about and give a substantial gift. People need to learn to give at their best level.”  

isubiz web 100123 300x250