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JCF Blog

Play is the Highest Form of Research

Posted by: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford on 5/8/2017

Play is the highest form of research.”
Albert Einstein

Play comes naturally to us. Since our childhood, play helps us learn through collaboration,exploration and experience. Play is a fantastic way for us to problem solve,learn new procedures and practice new skills in a safe, nurturing environment.

This is especially true for ideas that are complex. 

Play It Forward, an endowment game created by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, presents an opportunity to explore and practice new ideas, possibilities and consequences of philanthropy. The concept of endowment in the abstract can feel overwhelming. Play It Forward gives people a hands-on experience of how endowment makes a difference in perpetuity.  Participants gain a deeper understanding of themselves as philanthropists, as well as how to create permanent, sustainable impact in the world. There are no winners and losers, just a lot of questions and some soul searching.

In a setting created for participants to have fun while learning about the power of endowment, how we make philanthropic choices, and experience the impact of those choices, Play It Forward gives us opportunities for self-reflection. With a facilitated discussion and interactive play, you can explore your values, priorities,behaviors, and influences when making philanthropic decisions.

With an estimated 1.5 million nonprofits in the US and a rough estimate of over 10 million nonprofits in the world, we are overwhelmed by the many choices we have for our charitable dollars. Solicitations pour into our homes, phones, and computers. As our world gets smaller and its issues get closer to home, we are exposed to a proliferation of nonprofits and the incredible work they do.

Our family and friends have causes they care deeply about and the philanthropic landscape becomes more and more complicated as we consider our own philanthropy. 

As I facilitated the values reflection portion of the game,I thought of my own priorities and questioned if my philanthropy does in fact reflect those values.  In deciding on the many causes we would use during play, I realized that I place a high value on supporting efforts to advance the lives of women and girls locally, in Israel,and around the world. Education and financial independence for women and girls became one of my priorities. My philanthropy shifted and I volunteered to be a budget coach for United Way. Through this process, I discovered a passion that is deeply meaningful.

So often, we are not aware of the right questions to ask ourselves to gain clarity in these very important decisions. It is difficult for us to decide where to give, how much to give and what type of impact is important to us.

As donors and philanthropists, we have the right to take our time and consider all aspects of our decisions. We have the responsibility to educate ourselves and to understand what is meaningful to us. In the end, our charity should make us feel good. It is our responsibility to heal the world in the most personal and meaningful way we can.

Play It Forward is a valuable game for us to experience as we create our own culture of philanthropy as individuals, families, or organizations.

I invite you to call me, Rise Roth 860-523-7460, to discuss how we can arrange for you to Play It Forward.

Rise Roth is VP, Philanthropy at the Jewish Community Foundation.

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Fred Molod
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Informative, interesting, well written, and creates a desire to learn more about a subject many of us think about. Particularly valuable as age moves along.
Jodi Greenspan
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Innovative, informative and fun...What could be better?
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