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Guest Post: Srilatha Lakkaraju on “Adding Personal Flair to Your Philanthropy”

September 10, 2009

We are so excited to have a guest post from Srilatha Lakkaraju today.  She focuses here on how South Asians in North America can personalize their own giving and volunteering.

c/o Thoughtful Philanthropy blog

(Image c/o Thoughtful Philanthropy blog)

Add Personal Flair to Your Philanthropy

The progression from education to career is a natural step for many of us. Years and dollars spent in the classroom are intended as investments in our professional development.  As our success grows, we evolve our investments into families and financial assets. While many of us stop there, we need to realize that we have the privilege, and the opportunity, to go one easy step further and invest in the community.

Despite common assumptions about philanthropy and volunteerism, opportunities exist for individuals who wish to satisfy their intellectual and professional development needs while serving those less fortunate. Volunteerism extends far beyond the noble but conventional efforts of feeding the hungry, clothing the needy or donating to relief efforts. Professional interests and intellectual curiosity do not have to halt at philanthropy. Deliberate and well-researched volunteer efforts can be an extension of your professional passion. Whatever your industry may be, volunteer and philanthropic opportunities exist which utilize the skills you use on a daily basis.  Add personal flair to your philanthropy by participating in activities which satisfy your professional interests and utilize your greatest strengths for the benefit of the community.

To support you in seeking out volunteer activities that align with your interests, I have compiled the resources below. This list is by no means comprehensive. If you feel there are gaps in my resources, I welcome your input and invite you to contribute your own experiences with volunteer/philanthropic projects, which have enhanced your professional career while serving those in need.


  • Upwardly Global: Support professional immigrants by providing job readiness skills through mock interviews, resume critiques and/or career training.
  • Microplace: Invest in and receive a return from microfinance organizations seeking capital and yielding a return on investment.
  • Ladder Up Financial Liberation: Provide income tax preparation assistance and teach low-income, elderly, disabled and limited English speaking individuals how to make their money work smarter by claiming refundable tax credits.


  • Engineers Without Borders: Help create a more stable and prosperous world by addressing people’s basic human needs by providing necessities such as clean water, power, sanitation and education.


  • CommunityHealth: Provide quality free healthcare to uninsured individuals living in Chicago and the surrounding communities.
  • Range of Motion Project: Help provide a more equal distribution of prosthetic and orthotic services throughout the world.



Srilatha currently works in public policy at Donors Forum.  Srilatha holds a Bachelors in Management of Information Systems from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Masters in Public Service from DePaul University. She has experience working in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors with a special interest in international issues. Her prior experiences have allowed her to work with refugees, write grant proposals and strategic plans for Hurricane Katrina victims, lead career training workshops and work in microcredit in Tanzania.

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