Voices of Philanthropy: The spirit of giving back


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As I was growing up, my family did not have the resources to provide much financial support to charities. My father, however, believed in volunteering and served on the School Board and in local government positions. My husband, Bob, also grew up in a family devoted to public service and charitable giving. That spirit of giving laid the foundation for the philanthropic work my husband and I do today.  We both have served in various capacities in our community, state, and for our beloved University of Iowa and have found great personal satisfaction in those endeavors. Those experiences have led us to use our resources — money as well as time —to support charities and this outstanding university.

For many years, Bob and I have attended the Finkbine Dinner and have been awed by the stories of the great work being done by accomplished faculty members. We’ve also heard about the learning opportunities and research done here in Iowa and around the globe by outstanding students, and we know that it takes financial support from many people to provide scholarships and research funding  to make these opportunities possible.

For many years I volunteered at Hancher Auditorium and saw firsthand the benefit that financial support for educational programming had on the lives of the children of Iowa. Busloads of students, many of whom would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend performances or to perform on the stage there, were inspired by that cultural experience. Financial support also has made it possible for world-famous performers to go into the schools to teach students their special skills or to just inspire them in the arts. Philanthropy can transform lives in so many ways.

Another volunteer opportunity I have enjoyed is with UI Children’s Hospital, and, once again, I have seen the significant impact philanthropy has had on the lives of children and their families.

Money for research is vital to the successes that are achieved at UI Children’s Hospital. Dance Marathon is the student-run fundraising organization that contributes directly to the Children’s Hospital. It not only provides important resources to ease the hospital stays of pediatric patients and their families,  but it has also pledged significant funding for the new Children’s Hospital, which is under construction. I have talked with a number of students who have participated in Dance Marathon, and they tell me that as they have raised money “for the kids,” it has also changed their lives.

I hope that Phil’s Day will inspire young and old to make contributions for the betterment of this great university, which has given students and faculty so many life changing opportunities. Your philanthropy for the benefit of others will transform your life and leave a lasting legacy.

Jane Downer
Iowa City

Jane Downer is a volunteer campaign co-head for the University of Iowa’s Arts & Minds campaign.

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