Live chat with Cynthia Perini - transcript

April 17, 2007

Our live chat begins today at 1 p.m. and ends at 2 p.m. We will be speaking with Cynthia Perini, a local vice president of Sovereign Bank and the co-chair of the 2006 United Way campaign. She was recently named one of Maryland's outstanding 100 women by The Daily Record newspaper. She will talk about how to balance the demands of a family and a job with the desire to improve the community through public service.

You can participate by sending your questions to us by clicking here.

Virginia: As you know, fundraising and resource development for nonprofits continues to become more and more difficult. What are your suggestions for a nonprofit looking for ways to work "smarter"? What do you see as the best practices for maximizing donor and volunteer resources?

Cynthia: It's most efficient for nonprofits to identify the talents and resources they currently enjoy among their existing board and volunteers. As they identify these, then they need to match the skills and abilities of these existing volunteers to their best use. It is also important for these organizations to understand areas where they have needs which are not met by existing talents and skills. Then they are able to recruit others in the community who possess these talents and skills, and also have an interest or passion for their cause.


Brenda: When you volunteered with the United Way campaign, what is the most inspiring encourter you had with a donor or donors?

Cynthia: Every encounter with a donor is rewarding and inspiring. But one that stands out in my mind was an event at Volvo, recogizing leadership givers. A number of the leadership givers there are actually union employees. One of the gentlemen, when thanked for his contribution, talked about the importance of giving when we are able to give. He noted several specific examples of other fellow workers who had a need at one time or another -- a need that was met by a United Way agency. He spoke of the positive feeling he got from knowing that his dollars were working to help someone he knew. He also acknowledged that it was comforting to know that dollars would be there to support he and his family should the need arise.

Harold: I read recently that you were a mentor to a young girl several years ago with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Have you kept in touch with this young lady? Did the program have a lasting impact on her future?

Cynthia: Yes, I have kept in touch with her. I'm very proud of her accomplishments and the family she has built. Even at the end of our match over 20 years ago, she told me of the lessons she was able to learn from the experiences we shared over the eight years we were matched. I feel that the interactions she had with my entire family over this period of time helped her see the benefit of a strong family environment. She worked hard to provide this for her immediate family over these years.

Julia: How are you inspiring your own children to take up the torch and become involved in community service? Can you give me some tips on how to instill this value in my children?

Cynthia: Many of the organizations that I am involved in have events throughout the year where I am able to include my children in one way or another. Being able to participate or watch adults participate to support causes often lead us to conversations where we explore the differences and similarities between our lives and those who are served by these organizations. I always enjoy hearing the perspectives of children as they see the world in a different way. They are often able to help reinforce the value in these programs and what we are doing. I believe the more we talk to our children about what we are doing and the results of these efforts, the more inclined they will be to make decisions in their future which will positively make a difference in our community.

Dale: Congratulations on being named Maryland's Top 100 Women. The GI Generation set a great example in philanthropy and giving back partly due to their association with extreme need during the great depression. How do you instill the value of giving within the X and Y Generations when they have not yet (fortunately) experienced this kind of national crisis and need?

Cynthia: This is a tough question, and one that most every organization is struggling with today. We all have so many different priorities pulling at us that it is often difficult to help others see beyond their own personal needs. But I also believe that people want to be inspired by things that affect them, and the thoughts that they may be able to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I think our greatest challenge is to tug at the emotional heartstrings so that these individuals can see that when they give, they receive even more.

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