Before his current role as CEO of the FIU Foundation and previous executive positions in university advancement, Howard Lipman served as the President and CEO of the Greater Miami and The Keys Chapter of the American Red Cross. In that position, he was tasked – among other things – with fundraising for disaster relief. This experience has provided him with a unique lens to view philanthropy in the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic. SOAR staff spoke with Mr. Lipman about this and why FIU is a unique option for potential philanthropists to invest in.
Our country is facing a crisis unlike anything many of us have seen in our lifetimes. Why is philanthropy so important now?
As we all have seen, this pandemic has caused unprecedented need. Millions have lost their jobs and are now struggling to pay for basic needs. At FIU alone, there are thousands of students whose requests for emergency assistance total millions of dollars – not just to pay their tuition, but to be able to keep the lights on and food on the table. While the federal government has designated funds to support students across the country, those funds have been completely disbursed at our university. Private philanthropy is the only way we can fill this gap.
How do you see philanthropy evolving at FIU as a result of the events over the last year?
I think we were already starting to see certain changes in the world of philanthropy, and these events have only accelerated them. Younger philanthropists, for instance, want to be more involved with the projects they choose to invest in. They want to see results. At FIU, we’re able to provide both of these things to them. Because of who we are as a university and a cosmopolitan city, the ability to make an impact quickly is greater here than many other places.
How can someone who is looking to give back get started during this time?
Find a cause that speaks to you, and get involved. It’s as simple as that. If you look at FIU, you will find any number of inspiring causes. You can give to student need-based scholarships, help accommodate basic needs for our students and staff, and support academic areas that are important to you in this time of need … I could list hundreds of things. You can find them all at our university. And it’s important to know that, regardless of the amount you give, you can have a direct, positive impact on any cause that’s important to you. If you are still unsure where to start, our staff can help you explore causes you are passionate about and determine the best way for you to move forward.