Stephen Samuelian is a serial entrepreneur who has been recognized for his generous philanthropic funding campaigns. He says his giving habits were swayed many years ago after a life-changing event.
Interviews and News: Good morning and thank you for your time today.
Stephen Samuelian: It’s my pleasure!
Interviews and News: We understand that you have a rather unique philosophy regarding funding charitable organizations.
Stephen Samuelian: I don’t think it’s a philosophy so much as my understanding of how the world works.
Interviews and News: What do you mean?
Stephen Samuelian: I think that many good-hearted charities are a temporary fix to a symptom and not a solution to overcome the root problem.
Interviews and News: Can you give us an example?
Stephen Samuelian: Many years ago I was on a trip to a third world country. One day, we made a visit to a local orphanage. I felt immediately drawn to these children and their plight. However, I soon found out that many of these little ones actually had families. They were institutionalized because their living conditions at home were actually worse.
Interviews and News: How can that be?
Stephen Samuelian: The area was so economically depressed that parents felt it better to give up their children than to subject them to extreme poverty.
Interviews and News: Were there any programs available to help these families care for their kids?
Stephen Samuelian: No and that is just my point. The orphanages are definitely needed. However, many of the children could have remained at home had there been measures in place to ensure the family had the ability to provide for the basic needs of their children.
Interviews and News: What types of programs are you talking about?
Stephen Samuelian: Job creation and training, community cleanup efforts, more accessibility to childcare and nutrition…
Interviews and News: Do you believe the orphanages are a valuable asset to these communities?
Stephen Samuelian: As I said before, they are definitely needed. Most facilities, sadly, are just a Band-Aid that temporarily covers up a large-scale problem.
Interviews and News: So you believe that donors should focus on fixing the core problems?
Stephen Samuelian: Yes, I do.
Interviews and News: Do you think that more than a few charities pop up as a knee-jerk reaction to bad circumstances?
Stephen Samuelian: Many, absolutely. It seems there is always a desperate need for money to help fix one or more side effects of a more straightforward problem.
Interviews and News: What advice would you give to someone looking to offer their time or money?
Stephen Samuelian: Do your due diligence. Find out what caused the issue that is so near and dear to your heart. I believe the focus should be on helping educate and empower those you are trying to help rather than just throwing money at a bad situation.
Interviews and News: It sounds like there is a very fine line between helping and hurting where giving is concerned?
Stephen Samuelian: That’s right and it’s only when we all learn to recognize the difference that we can create a positive and long-lasting impact on the world.
Interviews and News: We appreciate your time today. Do you have any final words for our readership?
Stephen Samuelian: I would just like to reiterate that giving is absolutely vital to making the world a better place. But please make sure that you are contributing to a solution and not enabling a new generation of people who will suffer the same fate as their parents.
Interviews and News: Very sound advice indeed. We appreciate your time and hope to speak with you again soon.
Stephen Samuelian: I look forward to it.