Interview with Yale Levey about Philanthropy’s Power to Unite
Yale Levey is up to something important. Yale has a stellar background as a wealth management professional, but it is his company, Gateway for Good, which warrants your special attention. Gateway for Good is a social impact company that uses innovative philanthropic processes to create deep connections between people. The company’s mission is “Reuniting a Divided World” which they aim to facilitate through shared giving experiences. I asked Yale to elaborate on Gateway for Good. His words – and great work – follow:
Yale Levey: Gateway for Good was born out of the significant positive responses that Ryan Ponsford, Scott Farnsworth and I were getting from our work in Main Street Philanthropy (MSP), a 501c3 non-profit we co-created about 11 years ago. Originally founded by Ryan and Scott, Main Street Philanthropy’s purpose is to transform people from the inside out and society from the bottom up by helping youth and adults experience the joy of purposeful giving through the programming deployed in schools. When kids, parents, teachers, non-profits, and business leaders were all telling us they wished they could have been part of this program while in school, we knew we needed to make our programs more widely available. In response, we created Gateway for Good. Gateway for Good was set up as a public benefit corporation and provides programming for advisors, for corporations, for non-profits and just about anyone else who wants to ignite giving as a culture.
Both Main Street Philanthropy and Gateway for Good’s programming foster common vision, common purpose, teach financial literacy, build life skills and to instill a joy for giving. Main Street Philanthropy’s program teaches youth about philanthropy by taking them through a process that instills critical life skills through the lens of giving, ultimately leading to the kids “investing” in nonprofits of their choice. MSP ambassadors lead small teams of students and their teachers through a transformational experience and discover, in some of the toughest schools, that shared giving can be an antidote for divisiveness.
In the very first class of Main Street Philanthropy, the teacher approached Ryan and said, “You see those kids sitting at that table over there? They're in rival gangs.” And Ryan said, “Well, should we separate them?” And his colleague said, “No, let's keep them together and see what happens.” That group of kids wound up becoming the highest-performing team in that class. That really validated that when you engage in meaningful shared philanthropic experiences, you create a common purpose and take steps towards reducing divisiveness.
I loved what Main Street was doing and became the first ambassador for the program and the head of their advisory council. That was 10 years ago, and we’ve integrated into over 50 high school classes around the country since then.
When the pandemic hit, we accelerated our move to digitize our Gateway for Good tools beginning with our “Make a Difference” experience and a goal of using innovative giving experiences to reunite a divided world.
The “Make a Difference” experience has two components. It's part survey and part live conversation. Make a Difference is the process we use to uncover participants’ “social fingerprints.” It helps them determine their values and prioritize causes that resonate with their interests. At Gateway for Good, we use the results from the Make a Difference experience in interactive workshops, to inspire conversations and connections, and to create action steps to help participants move beyond discovery and into doing.
So, our mission is to reunite a divided world and the way we're doing that initially is by getting as many people into the giving funnel as possible. That doesn't necessarily mean writing a check. It could be service volunteerism, or it could be just helping somebody somehow. And my goal personally is to have 80 million people, which is 1% of the global population, go through our Make a Difference experience over the next five years and to start a giving movement. We need partners to make that happen.
We’ve had a good initial experience bringing Gateway for Good to organizations like Rotary International. We’ve had several hundred Rotarians go through our process now over the last several months. And the response has been enthusiastic. A partnership with Rotary is a tremendous opportunity to spread the program and, we hope, we’ll have similar opportunities with other groups like these which bring businesspeople together around membership but also around community service.
Financial advisors are the other essential group for spreading the Gateway for Good and the Make a Difference experiences. Our programs provide great resources for financial advisors interested in supporting not only their client’s charitable giving interests but also the values that come with a healthy giving process. Think about it. What’s one of the biggest threats to an advisor’s business? It’s the loss of assets due to generational wealth transfer. The best way for an advisor to inoculate themselves against that is to have a multi-generation relationship, not just a relationship with the primary wealth creator or the wealth owner in the family.
To help advisors with that, we’re offering the opportunity for them to have their own custom Make a Difference experience on their website which is a great way to open the philanthropy dialogue and extend it to the whole family. It also allows us to report data back to the advisor unique to their clients or company. We can show them how our processes build better relationships across family generations and teach the next generation meaningful life skills like financial literacy, collaboration, analytical skills, empathy, gratitude, and an awareness of what's going on beyond your immediate world.
As advisors, we are in a unique position to show family members where they have the capacity to create greater happiness, greater impact, and a greater legacy. Those are what I call personal rates of return. And if you can increase the personal rate of return for your client and their family and friends, you’re securing a long-term relationship while making a difference.
Each of us has an opportunity to make a positive impact in the world. By engaging in giving and service, we can connect to our family members, friends, and colleagues, impact our communities and the world, and perhaps most importantly, achieve significant personal growth. That’s what’s driving Gateway for Good.