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"Philanthropy is grown-up sharing"

Linda Barrett
Lisa Dietlin

Lisa Dietlin is the founder of the Institute of Transformational Philanthropy – that’s transformational - not transactional - philanthropy. She’s an alumna of Michigan State University and is an internationally recognized expert on philanthropy, charitable giving and transformational change.

“To me, philanthropy is a grown-up word for sharing,” Dietlin says. “It’s about giving up your resources – be it time, talent, or treasure – to make the world a better place. And transformational means you’re looking to give without expecting anything in return.”

Dietlin adds that the “overlooked, potential donors are entrepreneurs.” And she feels the future of philanthropy is bright.

“What most people don’t realize is that there are 12 million people working in this field, that’s 10.6 percent of the workforce. It’s the third largest employment sector in our country after retail and manufacturing. There are more people working in the nonprofit sector than work in oil and gas, the automotive industry, or electronics and technology.

Dietlin is the author of four books on the subjects of charitable giving and enacting positive change. She shares the anecdote that led her to write her fifth book, The Power of Three: How to achieve your goals by simply doing three things a day.

Her sixth and most recent book is I Got Hit by a Taxi, But You Look Run Over: Life Lessons about Happiness and Joy.

“In 2014 I actually did get hit and run over by a taxi in the Loop of Chicago. Thankfully I survived without a scratch, but it was an awakening.” The incident led Dietlin to “focus on those things that brought me happiness and joy. When you are really doing what you love, it’s amazing what can happen to you. And if I’m a lot happier than the people around me are a lot happier. People want to be around positivity.”

Dietlin says Michigan State University was her foundation and provided the building blocks for her career.

“Michigan State University taught me that anything is possible.”

Dietlin quips that few young people grow up wanting to be fundraisers. But it’s a career she strongly feels more of them should consider.

“At the end of the day, you know you’ve changed someone’s life. You know you’ve changed the trajectory of something that’s going on. And when you put your head on the pillow at night, you can close your eyes and say ‘you know, I made a difference today.’”

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.

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