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Life's Stages

Pamela Gann with some of her students

By: Pamela Gann

I like to tell my college students that we proceed through life’s stages. They are still in their first stage, Life 1.0, of obtaining mental and physical growth and maturity and becoming well-educated and thoughtful persons for their adult lives. This Life 1.0 frequently extends beyond college into graduate and professional schools, travel, internships and volunteering.

Many are already passionate about the nonprofit sector. I harness and develop that enthusiasm in my course on “Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Not-For-Profits: Law, Public Policy, and Leadership,” which I teach in The Claremont Colleges. They learn facts about the size of the US nonprofit sector: collectively nonprofits compose 5.4% of the US GDP ($937.7 billion), nonprofit wages compose 8.6% of total wages ($647.6 billion), the wage value of volunteers is 26.4% of total nonprofit wages ($167.2 billion) and in 2015, total US giving was $373 billion or 2.1% of GDP. These numbers illustrate the size and impact of the US nonprofit sector. They also illustrate for my students why they likely will work and volunteer for, lead, or govern a nonprofit organization in Life 2.0, when they are engaged in professional and family contexts, building and pursuing careers and their personal lives.

My own Life 2.0 involved teaching and leading in institutions of higher education, including 11 years as Dean of the Duke Law School and 14 years as President of Claremont McKenna College. In those leadership roles, I have led three fundraising campaigns, working with donors, large and small, to experience positively the act of giving, and with volunteers, to pursue positively their wishes to give back to their alma maters. From these life experiences, I have developed an appreciation for the importance of good governance, leadership, and accountability in nonprofits. I have gained insights into what motivates donors and volunteers to give time and money and experienced first-hand the impact of their generosity.

My own Life 3.0 began in the summer of 2013, when I stepped down as President of Claremont McKenna College and moved full-time to Santa Barbara. As I tell my students, Life 3.0 permits one joyfully to give back with time and treasure, and hopefully with wisdom acquired especially in Life 2.0. For my Life 3.0, pursuing nonprofit activities composed one of my primary goals: to teach young people about the uniqueness of America’s nonprofit sector and the generosity of Americans, to serve my Santa Barbara community in a meaningful and effective way, and to expend efforts in the global, trans-national nonprofit community.

I am personally very fortunate to serve my Santa Barbara community through the Board of The Santa Barbara Foundation. The splendid work of the Foundation with the non-profit, business, and government sectors of Santa Barbara County enriches our community and my Life 3.0 experiences. This networked cooperation across the nonprofit, business, and government sectors establishes best practices and standards, state-wide and nationally, to address many of our community’s more pressing challenges, including zero-five education, a food action plan and a community caregiver initiative.

Life 3.0 is a gift and a responsibility. Life 3.0 permits us to respond to a call to service to ensure that our society remains democratic and just and that it permits all in our community to fulfill at least some of their life’s ambitions. Santa Barbara County is blessed with a large number of Life 3.0 individuals. Let’s lend our time, treasure, and wisdom to create a resilient community motivated by empathy for all our residents.

Pamela Gann is a Trustee of the Santa Barbara Foundation.
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