Giving Back: Can I Make a Difference?

So, you are crippled, can’t walk, and you live in a part of the world where a wheelchair just isn’t even a dream. So, let’s make it happen – we’ll send you a wheelchair.  But, 19,000 wheelchairs for those in need? Are you kidding? How did that happen? Here is the incredible story from Dan Hanson.

By Dan Hanson

Recently, I attended a fundraising gala in which loanDepot was a sponsor.

The event was for the nonprofit organization, Miracle of Mobility, which designs, builds and delivers free wheelchairs to over 93 countries around the world.  Miracle of Mobility does this for approximately $80 per chair – which is an incredible engineering and manufacturing achievement!

It may not always seem apparent how something as fundamentally common as a wheelchair can improve a person’s life through the gift of mobility – a freedom that can be overlooked and easily taken for granted. However, Miracle of Mobility literally – and figuratively – raises wheelchair recipients from the depths of despair, providing them with dignity as well as hope for a brighter future.

On the night of the event, more than 600 people raised $1.5 million in donations, which equates to nearly 19,000 wheelchairs that will transform lives in dramatic ways. It will provide countless individuals with a future they could never have thought possible.

What does it truly mean to give back?  I think it’s about sharing from your own abundance and good fortune.  It’s not necessarily monetary sharing – but hands, hearts and minds that can lift and empower people in every circumstance and time of need.

In ancient times, it was a harvest-time tradition to leave the outer edges of the crops unpicked, leaving the fringe as sustenance for others who needed the food. It was truly a “fringe benefit” for people less fortunate.

Many of you reading these words may already be engaged in organizations or with individuals dedicated to improving the lives of others in your own community and throughout the world.  If you are, consider yourself blessed for being able to do so.

I encourage each and every one of you to do more!

Be a leader, a recruiter and a cheerleader! Be someone who fights for the betterment of the world around you.

Take on the role of passionate advocate for a worthy cause and inspire others.

Bring folks together through comradery, compassion and love.

Be a discerning giver – leverage the maximum return on your efforts and contributions for the greatest impact possible.

Try to devote your strength and resources into organizations that can make the most impact. It may take a little more time and research to find these causes or organizations, but your efforts will be well worth it. Many of us are business people who are stretched in many directions. Our desire and passion to give back is no exception. So we need to use our best judgement when investing in the lives and concerns of others. There are questions of practicality with which to contend.

How much of the money goes to the cause as opposed to administrators? Is the charity’s mission urgent – or is the matter Byzantine and complex, requiring a long-term solution?

Whether you’re a person of faith commanded to such support (1 Timothy 6:17-18) – or a person who is inspired with a passionate and purposefulness – I applaud you!

Even the most modest acts of kindness and grace have been seeds for the greater good.

Keep in mind, it’s not the amount of money nor a tally of any kind that really matters; it’s the involvement that makes the difference. The connections you make can have profound and unanticipated positive results.


It’s clear that I’ve posted this message on a business connection site, LinkedIn.  Why use such a social platform to share a message about giving back?

Being in the mortgage finance business, I’ve found that maintaining a healthy perspective is critical to my effectiveness and thoughtfulness as a leader and manager. Giving back grounds us; it provides perspective in an otherwise harried world in which, every so often, we need to take a step back and count our blessings.

If giving back is something you feel strongly about – but you’re not certain where to start – take a “manager’s approach” to the situation: consider your resources; take inventory; look for ways to get involved; then, dedicate yourself to making a difference. In the process, I know you’ll find the journey an amazing and fulfilling one.

Giving back has certainly made a difference in my life.

In closing, I’m reminded of an allegory that’s worth sharing.

There was once a boy who came upon a beach following a tremendous storm. Scattered for miles in each direction, he saw thousands of starfish that had washed up on the shore and were perishing in the sun’s heat.  Without haste, the boy began gathering starfish, then casting them back into the safety and shelter of the sea.  

An old man happened upon the scene and said to the boy, “there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach – far too many for you to save them all. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to help!”  

Holding a single starfish in his hand, the boy paused for a moment, looked earnestly at the old man, then replied, “that may be true, but its making a difference to this one!”