Philanthropy: It’s All About You

Presented by Hawai‘i Community Foundation: Hawai‘i Community Foundation turns 100 (1916- 2016)! Meet its board chair who shares why the inspiring work of HCF supports her personal passion for giving back to the community in a strategic way.
Debbie Berger has served on HCF’s Board of Governors since 2011. 

Debbie Berger 

As board chair of Hawai‘i Community Foundation – celebrating its 100th anniversary this year – how does HCF and philanthropy touch people’s lives in Hawai‘i?

DB: Hawai‘i has a long-standing history of generosity—starting with the Ali‘i—and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation is a product of that tradition. What is truly unique about HCF is that its priorities are genuinely driven by the community. So while once it was instrumental in funding hospitals, schools, and public parks, more recently HCF has funded research and capacity building in key impact areas such as clean water, public education, homelessness, and support for the elderly.


How has giving affected you and your family?

DB: My father’s family came through Ellis Island over a century ago and my mother was born in Tokyo. There is little chance that I would have been afforded the opportunities I have enjoyed throughout my life without the support and generosity of others. Having lived in Tokyo, London and New York City I, like many kama‘āina, find a sense of belonging and purpose here at home. The ability to invest in something that can have a lasting and intergenerational positive impact is extremely exciting and personally rewarding. 


What have you learned at HCF? Have there been any surprises?

DB: Everyone has a deeply personal reason for giving, and you will find something that will resonate and engage you among HCF’s diverse outlets for philanthropy. What drives me to engage in philanthropy is the idea that we are all connected – we depend on each other as an island community and as a global community, and HCF has a multitude of ways it helps individuals, businesses and organizations make a difference. Its breadth of experience and expertise for donors is unmatched in its impact. HCF shares knowledge, nurtures innovation, and convenes and leverages networks of key decision-makers working toward common goals. For all the ways HCF helps, you can be sure it will remain at the forefront of community-based philanthropy well into the next century. 

  Hawaii Community Foundation

Stay tuned! Hawai‘i Community Foundation will present a story in HONOLULU Magazine each month in 2016 on local philanthropy that has changed a life, supported a family, or improved our community. 


How has philanthropy touched your life or community? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter #wegiveandreceive.