Hacks Newsletter – Week 9A – Philanthropy


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GUEST SPOTLIGHT: How To Hack Philantrophy

The importance of giving back is a core value my mother instilled in me from a young age. This holiday season, you may be wondering how to make your gifts more impactful, so I have invited my dear friend Liza Yntema to share her hacks on catalyzing change.

In less than 10 months, Liza Yntema has brought Dance Data Project® (DDP) and advocacy for gender equity in ballet into the national debate. By focusing on metrics, Liza has quickly changed the paradigm, highlighting the lack of leadership opportunities for women and gross pay inequities. How did DDP move so quickly? Dive into her hacks below.

  • Stay Laser Focused on Mission: DDP only focuses on ballet, refusing to get pulled into discussions beyond their expertise.
  • Listen, Listen, and then Listen Some More: At 15 ballet companies and counting, Liza is traveling throughout the US to spend time on the ground, attend rehearsals, talk with leaders, parents, and dancers. The biggest mistake in philanthropy is assuming you know the problem and are certain of the fix. (See Leadership Hack #23: There’s no substitute for looking people in the whites of their eyes.)
  • It’s Not About YouBut You Have to Advocate: Though DDP focuses on numbers, it’s important to also be a face for the cause in the media. Show up and speak up for those who are voiceless.
  • Be Ready to Change Course: Whether its a start-up or an established charity, position your organization to move quickly and strongly in unexpected directions. (See Leadership Hack #17: Be open to the organic next steps professionally.)
  • Make Allies/Honor Your Friends: Get over the scarcity model: there is plenty of credit to go around. Express gratitude as often as you can and highlight the accomplishments of those who work with you.

Wondering how to support gender equality in the arts? Listen and leave a comment on this NPR article on gender equity in ballet, with DDP’s statistics front and center. The more comments, the more likely NPR will do a follow-up and continue asking, “Where are the women?”

Leave a Comment


In conversation with advisor and activist Christie Hefner, Alyssa will share insights from her book and provide strategies for everything from managing a household to taking colleagues to rock concerts. To RSVP, please email Irina Gavrilova at info@ajrventures.com.

Alyssa will be joining YaleWomen Chicago for a talk on the book. To RSVP, please email Irina Gavrilova at info@ajrventures.com.

In partnership with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Alyssa will speak with the University of Chicago’s Women in Business Group at the Charles M. Harper Center (5807 S. Woodlawn Ave.). To RSVP, please email Irina Gavrilova at info@ajrventures.com.

Alyssa will be headlining a Viewpoints Event at the Center Club of Maryland. If you want to RSVP now, you can contact Janine Lis at the Center Club at jlis@centerclub.org. 

Alyssa will be discussing #hacksthebook at the Women’s Athletic Club of Chicago. To RSVP, please email Irina Gavrilova at info@ajrventures.com.

The Stanford Chicago Alumni Association will be hosting Alyssa for a book talk in March. More details to follow soon!

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There will be no end to the curveballs that life throws. As soon as you feel comfortable, another setback or new challenge will arise. Alyssa Rapp is driven to help people like her—the doers, those who keep swinging—seek to succeed in both life and career. Every challenge is an opportunity, are you making the most of yours?

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