Transformational Giving Makes a Difference for You and Your Cause

Most of us strive to make a difference in the world, and the way many of us do so is through contributing to causes that our meaningful to us and help to increase our individual impact. Chris Gabriel recently described the concept of transformational giving at the 68th Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference in Atlanta. His remarks had special significance to many attendees, and we had a follow-up conversation with Chris so that we could extend his ideas to a broader audience.

Chris is an experienced financial advisor and founder of a nonprofit project promoting generosity as an essential element of a life well lived. Below is the conversation between Chris and me.

Amy Macklin: What benefits does a giver receive through the act of giving? What happens when we give?

Chris Gabriel: Giving is like a super power to which everyone has access. Philosophers focus on generosity as an essential virtue of a life well-lived. Psychologists show how giving boosts our mental health and that of the people around us. Sages from all the world’s major faith traditions teach that compassion and caring align us with universal values. Scientists have proven that altruism provides substantial physical benefits including lower stress and improved longevity.

Amy Macklin:Are you able to summarize what you call the 5 Ps of Effective Giving?

Chris Gabriel:The 5 Ps are a framework to help pursue your unique giving priorities and potential. The elements are:

  • Proximity: Gifts closer to you generally matter more than ones farther away.
  • Proportion: Larger gifts generally have more internal and external impact than smaller ones.
  • Production: Giving more frequently and stimulating others to give leverages your generosity.
  • Power: Effective giving occurs at the intersection of passion, opportunity and impact.
  • The Present: Giving now usually is better than waiting to give.

For those involved with and concerned about public health at home and abroad, the CDC Foundation offers a unique and powerful way to fulfill all of the 5 Ps.

Amy Macklin:So I want to share a true story of a donor and get your assessment based on the 5 Ps. Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, DVM, PhD, EIS ’83, worked at CDC during part of her career and now is teaching at the University of Washington School of Public Health, Center for One Health Research, in Seattle. Dr. Pappaioanou established the Pappaioanou Veterinary Public Health and Applied Epidemiology Fellowship to allow veterinarians to work at CDC and explore a career in public health.

Dr. Pappaioanou makes gifts annually and has also named the CDC Foundation and the fellowship as the beneficiaries of her IRAs. She is passionate about One Health, which recognizes that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment, a multidisciplinary approach that will yield the most effective, sustained solutions to public health challenges. Her goal is to improve health in each discipline by educating and offering support to the next generation of veterinarians in public health. She deeply believes that having veterinarians at the table in public health is very important, as they have a special understanding of the connections between human, animal and environmental health and are an integral component of the U.S. public health workforce.

What are your thoughts, Chris?

Chris Gabriel:Dr. Pappaioanou chose a cause that is close to her personally and professionally (Proximity). Her awareness of the needs involved enables her to direct money in a way that provides substantial benefits (Proportion). Her commitment to the cause also creates a platform so that others can contribute and a means by which talented new practitioners can be drawn into the field (Production). The overall mix of Passion, Opportunity and Impact (Power) is clear. Lastly, she opted to invest in her vision now rather than later in life or posthumously (Present). Doing so enables her to enjoy the fruits of her giving, to refine her strategy based on experience and to add more resources in order to expand the program if she so chooses.

Great attitude and great action make for great generosity!

Amy Macklin:What final words of advice do you have for people who might consider giving through appreciated assets or making a legacy gift to the CDC Foundation?

Chris Gabriel:Contact the staff at the foundation for help. They have experts available to answer questions and provide support. Most importantly, they take a “donor-centered” approach to their work. Their goal is to help you find the most meaningful and productive gift that serves your interests and opportunities and which fits ideally in with the rest of your personal and legacy plans. You then can take their suggestions to your own financial and legal advisors for refinement and implementation. Support and resources from the CDC Foundation can make the results of your giving satisfying and effective.

To discuss your ideas for a transformational gift to the CDC Foundation, please contact me at

Amy Macklin
Amy Macklin is a senior advancement officer for the CDC Foundation.