How to raise money without galas and gowns? That’s the question with which renowned influencer and philanthropist Jean Shafiroff has been grappling within her many charitable boards. Shafiroff approaches volunteer fund raising armed with an MBA, personal style, work ethic and an open heart; promoting causes and inspiring all to give in any way they can. She even wrote a book on “Successful Philanthropy…How to Make a Life by What You Give.”
As a three-time gala chair and last year’s honoree (with husband Martin) of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, she broke fund raising records. She transformed the Southampton Animal Shelter summer event from a small-yield cocktail party to a full blown money-making affair.
“But, it’s a different world now,” Shafiroff told us. “We all accept that. To help reduce the suffering and hardship, the charities I am involved in all have COVID-19 funds.” And Jean is doubling down on her support: donating to the Heart of the Hamptons’ Southampton food pantry, the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Hero’s Fund, Southampton Animal Shelter’s food pantry, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, American Humane and New York Women’s Foundation COVID Fund. “It breaks my heart to think of anybody without food,” she said, “especially children.”
Or animals. The American Humane, which was formed in 1877, recently named Shafiroff its National Spokesperson and Ambassador for their Feed America program. “I’m very excited because we’re raising one million dollars for the animals negatively impacted by COVID-19,” she said. “With pandemic unemployment, some people have been forced to surrender their pets because of finances. Others need help feeding their rescue pets. And none of this happens without resources. This campaign will raise money across America for different rescues and shelters. We’ve already reached half our goal, raising $500,000.” Towards that end, American Humane is highlighting Jean in a campaign to get the message out.
For another one of her pet charities, “In lieu of a virtual event,” Jean said, “the Southampton Animal Shelter will do a matching fund campaign to keep the shelter strong and vibrant during the pandemic, and all stray animals fed.”
For other philanthropies, there are now zoom galas. The American Heart Association’s will be June 20. The Ellen Hermanson Foundation, that Jean has chaired and been honored by, is also taking its scheduled 25th Anniversary Gala virtual on July 25, and will provide a program for a virtual 25th Annual Ellen’s Run August 16-31 run, letting runners, pick the date, time and course.
The Hospital’s, called “Gala in Your Garden,” will be August 1. Jean sits on the Hospital Association Board and is a host committee chair. She promises, “Programs will be kept short and succinct.” Elements will depend on the guidelines set up by Mayor Warren and Governor Cuomo. But, the Hospital would like to have table purchasers host their group of ten on their grounds, following social distancing protocol. “Bob Chaloner and possibly a professional emcee will address the group,” said Jean. “There will probably be a restaurant component and/or basket. And again, it will benefit the John and Jenny Paulson Emergency Room.”
What to wear? “The Hospital has never dictated a dress code,” said Jean, “For that evening, a cocktail dress might be nice. But, any kind of backyard loungewear — long pants with a top, for example — would be perfect. I will be hosting in my backyard, and I won’t be too dressed up because I’ll have to help serve my guests. I might even want to wear sneakers to run around in.”
“Right now, what you’re wearing is least important. Participation is what it’s all about. Show your support financially to the best of your ability, or just stay engaged any way you can.”