Flint, Mich.-based Arab American philanthropists Mona and Saed Sahouri opened a donor-advised fund with CAAP in 2011. We recently asked them some questions about philanthropy such as what drives their giving, and how CAAP has helped impact their giving since establishing their fund.

CAAP: Can you give us an example of the kind of work/causes you support? What do you look for when you make giving decisions?

Mona and Saed Sahouri: We like to support efforts that empower our community and improve their living standards whether it is in the United States or abroad. We have supported arts and cultural organizations as well. The Arab American Heritage Council (AAHC) & the Arab American National Museum (AANM) are two organizations that we feel very strongly about.

The AAHC is the only Arab American organization in the greater Flint area and we feel that it is very important to support such a great organization that does so much for our community while helping to preserve and advance our heritage and culture. The AANM is the only institution of its kind in the United States and it is a true source of pride for all Arab Americans. We love to support these institutions and other projects that touch our hearts.    

CAAP: What does the word “philanthropist” mean to you? Do you think of yourself as a philanthropist?

Mona and Saed: When we hear the word “ philanthropist,“ we think of very wealthy people and therefore do not necessarily feel that we are “philanthropists.”  However, our friends and family think of us as such, and therefore, we think any person who gives time, money and energy to benefit his or her community, should think of themselves as “philanthropists.”

CAAP: What do you see as your biggest achievement in your giving history? And what is your biggest regret?

Mona and Saed: Our biggest achievement in our giving history would have to be all the time, effort, and energy that we put into whatever it is we decide to help and support. If we have any regrets it would be not having more resources because we would love to give more money to some very worthwhile causes.

CAAP: Do you think foundations, individual donors and nonprofits, working together, can solve huge, seemingly intractable problems such as poverty, our broken public education system, and climate change? Is that where nonprofits and philanthropy should be focusing their efforts and energies?

Mona and Saed: If anything, they will help raise awareness, which is the very first step to solutions.  We all can make a difference one step at a time. 

CAAP: How has CAAP strengthened the impact of your giving?  What benefits have you received by having a fund at CAAP?

Mona and Saed: Our CAAP fund organizes our giving and helps us to strategically plan our giving trends for the future years. It gives us an idea of just how much we give and to which causes we tend to give more – not to mention the tax benefits as we often used to make donations and forgot to report them.

CAAP would like to thank Mona and Saed for giving their time to answer our questions! Learn more about establishing a donor-advised fund with CAAP by visiting our website.

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