A concrete baby step is not a token effort; it's a tangible, usually hands-on response to a problem.
- Bobby Sager
The Sager Family Traveling Foundation and Roadshow began in 2000 when my family and I made a commitment to travel the world with the hope that we can instigate the efforts of leaders. Since then we have lived on the road off and on, looked people in the eye, felt their humanity, had them feel ours, and again and again we have learned that the more you give, the more you get – it’s wealth by giving. We give people the opportunity to do something themselves, and just like in business, we look for an extremely high return on investment. We are not a charity in the classic sense because we believe that charity can create dependency and be debilitating. Often people view charity and philanthropy as something the wealthy do to give back after all their successes. That form of charity and philanthropy is a good start but it isn’t sustainable.
Just like in business, my family and I view our philanthropy strategically and with an eye toward amazing returns on investment (ROI). We are much more than a foundation. We are a venture capital incubator of initiatives all over the world aimed at taking concrete baby steps to tackle difficult situations by empowering the leaders in those areas.
Just because we do philanthropy doesn’t mean we are any less tough-minded or demanding than we would be in business. I use my skills and tenacity as an entrepreneur and go to places that often lack infrastructure but have a huge upside in terms of ROI. As Americans, Westerners, and funders we often project our solutions on the people we are trying to help but in reality we don’t understand the situation as well as they do. It takes critical listening and a willingness to engage to accurately understand the problem from their perspective and address it accordingly. That is why my family and I travel to the places where we have initiatives, meet the people, eat their food, and even sleep on the ground in tents if necessary. Then we partner with an organization on the ground to not just implement the project but to develop it and eventually create it into a self-sustaining entity; it’s the business of making a difference.
Inevitably people pat us on the back for our “selflessness.” We don’t do it because we feel obligated. We don’t do it because it’s nice. We do it because we want to. We’re selfish! The moments of learning, feeling, and living that we experience while doing the work of our foundation comprise a huge percentage
of the ROI. Making a difference is not a zero sum game where you have to give something up in order to benefit others. We get to make a difference in the lives of others while making an even bigger impact on our own; that’s true ROI. What we are proving through our philanthropy is that selfish is sustainable. People look at social enterprises that provide/produce socially responsible goods as being incredibly sustainable because the consumer, the environment, and the company reap the benefits. Why should philanthropy be any different? Ours isn’t.
This website isn’t an endorsement for our foundation. We aren’t asking for your support or telling you that our way is the only way to fix the world’s problems. Instead, we hope that our experiences stimulate your thinking about how you can help in your own ways because all of our concrete baby steps added together can change the world.