For many years, MaryBeth Burnham, who lives on the same country lane as James and Anne Hubbell, has been a supporter of the Ilan-Lael Foundation.

Recently we asked her to share her thoughts on supporting Ilan-Lael, and for her insights on donating to non-profit organizations. Moving to the Wynola area back in 1997 from Point Loma was quite a change for this beach girl. I come from a sailing family, so saltwater runs in my veins. As a small girl I spent hours sitting on the side of a boat, bobbing up and down, watching my father Malin Burnham race sailboats. It wasn’t as bad as watching paint dry, as they say. It taught me valuable lessons for life.

My father learned these virtues as a young boy when sailing, then shared with his four children.

  • Plan Ahead (set personal goals and adjust them with time and circumstance)
  • Commitment (take responsibility for your words and deeds.)
  • Hard Work (be prepared and use time efficiently)
  • Dedication (persevere)
  • Teamwork (everyone contributes)
  • Play by the Rules (be honest, ethical and fair)
  • Follow Through (take action to achieve your goals)

I have been mentored within my family by serving on the board of the Burnham Family Foundation. I was able to write small grants in support of any non-profit organizations of my liking. Since 2008 I have chosen only Julian non-profit organizations. One of my favorites that I’ve watched grow — and continue their mission through the same virtues of excellence that guide me — is the Ilan-Lael Foundation. I believe in their mission statement and have witnessed their successes.

My love affair with the Hubbells started before I moved two doors down the lane when I came for an Open House some 30-plus years ago. I sat on a rock overlooking the Canta Rana Ranch and thought nothing; just appreciated the quiet, the peacefulness. I felt the beauty of nature and the vortex of Volcan Mountain. What was it that it was trying to teach me? I also remember feeling that these beautiful folks live in a sculpture!

I volunteered for a few years at the Open Houses and various gatherings, and I was a big cheerleader in spreading their mission. Plus, I was their neighbor! Anne and James, and all of us up here, help each other in good times and not so good times (the fires!). We become family.

Given the question, “What can non-profits do in the future to generate more continued support?” I advise them to first focus on the talent within their organization. Reach out to ask questions, delegate, find new ideas and solutions. Go beyond “the ask” of gift giving. Givers want to know what their gift is going to. Is it seed money to continue yearly expenses or salaries? What’s their one-to-five and five-to-ten-year plan? Have they campaigned for smaller gifts like pledges of $100 a year from a child or adult? That way everyone feels like they can support the cause. If we mentor the next generation to continue the support, there is a future.

But if we do not, then we will not have the innovations, arts, education, medical, environmental and civic engagements that we all enjoy in beautiful San Diego County. “Community before Self” is my father’s motto. Words to live by.


PHOTO: MaryBeth Burnham has been a supporter of Ilan-Lael for 25 years.

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