Each year she chairs numerous galas and hosts events benefiting not-for-profit organizations.

Jean Shafiroff has chaired numerous galas including ones for New York Women’s Foundation, Southampton Hospital, NYC Mission Society, Southampton Animal Shelter, French Heritage Society, JBFCS, Lighthouse International, American Cancer Society, Southampton Bath and Tennis Club’s Charitable Foundation, and Solar One.

Jean is particularly known for her leadership in raising money for the Southampton Hospital. In 2010, 2011, and 2013 she served as the chairwoman of the Southampton Hospital’s Annual Summer Galas, which collectively raised $5.4 million ($1.7, $2, and $1.7 million, respectively).

She sits on the boards of The New York Women’s Foundation®, NY Mission Society, JBFCS (20+ years), French Heritage Society, The Couture Council, Lighthouse Guild Advisory Board, Southampton Bath & Tennis Club’s Charitable Foundation, and Southampton Animal Shelter Honorary Board.

Several times a week, New Yorkers get a glimpse of philanthropist Jean Shafiroff in the news as she spearheads balls, and luncheons and oversees countless charitable causes. As the wife of investment advisor Martin Shafiroff and mom to daughters, Jacqueline and Elizabeth, this elegantly dressed and eloquent speaker utilizes her managerial and leadership skills to make a difference in the area of modern philanthropy.

Described by several top-tier magazines as one of the most powerful New Yorkers, Jean, a generous, fearless volunteer fundraiser, tenaciously connects her endless resources to raise funds for underserved citizens and animals, too! In an exclusive interview with Compulsive Magazine, Shafiroff discusses the importance of philanthropy and why it’s so important to give.

You are known as one of the first ladies of philanthropy. What an honor. What does this mean to you, and how does such a title inspire you to continue to push forward?

The title is a great honor, and I take it very seriously. It is my obligation to work hard and to be of help. As a result, I try to do all that I can. Hard work is something I am used to. I believe in order to achieve, we have to set strong, realistic goals and work hard to achieve them.

You are considered to be a leader in a new movement of modern philanthropy. What difference have you seen in the way philanthropy has changed in the past few years?

Philanthropy is changing to embrace everyone. In my book, Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give, I write that anyone can be a philanthropist. If you don’t have financial resources to give, you can become a philanthropist by giving your time and knowledge. Of course, if you have financial resources, then you have an obligation to give financially. We all have something to offer to help the less fortunate. Philanthropy has moved forward by embracing diversity, and now many more resources are being directed to people of color. This is very important and long overdue.

In your book, you include a chapter called “Why Give?” Can you provide a statement that relates to that chapter?

Yes, we give because we are passionate about a cause—and because we want to make a difference. There is great need in this world, and we all have a responsibility to help out in the very best way possible.

What inspired you to become a philanthropist? Were you a “giving” child?

I attended 12 years of Catholic school where the nuns taught us the importance of giving back. But all religions teach the importance of aiding the underserved. My father was a music teacher, and the student’s progress at the public school where he taught was very important to him. He would come home and discuss this with us.

I was a Girl Scout for a number of years. The Girl Scouts teach young women to do good work and to set goals. My mother was also very influential. She always wanted us to achieve and to be helpful to society. My mother and I would bake for all the bake sales at my school. We did what we could to help out. I believe that philanthropy needs to be taught in schools at a young age. Parents also play a key role in teaching to give back. I discuss the importance of teaching the importance of philanthropy in my book.

How do you decide which projects will become your passion?

The four areas I focus on are the rights of underserved populations, women’s rights, health care, and animal rights. However, I support many other causes as well.

Recently, you and your husband Martin donated funds to the Southampton African-American Museum. Can you talk about the experience and the gala that was held?

The group involved was wonderful. I saw a need for the Southampton African-American Museum to raise money and to thrive and flourish. It was my honor to be of help. The gala was a success, and I plan to be involved in future years.

You sit on the Board of the NYC Mission Society. What are some of the goals of the Mission Society and have the goals changed with the pandemic?

We serve the most underserved children in NYC and have done so for over 200 years. The children who go through the NYC Mission Society program end up thriving. This is a charity that truly makes a difference in the lives of those that need help. During the pandemic, we had virtual educational programs. We also delivered weekly care packages for the families of the children we serve. I am always so impressed with the work of our professionals and volunteers at the NYC Mission Society.

We understand that you are involved with the Southampton Animal Shelter. Do you have pets?

We have a total of five rescue dogs. They bring great love to all of us. We are fortunate to have them!

Most of the work that you do involves causes related to women. What are some of the challenges that women today face, and what are some of your ideas for solutions?

Women face so many challenges. First, pay parity does not exist in this country or in other places in the world. Working women who also have families have an enormous responsibility, far more responsibility than their male counterparts. Women need the support of the government, their families, and businesses. In the workplace and outside of the workplace, women need to be treated equally to men.

As a fundraiser chair, you have been very instrumental in moving the needle. Fundraising isn’t easy; what are some of the ways that you approach each project?

You are absolutely correct in saying that fundraising is not easy. Asking for a donation can be very difficult. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get it. You must ask the right person for the right amount at the right time. I discuss fundraising in great detail in my book. What is key to know is that it is serious business and must be done in a professional manner. When fundraising, make sure that all donations go directly to the charity. Always be polite and remember a “no” today could be a “yes” tomorrow.

In your book, you include a chapter called “Why Give?” Can you provide a statement that relates to that chapter?

Yes, we give because we are passionate about a cause—and because we want to make a difference. There is a great need in this world, and we all have a responsibility to help out in the very best way possible.

What are some of the challenges and obstacles in persuading people to open up their hearts and assist those who are in need?

This is an excellent question. Some people are more generous than others. It has a lot to do with how they were brought up. When people are exposed to all the suffering around them, they learn how serious their needs are. This compels them to give. Most people who have seen or experienced great suffering want to be of help. Everyone must also realize those with resources have a responsibility to help out.

Your wardrobe is gorgeous. Who are your favorite designers?

There are so many, but my favorites are Oscar de la Renta, B Michael, Carolina Herrera, Victor de Souza, Zang Toi, and Malan Breton, to name a few. There are so many new designers emerging. I love to support the work of young new designers whenever possible.

FOLLOW HER ON SOCIAL MEDIA: I: @JeanShafiroff, I: @JeanShafiroffatwork, T: @JeanShafiroff, F:@JeanShafiroff

Discover More...