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Giving and the Gift of Life: Lindsey C. Jennings, Manager, Philanthropy

Giving and the Gift of Life: Lindsey C. Jennings, Manager, Philanthropy

Lindsey Jennings, MNS, CFRE, celebrates National Philanthropy Day by reflecting on the courage, generosity and heroism involved in choosing to give the gift of life.

Established in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, National Philanthropy Day (Nov. 15) recognizes the importance of working together for the common good. That importance is not lost among the donation and transplant community, a diverse group of individuals all working toward a common good: saving lives through organ transplant.

When I joined team UNOS four years ago, I discovered the meaningful connection between organ donation and philanthropy. Philanthropy means “a love for humanity,” and there is no greater expression of one’s love for humanity than choosing to become an organ donor.

Since that moment of discovery four years ago I have met many people who have been faced with one of the most complex decisions of their lives, and chosen “yes” – living organ donors, parents of children who passed too young, husbands and wives whose spouses died too soon. I’ve heard stories from living donors, who made the selfless decision to literally give of themselves, and organ donor families who faced an unthinkable choice on a day of emotional agony and great loss. What does each story have in common? Generosity.

Despite the anguish of knowing their own beloved could not be saved, organ donor families found a way to turn tragedy into triumph; when facing death, they gave life to others. They are proof that organ donation is a great act of heroism.

What I have found, time and time again in this community, is a boundless depth of courage, gratitude and love. Heartbreak is ever the dark companion of organ donation, but alongside, standing tall, walks hope.

As the manager of fundraising, I have had the privilege of meeting many transplant recipients who choose to give back to UNOS. When I ask them, “Why do you give?” their stories are all unique, but their reason is the same: they give to pay it forward, to do something that makes them feel worthy of this second chance at life, and to help others get their miracle, too. With their gifts, they do just that and so much more.

Charitable donations to UNOS go back into making our nation’s transplant system stronger. These generous investments fuel innovation, new technology and tool development and eye-opening research that will save more lives and reduce the waitlist to zero.

At UNOS, we work and live by our values of stewardship, unity, trust, excellence and accountability. When I reflect on these values, I see a pledge to organ donors and their families, to transplant recipients and every child and adult waiting for their second chance at life. Team UNOS, and our community, live out this promise every day in the work we do to honor the gift of life.

On National Philanthropy Day, I see altruism acted out in many ways, from registering to be an organ donor, to donating a kidney to a loved one, to making a gift to UNOS, to volunteering time to Board and Committee service and sharing with family and friends that you are saying “yes” to giving the gift of life. How will you celebrate National Philanthropy Day?


One way to celebrate is to give life – Nov. 29 is #LifeGivingTuesday and you can help us reach our one-day $30,000 goal. Pledge your support and help give more children and adults the second chance they deserve.

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