Q&A With Thomas Kane, Private Wealth Manager And Chicago Philanthropist

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Below is our recent interview with Chicago executive Thomas Kane. Tom Kane is a Managing Director at Merrill Private Wealth Management who is also known for his various philanthropic contributions both in Chicago and overseas.

Q: You’re the President of the Central Region chapter of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), which provides financial support for former combat/front line soldiers who are in need. That’s a challenging mandate — can you talk about the types of issues the organization is tackling?

Thomas Kane: Israelis are required to join the IDF during the most formative years of their lives, typically starting at age 18. Through FIDF, we provide soldiers and their families with educational, financial, and emotional support, fundamentally changing their lives and providing them with opportunities ahead. For instance, we support education through our Impact Program, which offers four year scholarships to universities in Israel for former soldiers. I believe in social responsibility and want to give back to the Jewish community as much as I can.

Q: You have also been a consistent supporter of the Western Golf Association Evan’s Scholars program. How did this program get started and who does it directly benefit?

Thomas Kane: In 1929, famed amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. asked the Western Golf Association to administer funds he had established to send deserving caddies to college. The WGA awarded its first two scholarships in 1930, sending caddies Harold Fink and Jim McGinnis to Northwestern University. Today, the program provides 4 year scholarships for hardworking caddies with limited financial means. It’s truly a program I’m proud to support and believe everyone should have the opportunity to further their education.

Q: Can you describe your vision of how the business community should be serving the non-profit sector in today’s economy.

Thomas Kane: We have already witnessed how easy social media has made it for people to spread the word about a good cause, while prompting someone to donate by simply clicking a button. With artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, there’s real potential in on-demand donations. I think technology will also provide clear feedback on which projects donors connect to. You can also see the potential of mobile technology, using smartphones and tablets in the field to collect data on individual projects which can be analyzed for mission impact and service delivery.

Q: What do you think nonprofit organizations should focus on most in 2020?

Thomas Kane: Easier, more personalized giving. People are becoming more socio-focused and want to see and feel the difference they are making. Gone are the impersonal days of writing a donor check and having little to no interaction with the nonprofit. Sharing success stories, meeting the people that have been directly impacted by the donation, these are the types of things I’m talking about.