Giving Back

There’s giving. Then there’s giving smart. Rob Eddy knows the difference. And he wants you to as well. Beneath his quiet, calm demeanor beats the heart of a true community champion, dedicated servant leader and strategic thinker. He’s been involved with United Way of Acadiana for more than 25 years. Why?

“I really like the collaborative approach of UWA, its proven results and professional staff. United Way is one of the organizations that I consider as essential to community and a good quality of life. UWA reaches beyond the symptoms and addresses root causes of systemic issues.”

When he took on the role of United Way of Acadiana Campaign Chair in 2015, he made it his cause to revitalize UWA’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society of $10,000+ donors. It’s a cause that he still leads today, having grown this group by 60 percent. And he’s not done yet. Like John Torian in the early 1980s who established the $1,000 floor for what is today called “Leadership Giving,” Eddy has made it his personal mission to bring together major donors for catalytic philanthropy through United Way of Acadiana.

“I have an immense appreciation for people who are so passionate and generous with their time and resources and the fact that it matters,” Eddy said.

“It facilitates a significant positive difference at scale.”

Driven by his own desire to make meaningful charitable investments, Eddy has had dozens of conversations with individuals and families who have significant resources to contribute yet are trying to determine the right way to go about it.

“The answers lie in the questions we ask ourselves and in collaboration,” he said.

This was the impetus behind a recent Philanthropy Summit that he organized to discuss the challenges of making philanthropy count. And as a parting gift, everyone received a copy of Giving Smart, a book he says provides a great framework for philanthropic decision- making. “If you want your philanthropy to be useful— changing lives, solving intractable problems, making society work better — then

engage deeply with this book” agrees Jim Collins of Good to Great fame.

Eddy has led the UWA Lighthouse Campaign to tap others to invest with him in providing the tools for a cultural transformation of public schools through The Leader in Me. Many of these investors have joined the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, a special order of recognition that is international in scope. It honors voluntary community service and philanthropy. It is named after de Tocqueville because of his 18th-century writings which noted the generosity of Americans in voluntarily helping their neighbors and doing so quite spontaneously. 

“Philanthropy is not just writing a check. It’s being engaged and trying to solve problems and seek solutions. That’s what de Tocqueville really represents.”