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3 Big Takeaways from the Aspen Ideas Festival

I traveled to Aspen, Colorado, earlier this summer to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival: Spotlight Health. Presented by the Aspen Institute, which is an international nonprofit think tank that encourages the exchange of innovative ideas, the festival is deemed the nation’s premier public gathering place for leaders around the globe to present and discuss today’s pressing issues and ideas. There are a variety of people from many disciplines that attend; however, I specifically attended the Spotlight Health part of the festival.

With keynotes, interactive sessions and panel discussions, Spotlight Health covers the cutting edge topics of health and medicine that aren’t usually covered by other health care conferences. With a tagline of “Not Your Ordinary Health Conference,” Spotlight Health accurately reflects health care in today’s age of advancing technology and disruptive forces.

I enjoyed attending Spotlight Health because it provided me a unique opportunity to meet thought leaders and innovators like myself. Below are a few highlights about some of the topics that were covered at the festival.

To find out Jon Belsher’s takeaways from the festival, visit his website here

Are You Living Your Greatest Story?

As I was running along a lake in downtown Austin earlier this summer, I passed a message on the trail. It read “Live a great story.” If you’re a resident of Austin, you may recognize the phrase. From the HOPE Outdoor Gallery to bridges and other places around the city, you may spot the message.

But what does it mean?

According to mantra-creator Zach Horvath, “whether it’s traveling, meeting people or taking a back road in a home town, the more experiences [you] collect, the better and more well rounded [you] can make [your]self.”

This phrase caught my attention when I decided to step down from my role as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at MedSpring Urgent Care recently to search for my next adventure. MedSpring was an amazing journey from conception to design and operation that today serves hundreds of thousands of people nationally. We successfully built a company that increased healthcare access, drove down costs, and served every patient in a manner consistent with what we all would want for our own families.

To read the rest of this post, visit Jon Belsher’s website here

Tips to Fundraise for Your Philanthropy

Although I’m an accomplished business executive, I don’t forget about my roots and my commitment to philanthropy. My father passed away when I was young, and as the eldest of four boys, I assumed the head of the family. My desire to care for children who need love and support didn’t go away as I got older, so I became a Big Brother for the United Way. I also volunteered for many other organizations, and each was a unique eye-opening and rewarding experience.

No matter which organization I was with, I realized how important it is to fundraise. There are so many great organizations out there that help children and families — but they can’t help them without the funds to do so. Here are a few key ways to fundraise for your philanthropy.


Crowdfunding is a form of fundraising that’s gained traction over the past few years. When you create a page for your fundraising campaign, it’s important to have information about what the money will be used for and why it’s needed. Not all crowdfunding sites are for philanthropies, so here’s a small list of philanthropic-centered crowdfunding sites to help you get started:

  • CrowdRise – CrowdRise is the world’s largest and fastest-growing fundraising platform dedicated exclusively to charitable giving. Used by millions, CrowdRise has been named the best place to raise money online by Mashable.
  • Indiegogo – Indiegogo has had substantial international growth because of their flexibility, broad approach and their early start in the crowdfunding industry. Through Generosity by Indiegogo, nonprofits and socially minded are able to get discounts with a 0% platform fee. Some examples of fundraising campaigns on this site include causes in the medical, education and sports fields.
  • Razoo – Razoo was formed out of a desire to offer a service for underfunded nonprofits and people in need. The platform empowers nonprofit organizations, highlights teamwork and gives individuals a voice for what they care about.

To see more tips about how to fundraise for your philanthropy, visit Jon Belsher’s website here.

Philanthropy Is More Than Just Writing a Check

According to oxforddictionaries.com, philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. Although it is generous to donate money to philanthropies, the true extent of philanthropy can be more than just writing a check. So, what is the true extent of philanthropy?

I believe that an important component of philanthropy is taking the time to spend time with an organization that is important to you. I’d like to provide some examples.

Provide Guidance to Those Who Need It

For a number of years, I was a Big Brother for the United Way. In this role, I had the opportunity to help shape a child’s future for the better. I made weekly visits to my Little Brother, helping him with homework, going to the park to throw the ball around, or just going to get something like ice cream.

These weekly visits were more satisfying to me than simply donating money to the local United Way. Witnessing the joy and security I brought to my Little Brother gave me more satisfaction than board games or frisbees could have had I simply donated money.

To read more, visit Jon Belsher’s blog here

The Philanthropic Organizations I’m Passionate About

This blog was originally posted on Jon Belsher’s website here

I’m blessed to have reached a high level of success in my professional career, and I have made it my duty to give back to the community that has yielded these great rewards and success. I’m eager to share my involvement with the United Way, Health Care for the Homeless, and Special Olympics, all organizations near and dear to my heart.

United Way

The Big Brothers & Big Sisters program of United Way is a mentorship program that believes every child has the ability to succeed in life. They partner with parents, guardians, volunteers, and others in the community (called Bigs) to make meaningful matches with children from the ages of 6 through 18 (called Littles).

For a number of years, I was a Big Brother for the United Way. In this role, I had the opportunity to help shape a child’s future for the better. I made weekly visits to my Little Brother to help him with tough things like homework, but also went to the park to throw the ball around or grabbed some ice cream together.

This experience helped me develop a deeper understanding of the importance of caring for children that are in need of love and support, while also fostering their leadership skills and helping them realize their full potential. If you’re interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, you can find more information here.

Health Care for the Homeless

At one point in my career, I was motivated to explore a side of medicine that I had less familiarity with. My training at the Mayo Clinic involved caring for individuals who were generally more socioeconomically fortunate, and that inspired me to join Health Care for the Homeless in Phoenix.

Health Care for the Homeless delivers quality healthcare to homeless people through street outreach and integrated primary care. It provides mental health services, substance abuse services, case management, nutrition services, and more.

As a staff physician, I gained a better understanding of the homeless plight and their lack of access to basic healthcare. It was an enriching and rewarding experience to be able to care for those who needed it the most, but most importantly, I gained compassion for all mankind regardless of circumstance. It was profoundly humbling to gain insight into the backgrounds of many homeless people, including those with advanced degrees.

Special Olympics

I played football, basketball, and track when I was in high school. Given my sports’ background and love of children, I jumped at the opportunity to spearhead the medical program for Special Olympics Minnesota.

Special Olympics is a leader in raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to discover new strengths, abilities, and skills to achieve success.

Since I believe every child, even those with disabilities, deserves a safe and secure foundation to realize their full potential in life, Special Olympics became the perfect opportunity for me to put my experience as an athlete and physician to use.

How Children Can Get Involved in Philanthropy

I care deeply about education and the important role that it plays in children’s lives. As a father, I aim to be an exemplary role model and teacher for my children. There are many ways you can model, and even encourage, charitable behavior to teach your children to be selfless. This can help build their self-esteem, teach them the importance of community activism, and give them a greater appreciation for the things they currently have in their lives.

Jon Belsher provides few ideas about how you — and your children — can get involved in philanthropies on his website here.

Companies That Offer Incentives for Volunteering

In my previous blog, I discussed how business leaders can give back to their communities by encouraging their employees to volunteer. Whether it was through VTO days, downloading charitable software on company computers, or offering employees assistance with housing costs, business leaders have an opportunity to give a new meaning to what philanthropy means in their workplace. To give business leaders all the more reason to encourage their employees to volunteer, here are a few companies that offer their employees incentives for doing so.

NuStar Energy

Texas-based NuStar Energy L.P. has about 1,600 employees, $5.1 billion in assets, and pulls in about $2.1 billion in revenue. But it’s assets and revenue isn’t what the company is known for.

NuStar has been ranked as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for eight consecutive years because of its “sharing is caring” culture and their strong commitment to community service. In fact, NuStar employees participated in a total of 95,000 volunteer hours last year because the company gives its employees an incentive to volunteer: 60 hours of paid volunteer time off per year!

The company has been awarded for its volunteerism, philanthropy, and great corporate culture, which revolves around guiding principles that include: commitment, making a difference, teamwork, and pride. NuStar’s guiding principles are so well-engrained in their employees and their culture that they’re emphasized in all of the company’s communications, activities, and events, and the company displays posters with these principles all throughout their buildings.

To see the rest of this list, visit Jon Belsher’s website here