Neil Siskind: Charity is for One Person (and it’s not yourself)

By: Neil Siskind, New York Lawyer

Neil Siskind is the Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment
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Review Neil Siskind’s personal and professional references at:

Volunteer, Pro Bono, and Government Background:
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Neil Siskind’s Volunteer Work: Volunteer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Donate to one of my needy public classrooms:
Help Neil Siskind make sick children’s wishes come true: Neil-Siskind/Help-Make-A-Child-Smile.htm

Neil Siskind’s Pro Bono Work: Protecting New York’s senior citizens from fraud and financial abuse siskindsenior-logo

Champion Children – The Siskind Law Firm We seek to inspire people with stories of  children who have overcome challenges:
FreeStart Business – The Siskind Law Firm We seek to help put war veterans and senior citizens in the right direction so that they can face the challenges of  the modern economy:

Neil Siskind’s Philanthropic Work:
-Hudson Riverfront Land Preservation
-Founder, The Fatherhood Assignment: A think tank to educate the public about, and advocate for the children of absentee fathers.

Neil Siskind’s Government Work:
Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Boston, MA, 1994, Intern
Office of Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Newington, CT, 1992, Intern
Hartford County Department of Probation, Hartford, CT, 1991, Intern

Neil Siskind’s Community Assistance:
Established and operated a temporary legal clinic offering inexpensive legal services to struggling Long Islanders during the recession to help clients resolve debt, plan estate matters, organize finances, start small businesses and obtain governmental assistance such as Medicaid.

Neil Siskind’s linkedin URL:


When you engage in philanthropic service, you presume….rather, you hope….that the beneficiaries will be uplifted…even inspired. But it’s not always true. No matter where you go in life, even in a place to help those with the most dire of needs, you will find that there are those who are grateful, and some who are not. This is the nature of a group setting.

When you deal with groups of people, no matter the situation, you will get a spectrum of personalities, dispositions, mentalities and behaviors. This will occur in schools, social situations, places of business, homeless shelters- and even in the hospital rooms of cancer patients. This is the nature of life and of humanity. There are no places on earth where there are only mean people, and no places where there are only nice people. They are always mixed-in together. You will always encounter selfish and mean-spirited people immediately adjacent to warm and grateful people.

When you reach out to help others in a completely voluntary and selfless way, you can never be sure what the response will be. I have had people treat me as a bother, while people in the same health or economic predicament treat me as a savior. I have had my efforts gone criticized by some, while lauded by others. There is no rhyme or reason.

While many people in philanthropy do not experience the negative side, when you engage in philanthropy in a diversity of areas…health care, legal services, social causes, etc., there is an increased chance of such experiences. Let’s put it out there: Doing for others is not always easy, fun or rewarding. Sometimes we bite our tongues and wonder why we bother. After all, we are all human- just like those we serve. No one likes to be taken for granted or taken advantage of. Thus- philanthropy has to be a mindset- not an action…and you must go-in knowing that you will take some bad to achieve some good.

In life, we will always encounter good people and bad people and we never know which will be which. What we have to do, in any circumstance, even in philanthropic endeavors, is accept that suffering the unappreciative people in the group is worth assisting the thankful. This is especially easy when the thankful are so gracious and grateful that they make the work worthwhile.

When engaging the occasional thoughtless and even mean-spirited person we are trying to help, we must remind ourselves that we are doing what we do for one person…. our own selves, and not for “thank yous” or for pats on the back. That helps us to push forward. But that is not the truth at all! That is merely an emotional shield. If we convince ourselves that our work is essentially “the right thing to do” regardless of any lack of appreciation, it helps to deal with the emotional tax that it can take. No- we do “not” do it for our own selves. The truth is that we give to those in need for the one person whose day has been made a little brighter because we stepped into it. We need that one person as much as he or she needs us. The others may not feel fulfilled by you and may even bring you down….but that one person….that is the reason we persevere and come back again to help.