Archive for the ‘acts of giving’ Category

dignity
December 21, 2013

when my daughter was very young, like 3-5 yrs old young, we embraced the jewish tradition at home of putting coins in a charity box every friday night. the first time the box was full we asked our daughter to decide where to donate the money. there were some obvious choices: the animal shelter she’d visited with her daisy girl scout troop, the homeless youth center where her dad worked, her own school. but she didn’t even hesitate– dignity village, she declared.

dignity village is an enclave of homeless people who created a makeshift tent village under the highway near where we lived. we drove by it occasionally. our daughter had asked what it was, and we ‘d explained it to her. she’d been with her dad once when he dropped off a couple of sleeping pads for camping that we didn’t need anymore.

ok, dignity village. we all got into the car with the bag of change from the charity box and drove to dignity village. at the entry we explained why we were there. we were led to the man in charge. our daughter handed him the bag. some one came with a camera and took a picture. the man told us our daughter was their youngest donor. then someone else came with one of those small packets of peanut butter crackers, gave it to the man in charge and he handed it to our daughter. she hesitated and looked at me. i nodded. she took the crackers and said thank you.

she left satisfied but confused. she had come to dignity village to give them money and they gave her food even though she had plenty and they didn’t. it was important to them to give you something too, i explained to my daughter. they wanted to thank you. and they wanted you to know that they also have things to give, things that are  important to all of us: food & dignity.

$5
October 27, 2013

what is it about $5?

in my recent crowd funding campaign i chose $5 as the first level of giving.

i almost always invest $5 (or the first giving level) in crowd funding campaigns my friends have started as well as other campaigns i feel excited about. my little bit of money– an additional funder to the overall number, a high five to the folks putting out their project, being a participant in something that matters to me or to one of my people, knowing that every bit helps them reach the goal– those are the reasons i  do it.

i had to practically beg one of my supporters to give at this level. i wanted to encourage $5 investors by showing that others had done it before them. but this supporter had a hard time not giving more. in fact, when i explained my reasons and she agreed to be the first $5 investor she gave it anonymously.

$5 is what i believe almost everyone i know on FB, etc. could kick in without it having very much, if any impact on them. it’s roughly the cost of a latte, a beer, a fro yo; you can’t even get a glass of wine for a fiver unless it’s happy hour! so i figured $5 is a great way for folks to offer me a thumbs up at no significant cost to them while still being able to participate, to show some support. was i ever wrong.

now i don’t give $5 to many causes outside of crowd funding, because it often generates a full blown email or snail mail campaign for more of my money that probably costs more than the 5 bucks i gave.  but this is a crowd funding– no matter what you invest, you click a few buttons to pay by credit card of Pay Pal and that’s it.

so what is it about $5?

i’ve asked a few people and this is what i’ve heard back so far; i’m embarrassed to give the lowest amount b/c
you know i can give more
people will think i’m cheap
what difference will such a small amount make
it’s too much trouble for only $5

i really hoped to have a slew of $5 investments so i could reach my goal without anyone having to put themselves out.

would you please add any other reasons why you or someone you know wouldn’t invest $5 assuming it’s not any financial burden whatsoever? i’d like to collect as many legitimate reasons as possible.

meanwhile, i’m left with the following musings: it appears that most people who think like this invest nothing rather $5. do folks think i included $5 as a way to shame them? how much do the above reasons have to do with giving as an exercise in support vs. self-imaging?

p.s: here’s the link to my campaign
http://igg.me/p/470449/x/3933463

caught
April 6, 2013

the situation: three large trash bags filled with brand new, cozy, zip-up hoodies to give away

solution: bring them to the community college where i work and put them out on the free table in the student center

simple enough, right? it wasn’t. i hauled the bags into my office but didn’t have time to take them over until the end of the day. it was friday. hmm, not many people on campus. what if they were cleaned out by the weekend students? maybe i should wait until monday. but then the students who come tuesdays and thursdays might not get any. maybe i should put out one bag monday, one tuesday and one friday afternoon for the weekenders.

so there i was, trying to manage who got the hoodies i neither worked or paid for. because they were in my possession i felt like it was my responsibility and right to decide how they were distributed.

stewardship or control? there are important differences. either way, as givers we have power and with that power, however subtly, comes an assumption that we know what’s best for the receivers. unless we challenges our presumed authority.

you, me + legacy: 3 pillars of giving
March 31, 2013

here’s a simple idea to begin mindful giving. it became clear to me through a conversation with my friend and fellow philanthropy maven, arlene that started on our drive to the beach and was still going on during the ride home two days later. it  borrows from the model of managing one’s  money (i learned it as a formula for what to do with money i receive as a windfall):  a third in savings, a third to pay off debt (if no debt-towards a major purchase), a third to spend in the present.

these are the three pillars of giving:  a third to the most urgent causes in your community (or globally), a third to causes you care about, a third to invest in a legacy.

the first two thirds are straight forward. they give you the opportunity to support both what is personal to you and to remove your ego from the equation, to give selflessly acknowledging yourself as merely a vessel for contributing to the greater good.

the goal of the final third, legacy, is to seed the future of philanthropy. if you have children you might use the final third of your donation funds to engage your children in choosing where and how much to distribute. If you have no children you might create a managed fund that annually supports both your choice of organization(s) and the current  pressing needs of society once you die. You might also support  one of the  youth philanthropy organization that teach teens philanthropy through practice making choices and donating as a group.

incentives
March 12, 2013

i’m working on an advice book, an anthology. i need teenage girls to contribute their advice. it’s an opportunity to be a published writer, to help other girls, to be seen as someone whose advice is valuable to more than just close friends, to put it on a college application, to help support a girl empowering cause.

but it’s quite hard to get teenage girls to take the time to contribute. why?

for the most part they won’t bother unless you give them something tangible as motivation: an incentive, like a gift card to TJ Maxx, Starbucks or Claire’s, or a chance to win an Ipad.

incentives:
help others
have people listen to what you have to say
support a good cause
gift card
raffle tickets

youth that expect to get to give.  the question is, is this generation really that different than any other?

getter
February 22, 2013

i’ve been a getter my whole life.

people who aren’t related to me have given me thousands of dollars, bought me a car, taken me on trips, done a great deal of work for me at no charge, handed me roses on the street, healing stones in a coffee shop, show tickets on lines, etc. none of these people were romantic partners or relatives.

i don’t know why i attract these generous gifts. i don’t ever ask for them. i don’t expect people i know to give me such things.

i do accept that getting, or “being gifted by others,”(the more spiritual/acceptable phrasing) is part of my nature and that like beauty, talent, and family money it is unearned.

i’m often blown away by these gifts, but i’m no longer surprised when they materialize.

they used to freak me out. sometimes i wondered if i was so pathetic that people felt sorry for me. other times some people had expectations that came along with their gift

now i think these gifts say a lot more about the amazing friends,colleagues, and strangers i know than about me.

and therein lies my first point; giving reveals much more about the giver than the receiver.

my second point nonetheless is; whoever is on the other end of the giving isn’t a passive recipient.

english isn’t the best language to talk about the relationship between the giver and the taker– with its subject/object construction– but it’s the only language in which i can write.

the receiver (or getter) is also having an experience, but it isn’t always the one the giver anticipates.

is it the responsibility of the giver to take this into account when giving?

do no harm
March 10, 2012

there are girls who can’t afford to attend their prom.
a non-profit creates a contest for these girls.
the girls write an essay and get letters of recommendation to submit to the contest.
the winner gets a free prom dress, $500 towards her education, a free makeover for prom night, a ticket to the prom, a refurbished laptop and more.

my friend K rolls her eyes, well off white ladies, right?
right.
so these girls learn:
a. you have to out yourself and your family situation to total strangers who are better off than you about your poor pitiful but deserving state to have a chance to get out of it for the night
b. it’s a contest and only one girl is going to win and the rest are, well, losers (again)
c. nothing worth having doesn’t cost money or dignity
d. white people are definitely in control

and what does it say about the underlying beliefs of the folks at the non-profit that hold this contest?

one reason mindful giving matters is that sincerely well meaning people can give and make it worse.

giving inventory #1
February 7, 2012

i haven’t kept a list before, so this is off the top of my head for the past 6 months or so:

time & energy

clean and repair used books to distribute to children without books at home

make placemates and greeting cards for elderly shut-ins to go with their holiday meal

collect unsold clothes from local boutique to donate to a women’s shelter

make medicinal herbs with middle school students studying The Renaissance

advise aspiring writer on publishing strategies

assist high school student with college essay writing

organize Author Day at my daughter’s school

make dinner for 4 as an auction item

money

groceries for those without

local independent radio station

Move-On campaigns

round up for charities (through my bank)

2 kickstarter campaigns that didn’t include incentives of equal value

canned food drive

jewish federation

other

old coat to clothing drive

several trips to Goodwill to drop off used clothes and other items

spending my time
January 31, 2012

Almost every Sunday from November through February as a parent volunteer Guild Master I lead my guild of middle schoolers in the creation of medicinal herbs in preparation to sell them at the school’s Guild Fair in March. My own daughter isn’t a member of my guild, but she joins us sometimes if she’s home. Besides the 2 hour weekly sessions, I devote an additional 1-3 hours per week prepping for our meetings.

I give my time. My precious time.

When I actually was a middle school teacher I really wanted to teach medicinal herb making as part of our unit on The Middle Ages/Renaissance. Too bad there wan’t time. So now, instead of getting paid to teach, I’m doing it for free.

Actually, I’m not doing it for free. I’m spending my time. Time I will never get back. Time that isn’t being spent following other passions or accomplishing other goals.

Time is our most limited resource. What compels you to give your time? What do you give up to do it?

blood
January 16, 2012

On Friday I gave blood.
I love giving blood. Why?

It’s certainly not the tedious waiting, or answering the same questions I answered 3 months earlier, or getting a needle stuck in my vein, nor is it the snacks with hydrogenated oils offered me when I’m done (though I appreciate the irony).

It’s because it’s the most visceral and tangible giving I do on a regular basis. I can’t do it alone. I’m somewhat vulnerable in the process. I offer life fluid taken from my body, my veins to put into other people in my community I may or may not know, like or respect.  And I’m not the doer; it’s done to me.

In short, it is as close to what I think of as Pure Giving as I’ve gotten: without motive, ego, control, and literally something that is mine to give.

I’d like to know what your most Pure Giving action is. I’d also like to know if you have a better term for it.