why we think like we do

May 4, 2013 - Leave a Response

in his fascinating TED talk, dan pallotta offers the following take on the origins of our american perspective on giving.

pallota believes our ideology comes from Puritan beliefs. he explains that although we commonly learn Puritans came to America for the sake of religious freedom that they also came to make $. pallaota claims Puritans were really aggressive capitalists. this presented them with a dilemma. their self-interest (capitalist tendencies) would lead to eternal damnation. to reconcile these two contradictory values they turned to charity. they could do penance for their capitalist self-interest at 5% on the dollar. so charity developed out of a desire for  (and as a means of) doing  penance, not as a method (or a desire)  to help the less fortunate or solve social problems.

framed this way, it’s easy to see why there can exist an inherent conflict in the act of giving as we have come to understand it. it would, in fact make sense that our philanthropy puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable, so to speak.

what would it look like and how would it feel to step out of this giving legacy?

dan pallotta: the way we think about charity is dead wrong

April 20, 2013 - Leave a Response

in a recent and fabulous TED talk, dan pallotta spoke about many aspects of giving i will visit in my posts. i highly recommend anyone concerned about philanthropy and/or solving issues of health, hunger and poverty listen and take heed:

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong.html

i will be posting about pallotta’s take on:

  • why we see philanthropy the way we do
  • morality vs. frugality
  • the potential for our generational legacy

stay tuned….

caught

April 6, 2013 - Leave a Response

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 - One Response

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 - Leave a Response

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 - Leave a Response

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 - Leave a Response

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.

getting

March 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

question:

is why and how you give related to
why and how you get?

expectations

February 26, 2012 - Leave a Response

lately i’ve noticed the current consumer allure is the free gift; we get one either just for showing up at a retail store  on a certain day and/or we get one as the incentive if we buy something that day. the main enticement to purchase used to be the attraction of something new, then on sale, but even that often isn’t  enough anymore. we expect to get something “extra” from the people making money from us. in other words, these days they have to give us something to get us to buy something– like the banks in the old days that gave us a toaster if we opened up an account with them.

wondering what this has to do with mindful giving?

expectations.

as you expect, so shall you give; true or false?

give: dictionary definitions

February 14, 2012 - 2 Responses

these definitions of give are courtesy of dictionary.com, and i think they’re worth considering in terms of the ways we think about and like to give:

to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow

to hand to someone.

to place in someone’s care.

to grant (permission, opportunity, etc.) to someone

to impart or communicate: to give advice

to yield somewhat

to collapse

offer, vouchsafe, impart, accord, furnish, provide, supply, donate, contribute, give, confer, grant, present

Give is the general word: to give someone a book, permission, etc.

Confer usually means to give an honor or a favor; it implies courteous and gracious giving: to confer a degree.

Grant is limited to the idea of acceding to a request; it may apply to the bestowal of privileges, or the fulfillment of an expressed wish: to grant a charter, a prayer, permission, etc

Present, a more formal word than give, usually implies a certain ceremony in the giving: to present a citation to a regiment.