$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

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giving & getting apartheid
July 16, 2013

in his provocative TED talk, dan pallotta claims there’s an apartheid system between business and non-profits —separate rule books.  he encapsulates his perspective through 5 areas of discrimination:

*Compensation— how much $ professionals in the field earn
*Advertising & Marketing — how much of our donations/investment we consider reasonable for an organization to spend on these
*Risk in Pursuit of Revenue— our tolerance for/support of  taking risks with our donations/investments that include failure in the pursuit best practices
*Time— our tolerance for donating/investing over time without success (pallotta points out it took Amazon 6 yrs until it turned a profit, but investors stuck it out)
*Profits — providing a stock market, a mechanism to reward donors/investors on a significant and meaningful level

i will post about each of these individually. anyone want to request which one to start with?

why we think like we do
May 4, 2013

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?

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.