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.

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

July 4, 2013

my daughter belongs to a teen youth group. they meet once a week and also go on several trips over the year. the trips, which can involve  plane flights and hotels, are heavily subsidized. Even so, sometimes we can’t afford to send her without a further scholarship which the group always grants us graciously.

as parents we couldn’t be more grateful for this youth group. our daughter is having a great time in a safe environment. she gets to take fun trips that we can’t take as a whole family. we’re indebted to this youth group.

so every year, we make a donation. we write them a check for a piddling amount of money, not even $50.

why bother?

we do it because we want them to know we appreciate what they provide
we do it because something is better than nothing
we do it because even if we can’ always pay our way, we can at least add to the donors list when that number matters in their annual report and fundraising efforts
we do it because we would be ashamed not to

it’s a gesture. it has zero impact on their bottom line. one could even argue it’s self-centered on our part. nevertheless it matters to the organization, because we’re recognizing what they’re doing for our daughter as best we can. we’re saying what you do matters and thank you.

what is the value of a gesture?