$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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gestures
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?

giving what we need
June 10, 2013

my friend kim’s mother tells this story about her early days as a philanthropist going door to door in jewish neighborhoods to collect the contents of charity boxes for the local jewish Federation to use to help jewish communities at home and abroad. because she was going door to door, many in the neighborhood saw she was coming and had their donations ready. one particular neighborhood  included a home just before the outskirts with weeds growing in front, peeling paint,  and two cracked windows taped with newspaper. kim’s mother wasn’t even sure anyone lived there, so she turned around to leave. she hadn’t taken too many steps before she heard an old woman’s voice:
Young lady, young lady?
Yes, Mam, good afternoon, she replied.
Aren’t you the lady from the Federation?
Yes, Mam, I am.
Well then, come on in. I have something for you.
kim’s mom entered the woman’s home. she was frail and limping. it was clear from the state of things she was in need of assistance. she offered kim’s mother a cup of tea. they chatted for awhile, and then the woman gave her a handful of coins for the Federation. kim’s mom thanked her and added them to the others.
that afternoon, when she returned to the Federation office, she gave them the woman’s address so they could send a member of jewish child and family services to her to ensure she received the assistance she needed.
this is what kim’s mom says– we both got what we needed through the act of giving that day.

talkin bout legacy
May 27, 2013

everything the donating public has been taught about giving is dysfunctional, says AIDS Ride founder Dan Pallotta.

now, i’m not willing to go as far as “everything,” but i do agree there’s a lot of dysfunction in the way we think about and do philanthropy.

i implore all of us committed to philanthropy to participate in the process of taking a hard look at the thinking and perspectives that have been handed down to us and undertake some serious revising– and reinventing, if necessary. the goal is to pass on a better legacy, one that is more functional and builds in the process of evaluation and change necessary for any dynamic enterprise to be successful.

we could start the discussion right here. or we can gather elsewhere, in person or via the web.

who wants to join me?

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?

dan pallotta: the way we think about charity is dead wrong
April 20, 2013

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….

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?

getting
March 4, 2012

question:

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

expectations
February 26, 2012

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?