Friday, May 21, 2010

Andrew Returns with Word of Other Givers!

After nearly a month-and-a-half absence, I'm back to the blog. I wish that I could say the absence was entirely due to my immense giving efforts, or because I was hard at work on the book, but the fact is that I have mostly been distracted by the day job and the coming of spring.

And, to be honest, after 40 days of giving away my entire income, I was slightly burned out, so needed a break from blogging about the subject, for at least a little while. Through this sabbatical, I have had some time to work on the book. From now on, I will continue to use the blog to detail great giving opportunities, as well as to present my thoughts on giving.

My colleague in giving, Brigid Slipka, has been more diligent about continuing to chronicle her giving thoughts and activities on her Actually Giving blog. If you haven't checked it out, it's truly a great, thoughtful read, and well worth the time. Brigid isn't the only giver out there, of course, or even the only giving blogger, and I figure that my return to the blog is as good a time as any to cover some of the other major voices out there talking about this subject!

A Year of Giving
A Washington, DC, gentleman named Reed is doing a Year of Giving project, which involves giving $10 a day for the entire year. Amazingly, he started this project when he got laid off, which shows far more commitment than even my full-income-for-40-days giving plan! If I didn't have an income, I have to admit that I'd find it really hard to give. Kudos to Reed!

Reed is clearly also a more social than yours truly, who tends to be fairly introverted and hesitant to approach people he doesn't know. Reed gives the $10 to individuals by walking up to them and having a prolonged conversation. On his Year of Giving blog, Reed chronicles the stories of these recipients, including a page of people that he's encountered who need some help beyond what he's in a position to offer. With his year-long timeline, he's even caught the attention of CNN.

One of Reed's goal appears to be to establish June 15 as a Worldwide Day of Giving, where as many people as possible give $10 (or more, if able) to a complete stranger. I wholeheartedly endorse this project, and hope that the readers on this blog will join with Reed, myself, and others across the country and world in this endeavor!

Giving One Day's Wages
Eugene Cho believes in giving, so he started an organization called One Day's Wages, which tries to motivate people to give their wages from a single day toward solving problems of severe poverty in the world. The organization was founded by Eugene and his wife, Minhee, who clearly believe in their mission - they donated 100% of their 2009 income (a total of $68,000!) to the cause of fighting extreme global poverty. They continue to give to the organization, trying to reach a personal goal of giving $100,000. This is a major "put your money where your mouth is" step, and lends them a great deal of credibility when they ask others to give just one day's wages.

How much is one day's wages? It turns out to be just about 0.4% of your income. This is certainly an amount which could be given away without a severe hardship on most people, so is something worth considering. And, of course, if you have a more specific charity that you'd like to support than Eugene's, then you can take this philosophy of giving and use it toward the charity of your choice. My guess is that once you start giving, though, you'll find that one day's wages aren't nearly enough, and you'll begin looking for ways to give more.

29 Gifts
Gifts of money are nice, but of course they aren't the only way you can give. In fact, on an interpersonal level, I'd argue that they aren't even the best way to give. Enter Cami Walker, the author of the wildly successful giving book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, who began her giving activities while having trouble dealing with the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. The gifts she describes are more spontaneous giving activities, which are not focused on the giving of money. Her first gift was, in fact, a supportive phone call to a fellow MS patient. As she details the story, she had amazing mental and physical benefits from this emphasis on giving, and she's founded a 29-Day Giving Challenge to spread the message that she's learned..

This confirms my research - both the reading that I've been doing, and my personal experience with my own giving project. Giving really does have profound, scientifically-proven implications that it will improve many aspects of your life.

Yes, after 40 days I was slightly burned out ... but it wasn't a bad kind of burned out. I imagine that it is sort of how one feels after running a marathon. You're very happy that you've reached the finish line, you probably want to curl up into a nice bed for a few days, but you're immensely satisfied at the sense of accomplishment. That was me.

Now the fatigue has worn off, and I'm looking for the next marathon, the next way to get the rush that comes from giving to others. I've got some great ideas, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

What are your ideas? What givers have motivated you? What is your giving story?