I have a theory that you get more enjoyment and thrill from giving back than you do getting something for yourself personally.
In my younger days I would rarely give to charities.
I was skeptical whether the funds I might give to them would go directly to the source that needed it. We often see areas of the world which need help whether that be financial (monetary aid) or physical (food aid), and they’re riddled with corruption. Using Haiti as one example, they’re still suffering from the earthquake which crippled them because the money that was sent to the country has been used or spent by corrupt agencies or officials.
The thing which frustrates me the most is that the countries which provide this aid just carry on giving without finding a way around it. Surely that money or aid can be given in a better way, which goes directly to the source and can help those in need. It’s likely not as easy as that, but there are agencies and charities who can go directly to source and are doing great work.
Since my youth I’ve been more inclined to wait and find those that need assistance or help and give back.
And you know what not only do I enjoy it but I thrive on the thought that I’ve given back, that I’ve helped someone in need. These are some of the things I’ve done, which have gone directly to the source.
I joined Kiva.org a few years ago and have made two small investments in people and it all started with $25. Once the first loan was paid off, I used that cash to then go and invest the money in someone else. The fact that I can invest $25 along with other folk from around the world to fund a mother of six in a far away country to purchase materials so that she can make products and sell them to support her family all the while paying the loan back over a number of months is truly amazing.
I found out about our local Food Bank when out shopping one day. I didn’t fully understand what they were or why they were needed until I saw a documentary on them. Food banks collect food and give to those in poverty and there’s a much higher rate of poverty in the UK than you’d think. Some entire families are living on less than £5 a week to pay for food.
The Food Bank provide a little shopping list of things you can donate, which keep for a while, that they can store and give to those in need. I read an article one day that said you could purchase a weeks food on less than £6. So I tried to do just that, I went in to our local store and bought everything on the list. I managed to get everything for around £7.50. When other people were dropping off the odd can of beans or jar of coffee’s my Wife, daughter and I tipped up with 2 full bags of shopping. The volunteers at the desk were shocked, it clearly wasn’t normal for that to happen but I wanted to learn more about the food bank and who were directly in need. The volunteer talked me through that there were kids in our area, in poverty who were having 1 meal a day or less. I took one look at our little girl and promised that I’d try to do more. Now every time the Food Bank are at our local store, we purchase that same shopping list. £7.50, the same price as a couple of coffees and a cookie from Starbucks.
charity: water. The first time I heard about them, I think, was via Cameron Moll’s authentic jobs website. I watched one video, visited their website and found that every dollar donated went directly to providing clean: water to those who needed it. Every child in the world deserves clean water and they help make it so. So I set up my random act of kindness page and aim to raise as much as possible, for anything donated I’ll match. The cost of a coffee, sandwich or magazine can add up to providing clean water for those who really need it. A random act of kindness is you foregoing your daily coffee or sandwich and even your weekly or bi-weekly magazine.
If I ever see a charity box, I’ll drop some change in that I have in my pocket, if I’m given change I ask the store owner if they have a charity box they can put it in. Lots of little amounts make a big amount that can change someone’s life.
If I ever get take-out food, or go to a restaurant – I randomly tip larger amounts just to see the look on the persons face. Especially if the staff members have been great to my kids if I’m with them.
I’ve started to give back to our Industry when I can, this year I supported an event in London so they could provide their attendees with some food and refreshments. I know how hard it is personally with running Industry Conf to be able to do that kind of thing, and giving back really does help the micro-events.
I’ve had some bad experiences with Kickstarter where the items I’ve backed have taken over a year to reach me (some over 18 months), however, I continue to back various projects when I can. These aren’t huge amounts and are often around the $25-$50 mark depending on the project I’ve backed. If I can see the passion in the person doing the Kickstarter and see value in the product, that’s generally when I’ll back them.
If you’re wondering how I managed to do all of this or think it sounds like a lot of money, it’s not. I try to do 1 or 2 things a month out of the above. How do I finance them? I simply cut back on the things I might purchase normally that don’t add any value to me or my family. Go to Starbucks everyday? That’s £15 a week or more. Buy things ‘just because’? I used to do that, now I give something back.
Giving back is addictive, knowing you can help is addictive. If you want to know what giving back looks like to the person receiving it, watch this video and this collection.