This past year, it seems like #GivingTuesday all of a sudden became a “thing.” I was intrigued by the sheer volume of social media posts I saw either asking for money or just passing along some inspired words about giving. #GivingTuesday organizers reported an impressive 100% rise in giving from the same day in 2012.
As a veteran fundraiser, I love seeing an inspiring and coordinated effort to encourage people to give. But I fear that nothing short of a global shift in human consciousness will actually make social change financially viable. Recently, philanthropic advisor and trend spotter, Tracy Gary, shared that despite the S&P 500 being up about 28% in 2013, philanthropic giving in the US (which typically tracks the stock market) is tragically lagging, expected to increase around 3-4% in 2013. Why, when all signs point to the end of the US economic crisis, have we spiraled into a generosity crisis?
When The Pollination Project began in July, 2012, I had considered myself a pretty financially generous person. When you bust your butt on a daily basis to raise money, you learn quickly the importance of giving it away. I’ve always given what I could, when I could. But I didn’t think I could give enough to really make a difference, or that my giving strategy was good enough to actually change anything. I wrote checks to groups I liked, or groups that my friends and family asked me to support, and hoped for the best. Back then, I thought giving was mostly a simple financial transaction with some feel-good benefits.
Now with our work at the Pollination Project, I am inundated with goodness every day. I have seen firsthand that the more attention I put on seeding the good in the world, the more gets created. Goodness magnifies when we feed it.
Just a two months ago, I started my own daily generosity practice, allocating $2 of my own personal money to be part of the $1000 that we give every day. Having a financial stake in each of the grantees has meant that they are now more to me than cool people who I get to give money to as part of my job. They are people whose work I am now tied to through this sacred bond of “green energy”.
I have finally learned that changing the world isn’t just about the money (although money helps for sure). It is about connection, relationship and—yes—it is about love. Being in a direct connection to where my donated money is going has led to me nearly doubling my own giving this year. “Being generous” has taken on a much bigger meaning to me, and my daily life is far richer because of it.
Just this week, my family started a practice of saving $1 a day in bank that was made from a used water bottle and painted by children living in the slums of Ahmedabad India. My four year old son leaps with excitement every day when it is time to put money in the colorful bottle bank- knowing that at some point we will give the money to someone who needs it. Every dollar we’ve put in that bank is filled with purpose and care. It is our daily reminder that we have enough, and that our lives are intertwined with the fate of humanity worldwide. This simple exercise is now teaching us that money can be a currency for a global conversation about connection and love.
So here’s an idea: What if every day of your life could be #GivingTuesday?
Will a simple act of #dailygiving completely obliterate the American generosity crisis? Probably not. But will it change your life? You bet.
By Alissa Hauser, Executive Director