I swear, this is not what I typically spend my weekend nights doing. Really.
I swear, this is not what I typically spend my weekend nights doing. Really.
Great trailer on How To Be A Philanthropist In The 21st Century. This short clip gives a general overview of where philanthropy is heading in our lifetime.
The creators write, “Despite us still being in the midst of a global recession, the number of super-wealthy individuals is on the rise, increasing by 8 per cent a year for the last 10 years, according to Merrill Lynch, and there are now 450,000 millionaires in the UK alone.”
(That seems to make basic sense to me. Money leaves one place, it must go somewhere else, right? Or maybe not. I’m no smartie pants.)
But even for the average non-millionaire, we need to really assess how we’re giving. As one woman (Dame Stephanie Shirley) says in the video, it’s not about how much we give, but how we give.
“Billions are wasted on ineffective philanthropy. Philanthropy is decades behind business in applying rigorous thinking to the use of money.”
- Michael Porter
People get offended when I criticize or question (tactfully!) an organization. But the truth is, we need to be wise when it comes to investing in a better world — or else we just end up throwing money and effort at the world and hoping it sticks.
(I originally just titled this “On being wary of NGOs and aid organizations.”)
So a number of my friends are working together to support a major international aid NGO. I have to preface that I don’t dislike this organization. I think they do decent work with good intentions, but as many of us know, good intentions are not always enough. I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly investigate this organization in recent years, but based on its past I do know it’s not the first organization that I would want to throw money at. I’d rather invest in an organization that focuses on long-term impact and in which I value its efforts 100%. Growing up, my parents and I supported said NGO, but between our mediocre experience with it and my continual education on aid and development, we’ve ceased giving money quite a number of years ago.
Because my friends, whom I care for quite a bit, are working so hard to give support to this NGO, I’ve just been keeping my mouth shut about my feelings on its efficiency or effectiveness. I kind of slide out of the conversation whenever it comes up and try to just politely be a bystander. (I do plan to support in some manner, if possible, without going too much against my beliefs.)
However, recently I got cornered. One girl directly asked me to support in a major way. Initially, I made up some other excuses, as I had before when general requests were made to our social circles, but somehow she squeezed out of me the truth: I’d support in a small way (like giving some money to show support for my friends’ efforts), but I couldn’t go and actually advocate on behalf of this NGO or participate in one of the programs that I don’t strongly support.
I was pretty quickly told that I was hard-hearted and arrogant, with implications that I also am closed-minded and enjoy being negative. Despite the fact that I was being antagonized, I was the one that ended up feeling bad. This girl looked like she was going to cry (and punch me). I tried to be diplomatic and tactful, but it didn’t matter. I simply was not as good of a person as I claimed to be because I didn’t want to be a champion for an NGO that gave money to little poor children in Africa. Apologies if that sounded crass.
(I have other theories on why the conversation went so sourly, and it has little to do with the actual NGO, but that’s not something I will blast here.)
Anyways, that conversation made me realize how difficult it is to have the average American really understand what development and social impact really looks like, and how charity and “doing good” needs a huge overhaul.
I’m not super knowledgeable or experienced in this by any means and have much to learn myself, but I do know we need to be investing our money and efforts more wisely. We need to question the institutions through whom we are channeling our giving, and we need to demand more transparency, efficiency, and long-term impact.
I swear I’m not a snob. I just care.
“Happy valentine’s day, lil lady!”
“Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. And Generosity Day!”
“It’s Generosity Day!”
“Saint Generosity? Never heard of him.”
Real text conversation at 8:00am this morning.
I’m not super savvy on my saints, but I’m going to say that there is no St. Generosity. But that doesn’t mean today can’t be rebranded as Generosity day.
Evidently, at last year’s Social Media Week (held around Valentine’s Day), Katya Andresen of Network for Good, Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund, and Ellen McGirt of Fast Company all sat on a panel for a session called “Nonprofits Using Social Media To Close Doors For Good.” The panel was introduced by Scott Case of Malaria No More, who led the session in brainstorming ideas and solutions for social entrepreneurs and non-profiters in the audience.
Afterwards, Sasha was discussing his “Generosity Experiment” with Katya, in which he said YES to everyone who asked him for help for an entire month. The discussion inspired him to take back Valentine’s Day and celebrate a different kind of love. He launched Generosity Day 2011, utilizing social media platforms, reaching out to his network, and partnering with Network for Good. The inspired Sasha then inspired others to rebrand their Valentine’s Day to Generosity Day by “doing good.”
And this year, Generosity Day is back. Individuals and organizations worldwide are spreading the word and showing some love, not just to significant others and special loved ones in their lives, but to their neighbors, their communities, and even strangers on the street.
Below is another video, made by the interns at Pencils of Promise: “#GenerosityDay Fail.” The part about holding the door open has happened to me more than once.
And one more video made by Jason & the crew from Jubilee Project: “What is Love?”
Enjoy, and happy loving!
Some favorite quotes I’ve been seeing fill up my feeds today:
Life has been a bit crazy and stressful for me lately (hence, a lack of updates…even more so than typical). Between work, and side projects, and family, and relationships, and interviews, and ideas, and meetings, and financial issues, and being nomadic, and life decisions, I just have been non-stop moving, sometimes robotically, which is completely not my style.
I’ve been feeling especially disjointed these past few days. Waking up this morning was difficult because I was just drained — mostly emotionally and spiritually but a bit physically too.
Eventually, I got up from the slab of ice I slept on last night (no heat), went to my computer, and got on my grind. After a while of working, I checked my TweetDeck and saw more than one tweet about the Holstee manifesto (see below). Evidently, they launched a new a LifeCycle film of the manifesto.
It totally made my morning better and reminded me of who I am and what I believe (sorry if that sounds cheesy or dramatic or cliche — but there’s no other way to say it). You can read their manifesto below or just watch the video.
…but it was probably good in the long run.
Sometimes people resent being pushed out the door. They feel hurt and rejected. They feel angry. They get upset about the bruises, which fade anyways.
But the truth is, you wouldn’t have gone along the path you did and gotten where you really wanted to be if people just let you stay inside and allowed you to think that right there was the best place for you. And worse, you would have probably eventually resented them anyways for keeping you from a bigger adventure outside that door.
So yeah, it’s unfortunate when doors get slammed and you’re left outside. But grab your stuff and keep walking down the road. I guarantee it leads somewhere.
Many of my friends have heard me say something to the extent of, “Isn’t it crazy how…[insert something relatively normal in our modern society]?” I always find technology, and how far along it’s come, to be absolutely fascinating and something my mind sometimes needs a moment to really think about. When I tell people about my wonder, they tend to think I’m weird. Understandable, since we live in a hyper-connected, super tech-savvy society where 10-year-olds spend recess downloading apps to their phones and the concept of putting pen to paper to communicate with someone seems like an ancient one. It’s amazing though, right?
Brian sent me this clip this morning with the added message, “This should be the official video of #firstworldpains.” Louis CK on Conan O’Brien about how amazing our world is today and how nobody appreciates it.
Really interesting video on mobile stats in Africa. Pretty phenomenal, no?