Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Making 2011 the Year of Giving

I have the privilege of meeting an extraordinary individual who taught me a thing or two about giving. When Reed started his project, called Year of Giving, a lot of people were suddenly given a fresh perspective on true generosity and genuine kindness.


Reed Sandridge at the time was unemployed, yet he made it a point to give $10 to random, anonymous strangers that he barely knew.

It's easy to give $10 if you have a stable job, a comfortable life or a steady income. It's easy to give away a fraction of the money that you're making. If you are Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, $1 Million Dollars is just like a Penny. But if you don't have a job, giving becomes a sacrifice it becomes more difficult - it gains more meaning.  

Reed proves that true kindness does not come from how much we can give, but in giving away something that's very valuable to us. If one is unemployed, giving away $10 bucks could feel like you're giving away $10 million dollars.



I had the pleasure to interview Reed and gain a little more insight about how this has impacted his life and what he plans to do next:

Interview with Reed Sandridge, http://www.yearofgiving.org:


1. Two words: "Greatest Impact" to you, to others, to the project?


REED: I think what you mean is what do those two words mean to me as it relates to me, others and the project.  

If so, here goes.

Greatest impact to me: Kindness is contagious and I have found myself being more generous and kind in other areas of my life.  About two months into my project I saw a broken down car with a man asking for help in a dangerous neighborhood.  It was late at night and normally I would not stop probably, but I did because you start to push yourself each day.

Greatest impact to others: I served as an example for others to realize that they too can go outside of their comfort zone during difficult times and do things that they thought they couldn't do.  I believe almost everyone has this inner goodness inside us but sometimes we need a little push to move us to action.

Greatest impact to the project: The greatest impact to the project was the internet which provide a forum for hundreds of thousands of people to participate.



2. Now that a year has passed, do you plan on taking the project to a whole new and different level?

REED: Absolutely.  For 2011 I have several new commitments.  First, I will continue to give $3,650 away however, not ten dollars a day and I won't be blogging about that.  
Second, I have created a forum of other individuals who are out of work to take on the same challenge for seven days and give US$10, or the equivalent in their country, to a new stranger each day and share their experience on yearofgiving.org.  

Third, I have made a commitment to volunteer once per week for a year.  

Fourth, I am advocating for other unemployed individuals to volunteer their time while they are out of work.  We currently have 15 million individuals in the US who are out of work.  If we take an arbitrary hourly salary for each of them of $20 and calculate the value of each of them spending an eight our day volunteering, it comes up to $2.4 billion.  Now the average person is unemployed for six months right now, so double that amount and you get the total potential for the US for a year.  $4.8 billion is a seismic amount.  To put that into perspective, that is more than the economy of Zimbabwe!  Or three times the economy of Belize!

The last area that I plan to work on this year is to encourage companies to create programs that allow employees to use one day a year (at a minimum) to volunteer preferably in a structured environment where the employees work together on projects.



a.  If the opportunity arises, would you be open to a corporate sponsored endeavor? One where you get to do what you've been doing on a bigger scale?

REED: I wasn't open to sponsorship for my $10/day commitment, because I made that myself.  However, related to the future plans that I have I would consider it but it would depend very much on profile of the company.


3. Aside from blogging, what are you up to now? What are your long term plans and goals?

REED: I am very fortunate to have two jobs.  I am a Regional Director of Development for a global conservation organization and the Executive Director for the Urban Philharmonic, a local nonprofit symphony orchestra that performs in neighborhoods of varying socio-economic levels.  As for long term goals, I hope to one day have a family and continue working with others around the world to find meaning in their lives.


4. What do you think of the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

REED: I agree with it very much.  That is why my new focus is on volunteering and helping individuals and organizations achieve their goals and objectives.


5. Finally, would you do it all over again?

REED: Absolutely!

Image from http://www.yearofgiving.org

Reed proves that you don't have to a millionaire to give.

Here's to making 2011 the Year of Giving 

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