For 14 years now I’ve been obsessed with a single thought. It’s a question really. A question I’ve asked a million times. And it took flying all the way to Africa to even realize it was bothering me. The question is – Why is a charitable donation so disengaging? There are other words I could
I’ll never again underestimate the power of seeing with your own eyes the result of something you’ve contributed toward.
Just weeks after officially registering Givesome as a nationally based not-for-profit I thought it was time I seriously put my theory to the test. I knew how much it meant to me to get to see the difference my giving made, but now I wanted to see if it meant as much to others. I also wanted to see if it really mattered whether you were physically present to witness the impact a particular event had on the recipient(s) or if watching it on video was just as meaningful.
So I put it to the test. I called my good friend Nathan, a gifted videographer and pitched an idea to shoot a video that would take us all the way to Africa and back. Nathan had never been to Africa, and this was a long way to go just to prove a theory, but he was all in, and I was off buying two return tickets to Namibia.
The plan was simple: we’d throw a party with a bunch of friends, tell them about a particular opportunity that they could get involved in, collect some money, fly to Namibia to fulfil the opportunity and then fly back home and show them what they did.
To do this we would need to document everything – the party, the travel, the fulfillment of the opportunity, and their true and honest reactions when watching the footage for the first time. Would this be like any other ‘donation’ or would it hold some special meaning because of their ability to see the end result?
The planning came together in a matter of weeks, and then Nathan arrived with a couple of cameras to shoot the backyard party. We had about 40 people show up and I talked about the incredible work that my friend Kamati was doing in the largest slum in Namibia. At the time he was caring for over 300 vulnerable children through an after school program that he had established. He and a small team would feed them, mentor them and care for them through tutoring and sports. It was winter and the evening temperatures would often drop below zero (degrees Celsius). The opportunity was to purchase 300+ blankets for these children to help keep them warm at night. It was a simple, tangible need that we could help fulfill in partnership with the work that Kamati was already committed to carrying out.
We ended up raising more than we needed and then hopped on a plane and flew 3 days to Namibia, to meet up with Kamati and purchase the blankets. We emptied out an entire department store, and the next day we were warmly welcomed by the children through heartfelt speeches and some singing and dancing. As though this wasn’t emotional enough, we got to see what these simple blankets meant to the children and their reaction to receiving them. Our hearts full, we left Kamati and his team and flew back home to show our friends what happened.
Would it matter that they got to see the kids, the blankets and Kamati and his team? Would this move them? Would it inspire them more than a thank you note? Would this leave them with an impression that if we work together we really can create positive change?
We met in their homes and showed them our footage…and got our proof. We witnessed the power of connection. I saw for myself in the eyes and faces of my friends the difference that seeing can have. Eyes lit up, emotions were expressed and tears where shed. I even shed tears, and I was there! It’s a powerful thing to be able to see with your own eyes and feel in your own heart the depth of what you’re capable of when you’re given the opportunity to connect.
This experiment proved it for me. And I hope we play even a small role in helping prove to a handful of others that when you truly experience the power of giving you realize there’s nothing much better.
See the video here…