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
“It takes a big man to cry. But it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man.” By far one of my favorite Jack Handy quotes. If you’ve got a quirky (read brilliant) sense of humour and you’ve never heard of Jack Handy’s ‘Deep Thoughts’ do yourself a favor and look them up.
As I reflect on not only another year, but all the way back to the beginning of this journey, there are a few things that consistently boil to the surface as being part of the norm most days. And one of them is tears. And I don’t just mean the ‘I must just have something in my eye’ kind of tears that you attempt to write-off to dust particles. But genuine, free flowing, owning-up-to-it kind of tears that require a Kleenex or a shirt sleeve.
It happens in pretty well every setting – corporate pitches, discussions with charities, one-on-one coffee dates, phone calls, debriefs. I’ve personally never been part of something that has elicited so much emotion from so many people and I must admit, it is quite refreshing.
This is an honest look into what seems to be happening inside of other people, often complete strangers, as they hear about some of the stories and opportunities within Givesome.
The emotion I see (and feel) on a daily basis I believe boils down to a couple of key reasons or triggers.
#1. The realization of how much it means and how easy it is
I think we’re often guilty of over complicating giving. We do this by thinking we need to ‘arrive’ at something first – a good career, a better income, more time, a beloved cause. But the truth is you just need to ‘do’. I watch people hear simple stories about other people taking small steps to make a difference and the reaction is very often an emotional one. Why? I think because simple stories remind us how uncomplicated it is to help someone. It is one of the greatest feelings you can experience, and yet it doesn’t take much to take part. There is something about the simplicity of saying ‘yes’ (and then being able to watch the effect that it has on someone) that cuts deep to the emotions. It’s wonderful. Embrace it. Say yes. Watch how easy it is.
#2. Taking our eyes momentarily off of ourselves
Those good at giving learn to do this more and more. Looking at the app for tangible opportunities to help means momentarily concerning ourselves with someone else’s need. Though brief, it pushes our stresses and deadlines and to-do lists and problems to the background and gives us something or someone else to think about. And that sudden, sometimes unexpected shift can be quite emotional. It puts things into perspective, shows us things aren’t as bad as they might seem and empowers us to make a difference. This is emotional. And being reminded that we each have that ability is emotional. What a great mental break! But get ready for what this momentary new perspective may do to dampen the areas below your eyes.
#3. See people differently
I tell people that seeing the tangible project that you chose to support come to fruition helps prove that it was indeed completed. And that is true. But what it also does, and what is even better, is that it shows you there are real people on the other end. I think it’s important to realize that when you contribute towards someone’s well being you are helping a real person. That’s the reason I try and use real stories of real people as often as possible. When we give, we don’t just support causes and building projects and medical initiatives… we help people. The single biggest cause of emotion that I continue to see on a daily basis comes from when people see other people. In photos, in stories and in cell phone videos. This brings people to life and lets you see them differently. Not as a project, but as a person. This has a tremendous impact – on donors, employees, business leaders I meet and on my partner Adam – who’s tough exterior will no longer fool me! I love giving people the ability to see who they help. The reaction it produces makes it all worth it.
So go ahead ‘bigger man’. Have a chuckle. I don’t mind. After two years of seeing how emotionally connected people become when they decide to make a difference, and then see the difference they’ve made, I know now that we of the watery eyes are not alone!