I work for a charity and meet with people who donate significant amounts, but I don’t ask them to give money.
I used to do that, and it felt wrong. I felt like I was apologising every time I wanted to meet with them and that they thought I only wanted something from them…which was kind of true – their money.
I got tired of that feeling and of asking people to give money, so I decided to try something else.
Instead of asking people to give, I now invite people to fulfil their purpose through generosity. By giving money to Opportunity, an organisation that they are passionate about, our supporters are finding a way to fulfil their purpose.
They are bringing dignity to those living in poverty.
They are giving back some of what they have received.
They are living out their values.
They are showing care and concern for their fellow human beings.
They are releasing the hold that money can have on those who have it.
They are being generous and reaping the rewards that generosity bring.
So I don’t ask for money. I offer a pathway to purpose.
I have had some irate phone calls in my time. People who have called me just to tell me how upset they were to receive something in the post, or an email that I sent. I wonder what moves people to do that. What upsets them so much about being asked to donate money to a cause that they simply must call and give a piece of their mind. Often, I wasn’t the one who sent the offending piece of mail or email. But they are offended, and I am the person they know.
That’s okay. I understand that. Especially if someone receives many requests to give money. But I don’t think that’s the reason for everyone who calls. Some people’s reaction is disproportionate to the size of the offence. Their outrage over a letter asking them to support something amazing appears to be never ending. It must be something else.
Here’s what I think it is – they are offended by passion. Have you ever been around someone who is just so excited, so motivated, so passionate about what they are doing that they can’t seem to stop talking about it? The thing makes up much of their lives. It is the thing they are known for. Man, they are annoying. But only if you don’t share the same passion. If you love what they love then you can become best friends, but if you are not on board with their thing then their passion starts to wear thin pretty quickly.
Passion is offensive to those who don’t have it.
Partly because it reminds them that they don’t have it.
As you grow your passion about whatever you care about, know that some will be offended by it. Not because you are doing something evil, but because they are not willing to take the risk of caring deeply.
Somewhere along the lines we decided that if we got something in return for being generous, then that wasn’t okay. For some reason it was thought that for an act to be a good thing to do then we should receive no benefit from it at all.
It’s an interesting thought and has led to hundreds of years of miserable generosity. So many people have been missing out experiencing the joy of giving purely because they thought it was wrong. There is a danger though. A danger of only doing a good thing for a completely selfish reason without concern for others at all. I think we can all admit that that behaviour feels wrong and we should probably avoid it.
In saying that, I consider some things too important to care about whether people are doing it for the right reason. Like ending poverty for example. Australia lives in amongst some of the poorest countries, they are our neighbours. Why should we care?
Well, here are two selfish reasons from Bill Gates:
- For Our Safety
It is to our benefit to see developing countries improve their income which improves education. Education equals stability, and less reason for radical idealisation and terrorism.
Also, and this is a big one, if we can overcome poverty in developing countries this will lead to improved healthcare and less disease because they will be able to diagnose and treat diseases more effectively (did someone say Coronavirus?). If we can equip all countries with the best medical care, it will literally save our lives down the track.
2. For Our Prosperity
This should be a no-brainer for us, living in a capitalist society and all. If we have more countries overcoming poverty, creating extra income, then all of a sudden we have hundreds of millions of new potential customers for our products. In short, history shows us that a richer Japan equals a richer world. What about a richer Indonesia, or India, or Pakistan? We are leaving money on the table.
There are other non-selfish reasons as well, but surely these two are pretty significant by themselves.