On my birthday and the Thanksgiving Challenge

20 Nov

As part of this whole having a 40 year mission thing, I’ve been interested in what it means to actually give.

Part of what started me thinking about this was Sascha Dichter’s generosity experiment, where he decided to say YES to everyone for a set period of time. He decided on a month – and ended up with some great insights. Including how Seth Godin hilariously asked him for money, knowing that Sascha couldn’t say no.

Sascha took this experiment and turned it into “Generosity Day” – which happened for the first time on Valentine’s Day of this year. People were asked to say “YES to everything that is asked of you, all day long”. And knowing that Generosity Day is a very personal thing, and very difficult to “talk about it without having experienced it”, Sascha has announced a warm up to Generosity Day 2012 – the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Try it next week, for the week or just for one day.  Consider it your Generosity Day Dry Run, so that you can speak with gusto and authenticity when the big day arrives.

So what am I going to do?

I’m going to use my birthday on Thursday (LOVE birthdays!) to say YES to absolutely everyone that asks. And for the rest of this week I’m going to say YES to the first price offered by every local driver here in the Philippines.

(More of a relief than anything else, I assure you!)

In addition, my family have been asking what they can give me. It’s trickier for them than normal this year – they’re in Australia, I’m in the Philippines and my kindle is in Cambodia (long story).

Perfect I thought. This year I’m going to pick a charity for my Birthday AND Christmas presents.

And so which charity?

I spent some time looking around Give Well’s page – these guys are obsessed with finding top quality charities – but noted that they are just about to release new recommendations for the year.

And I also realise that part of the purpose of Generosity Day is not just about rationale – it’s also about emotion.

I have always been deeply affected by human trafficking – not least since reading the beautiful but terrifying Sold by Patricia McCormick and spending time with World Education and other friends who work with trafficked women in Nepal.

And then this from the NY Times grabbed me this morning. The personal sacrifice astounds and inspires me. (Update: an even better article is here)

This year, I’m asking my family to donate to the Somaly Mam Foundation – I’m also going to try and visit them when I travel to Cambodia in a month’s time.

(And as my gift back to my family – YES, here is a tax deductible alternative, should that be how they choose to give).


As a side note – words which echo my sentiment on on why a mission is better than a plan

2 Responses to “On my birthday and the Thanksgiving Challenge”

  1. Sasha November 21, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    Love it! Can’t wait to hear how it all goes. Please let me know.


  1. On having a mission – 8 months on « Learnings and Lovings - June 17, 2012

    […] a pilot project, bringing light to one community. For the remainder of the sum I asked that all my Christmas and birthday presents from the last year be donations to charity (pre-selected by […]

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