holiday cards

Give AND Get

We have all been told that it is better to give than to receive. I know as a kid this was never intuitive. We constantly wanted to receive. We had so many needs and wants. As a child, receiving was way better. But as we grew and matured we understood the wisdom in this maxim. You realize that you Get what you Give. That sharing is not an act of generosity but a necessity of the soul. Material things fade in importance and meaning replaces money. We understand that we have much more to give from our wealth, our wisdom, and our work. Guilt can motivate but gratitude sustains our generosity. We learn the intrinsic benefit of giving that redeems us as givers.

When you give, you feel generous, you feel powerful. When you think about others you strengthen yourself. While we may give to get these benefits, we need to always remind ourselves that we have the precious opportunity to give--we get to give.  Give-get1_11-282

For it is in giving that we receive. Francis de Assisi

As a country we are generous. We have been a model of philanthropy and giving of time and money for the world. But when we measure our efforts not as a comparison to other nations but to our own expectations we might come to different conclusions. 

The average US household gives about 4.2% of their income. Most of it goes to church , alma mater and to the hospital, about 67% of all giving. *

Wealthier people give less. Households making over $200,000 a year (top 5% of earners) who live in really nice neighborhoods give 50% less than the average American household. In fact only one zipcode of the top 20 wealthiest zipcodes (where average income approaches $500,000) is in the top 1000 zipcodes of giving %. *

So it is also surprising how little we give. Aren't you surprised? What should we give 5%, 10%, more? 

If we moved the needle to 5% fo all Americans individual giving would increase about $60 billion a year!

Each of us can give more. We can. 

But why do we give? What motivates us? 

In a newish book by Adam Grant, Give or Take, he details the benefits of giving. With decades of research he concludes there are three types of people. 

Givers: They give without expectation and make giving a priority. They look for giving opportunities not just react to them. 

Matchers: They keep track of the score. Who owes whom. They believe in full reciprocity and equity. I scratch your back......

Takers: They always make out  in all transactions even in giving. They are Me first.Only give if they gain.

Of course, few admit they are Takers, but we all know them. I meet gobs of them. They try to be subtle and sly but you spot them a mile away. Their favorite radio station is WII-FM. What's In It For Me! Giving to them is a deal where they reap the profit. Most people think they are Matchers, some are disguised Takers. Matchers see equity in giving. Matchers beleive in equity and that they should always get their fair share. Givers trust others intentions. They believe in giving first and last. Givers are represented at both ends of the barbell. Super successful and failures. People who give generously ascend their worlds or they foolishly give everything away without any self-interest. But givers who are not fools are the most successful.

Grant makes many surprising findings that basically reinforce the idea that unconditional giving to those in need, to a cause greater than themselves, builds a base of support and connects them to new worlds. In other words, it strengthens your network! A network that is diverse and "touches multiple domains and worlds."

Grant asserts that giving always helps the giver most. He describes many studies and cases here. Once the Giver understands the need, meets the people with need, connects with the need, then the Giver benefits more. Givers think of themselves as role models. They think about the consequences of not giving. Givers care. 

So as a fundraiser, I have met all types with every conceivable motivation and angle. In the non-profit world there is usually a "Give or Get" requirement for members of boards of directors. Meaning you have to give or get money for the non-profit with some $ minimum. Even though this is a "requirement" many do not meet it. I prefer Give AND Get--meaning you must give something personally to have "skin" in the game. The amount is what you can afford, but you need to be personally invested. My experience is that few board members meet and exceed these duties. They refuse to give. I have watched hedge fund managers whine like babies. Super wealthy folks give more excuses than a tardy teenager. These are phony givers. They masquerade as givers but do not give. They are Takers who are not truly committed to the cause or the organization they brag about serving. 

Some jaded and cynical people tell me that rich people got rich by being Takers. But as Grant shows in his book, true Givers are the ones who go to the top. 

On the other hand, I have met so many truly generous people who I aspire to be like. To always help. To always give. To always personally invest myself. These giving mentors have shown me the way. Taking is short term, and matching takes a lot of effort to keep track.  I have learned that my capacity to give can grow with practice and exercise. I can and must give more. 

So in life you have to Give AND Get. We all want to be givers. The more you give proactively the more you get. Your giving and the way you give mentors your children and everyone else who looks up you. If you give more without an expectation, without listening to WII-FM, you will receive so much more than you imagined. 

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

Thank you for giving me your attention. And for what you give to others. John

*Chronicle of Philanthropy study of giving 2013


Philanthropy for the 99%

We make ourselves so crazy during the holidays that we forget important things. We get easily caught up in the giving season and forget to give of ourselves--we  forget why we give. Don't get me started on the commercialization of this time of year and how we have been trained to buy our way into and out of the holidays. We all know in our hearts that material things can never repair or advance our relationships. We know that a single time of year of superficial contact will not sustain our network. Yet we fall into this trap, into this mental deception, on a pavlovian annual basis.

Presents will never replace our presence.

Let's be more philanthropic. 

This fancy P word can seem foreign and inappropriate for us who occupy the lower 99%. But let me assert that if you understand its true meaning we all need to adopt it as part of our lifestyle and habits all year long. 

φιλάνθρωπος philanthropos, combined two words: φίλος philos, "loving" in the sense of benefitting, caring for, nourishing; and ἄνθρωπος anthropos, "human being" in the sense of "humanity", or "human-ness". 

When we care about each other, about our fellow human beings--when we love each other--this is philanthropy. 

Giving is not a chore it is a habit. It is not a list of things to buy. It is your readiness and willingness to help others unconditionally. 

It is not a task to unburden our guilt. It is the joy of loving another. Of responding to needs with openness and kindness. 

Here are four quick tips to become more philanthropic:

1.Write a note: One of my greatest peeves is the un-signed holiday card. The mass mailed card that contains nothing human--not even the label is hand written! Yes the photo cards are nicer than a card with a pre-printed name, but wow have we lost our humanity. Writing a note that is personal and thoughtful is a beautiful thing and a lost art.

The thought does count, but you have to act on your thoughts.

2. Give the gift of time: Where you spend your attention and time defines what is important to you. Make a commitment to spend more time with those you care about and love. Don't just say it to yourself, but make a commitment to them. You need this as much as those you care about. Don't regret time lost with others. It will be you who loses. 

3. Give to your passions: Align your financial and volunteer giving with your passions--with the issues that are most important to you. Don't get stuck with giving because you "always" give to them. Or because someone else asked you to. Make your giving reflect who you are and who you care about. You will give more and get more. Your giving will have meaning to you and others.

4. Give more: As a nation we give about 4% of our income to charity. Actually, the middle class is the most generous and gives almost twice the percentage of their incomes as the super rich. However, we all need to give a little more.  We can afford it. There is a growing population at the bottom of our economy that is really hurting and suffering. Pick an issue or cause that resonates with you and give! You can make a difference with any amount of money. Give what you can.

These are the most important investments into your network. Networking your passions and care for others multiplies your impact and your opportunity to make a difference.

Jk and yunusA few weeks ago I had the great honor of meeting Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Laureate, the creator of micro-lending and the founder of the incredibly successful Grameen Bank. He was asked what corporations could do to be more philanthropic--how could their corporate social responsibility be more successful? He said, "If every corporation adopted 50 or 500 families in poverty and helped them, we would end poverty. We need to help each other."

We can easily get caught up in complex campaigns, strategies, and efforts that yield little change. Helping each other, helping people in need--will always make a difference.

Who do we know that needs our help? Who needs our help that we need to know?

We change the world one person at a time. We do.

You have so much more to share and to give to others.

Let's be more philanthropic, in the true sense of the word-- during the holidays and through the next year and the next.

Thank you for all you do for others and what you will do in the future!

Thanks for reading. John 

PS: Interviewed for LA Magazine's website on trends in philanthropy in Los Angeles


Don't take a holiday during the holidays

Taking a break from networking during the holidays is so dumb. I understand that people get overwhelmed with events, gatherings, obligations and shopping! But the best time to look for a job, make connections, reconnect, and strengthen EXISTING relationships is during the holidays. Why? Because, you will see, be with, and be around lots of people. People who you care about and who care about you.

 

Isn't that awkward? To mix business and pleasure?

 

You gotta be kidding. Still think the world works in distinctly separate worlds of personal and professional? Wake up and smell the egg nog!

 

The collision between the personal and professional is where new opportunities and ideas are generated. Make the most out of it.

 

After WHAT you know it is WHO you know. And WHO you help.

 

Networking is the process of connecting and conversing. It is not just getting the stuff or the job. It is the wonderful process of discovering things through others. It is the rewarding process of helping others. It is not just the tunnel vision stalking for a specific goal. Yes, you have very specific goals or needs, and networking helps you pursue them, but it also leads to the unintended and unanticipated. Getting desired results by accident---that's serendipity!

 

Yes I know you are busy and this is a busy season.

 

If you want something done ask a busy person. The more things you do, the more things you can do.  Lucille Ball

  

Busy times are the best times for things to happen. But don't get so busy with the chores that you miss the chances --the chances to connect. Don't rush past the reasons you are so busy.

 

For example, holiday cards are a nice way to reconnect--assuming you write something in them! I find it almost laughable that people send a card with their pre-printed name and nothing else. No photo, not letter, nothing personal. Like an unsmiling face that says in a monotone voice, "Nice to meet you." In my opinion that informationless card tells me I am just part of the masses--another undifferentiated recipient of a bulk mailing. I think some catalogues can be warmer and fuzzier. :)

 

Chicago_-_sholiday cardI have oft quoted the BYU marketing study where nearly 600 people were sent Xmas cards at random from the Chicago telephone book--the next year more than 20% sent cards back to a person they never met! That's how personal holiday cards can be! That's how robotic we are!

 

So if we choose to build our network with cardboard using impersonal holiday cards, not getting out to visit people, avoiding personal conversations and contact, then your network will be flimsy and weak.

 

Some people think of their network as an attic full of memories and previously useful things. They rustle through the "boxes" of these forgotten contacts when they need something.  Your network is not just a Rolodex of names, a lengthy list of friends on FB or even a collection of business cards. It is an organism, a living thing that needs nurturing and care.

 

This holiday season, make a special point to connect, engage and listen. Reconnect with people you like and care about. Even if it has been a long time. Make a personal effort to communicate and lend a hand.

  • Write a personal note and suggest you get together
  • Deliver a gift or card in person
  • Go to that extra holiday event to reconnect with old friends and meet new people
  • Host an event or two and invite some close and or new friends over.
  • Enjoy the holidays with others

So instead of resting I am saying do a little more. Get a little uncomfortable and push yourself to have more holiday presence. --Not more stressed but more connected.

The holidays are an extraordinary time to advance your goals and the goals of others. Don't take time off and don't say you are too busy.

 

The holidays are not a time to isolate yourself, but rather an excuse to deepen our sense of community and connection.

 

Thanks for reading. John


A Season for Networking

I know this can be a busy and stressful time of year, for you negative Scrooges! :) Seriously, this is the greatest time of the year and the best time to network with your family and friends. The holidays are the greatest "excuse", if you were looking for one, to reach out and reconnect.

  • send a holiday card, that you sign and insert a note, unsigned, noteless, cards are offensive!
  • deliver a small thank you gift to someone you appreciate, like a mentor
  • host a small party, meal for friends from different parts of your life
  • attend events and parties with a partner and help each other meet new people
  • engage people in conversations, instead of just exchanging holiday robotic greetings
  • give to the less fortunate, time, money, and emotional supportChimney

Duing the year, I hear hundreds of fear-filled stories about the anxiety of talking to people, meeting people, and reconnecting with people. There is an insatiable desire for gimmicks, techniques, and advantages to strengthen one's network. I have devoted 20 years to trying to disabuse folks from these quick fix solutions that are usually powered by an overdose of self-interest and a fixation on "me". We have to constantly remind ourselves that our successes are due to the help and support of so many others. We have to remember that the next opportunity will come from an unexpected place, but only if we connect. Being so focused on ourselves will guarantee one thing, you WILL miss the rest of the world. Think about others first!

Keith Ferrazzi, the networking author and guru offers great advice about how to throw a holiday party that networks.

This week I heard three stories that happened to my friends or colleagues that just reinforce these lessons that these "busy" times can be the most opportune times.

  1. Out of desperation, a newly homeless person seeking shelter, randomly contacted my office and talked to a colleague. We referred this person to an affordable housing provider, knowing that all of the shelters were full. We were called right back and a spot had miraculously opened up at that moment and the family will have a roof over their heads.
  2. A close friend and I lunched this week to celebrate our belated birthdays and she informed me that she had applied for a job with a well known non-profit. The day before I met the CEO of this organization and sat across from him at a meeting. I volunteered to e-mail him on her behalf the next day. He quickly responded and assured me that my friend would get a close look.
  3. Another associate of mine was helping start a new non-profit to stop the trafficking of children in the US. They held a small fundraiser which happened to be organized by several devout Catholics. An assistant to a billionaire was one of these Catholic organizers, and convinced his boss to attend. Long story short, the fundraiser was a huge success, raising $95,000 and engaging new people in their cause. At the end of the event the billionaire stood up and announced a gift of $1.5 million!
  4. 

Serendipity is the product of connecting, of cajoling others, of making calls, of reaching out. It never happens when you sit back and wait for your lucky moment. It never occurs by hoping that something good is going to take place without any effort.

This is the best time to find a job, make new friends, and strengthen your network. Why?! Because the holidays are busy but connecting is natural and expected. Many people mistakenly think they should wait until after the holidays, so there is a distinct competitive advantage during this season.

We can easily succumb to being "busy and stressed out" and miss our chances.

The holidays are just the best time to follow your heart, to help others, and show your appreciation. By doing this, serendipity and opportunity will be sliding your chimney.

Make something happen!

Thanks for reading. John

  


Holiday Cards or House of Cards

Tis the season when we get filled with both the joy and burdened with the habits of the holidays. You know what I mean. The fun and chore of giving and getting. One of the most interesting parts of the season, at least for me, is the exchange of holiday cards. And here we often go into pure robotic mode. J0401611

Some anal maniacs have been sending out cards already. I got one before Thanksgiving! The card was unsigned, no note. They planned early but did not have time to personalize it. Why send it? I guess to check it off the long list of holiday tasks.

Many people have heard of the BYU professor who sent randomly chosen people from the phone book holiday cards. The next year close to half sent him cards! Robert Cialdini, the former Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University used to tell this story. I followed up with him on several occasions and had the pleasure of hearing him speak many times. He later sent me a Xmas card! He taught me many things, but mostly the power and importance of reciprocity. That's what the BYU professor proved, that the trigger of mutual obligation can provoke a pavlovian response to a stranger who sends us a card! Yikes.

We decide to take on the hassle and expense of sending a card to friends and love ones. (that is if we really review the list to see if they are in fact still our friends) We may even use this opportunity to send a photo or two with a little newsletter on the happenings of the family unit because we have not had time to update them during our busy busy year.

Here are some basic principles and opportunities created by the holiday card exchange:

  1. If you are going to send a card, please sign it! If we are merely sending out an impersonal mass mailing, then why do it. Email it. It's not the thought that counts, it's being thoughtful.
  2. Make sure you update and cull your list. Only send to people that matter to you. Exchanging a piece of paper and a stamp with people you do not care about will never matter. If you do not remember the person on your list, you may be better off opening up your local telephone directory! :)
  3. If you send a newsletter, please make it readable and brief. For a long time I wrote the anti-holiday family newsletter in protest. Instead of the typical brag sheet of happy faces and perfect family stories, I revealed the truth accompanied by an embarrassing photo of the family--like this one. SunflowerSadly, to me, this newsletter and photos were banned by an angry mob with whom I co-habitate.
  4. Add card recipients on the fly to connect with new people you have met or reconnected with.
  5. Keep track of your list. As you add recipients, figure out a system that works for you. Fyi--no list, no network!

Thinking and acting green is also urged. But there is still something about a personal note, card, photo and maybe newsletter that is lost in the cyber-world we live in. Consider the pleasure you get when someone actually puts pen to paper and says something real! That's my point if you are not going to personalize it and put your John Hancock on it--walk away from the cards!

In any event, the holidays, despite the craziness are a wonderful time to reconnect with people. People you know well, people you just met. It is a time to express our appreciation for one another personally. Thankfully, everyone, well most everyone, understands that the gift giving thing is less this year. So your time, your personal effort to actually talk is valued and valuable.

Please do not say that you understand this, "but the holidays are too busy--I will make those connections next year." If so, keep that promise! Otherwise, it usually goes on the Himalayan size pile of intentions and to-dos that we tend to ignore.

Like passing out business cards you have to be thoughtful and intentional. Like all networking, how do we make the connection meaningful for me and thee? Otherwise we are building a cardboard network and a house of cards.

Cheers! Thanks for reading. John