World Wonder

Inspiring Global Citizenship

What’s Your Cause?

on November 21, 2014
Hands holding felt heart

What are you most passionate about?

‘Tis the season of giving! The season of being thankful! I often ask the question, how can we embrace this feeling throughout the season without getting completely overwhelmed by the shopping frenzy and holiday madness that seems to creep into many of our lives? No matter how hard I try to focus on what this season is supposed to be about, I often find myself getting anxious and stressed and losing site of the true holiday spirit.

One possible coping mechanism is to think about what you are most passionate about. Is it your family? Children’s rights? Literacy? The environment? Global peace? The arts? Technology access? Are your passions too many to list? Recently, I was inspired by a local school in East Palo Alto that has declared the month of March as their give-back-month. Every March the students pick a cause to support and they basically collect pennies and other change from students and staff. This year they raised $10,000, including some donations from the local community. My point being that it doesn’t take much to make a big impact and why not start now? I’m inspired to start this tradition at my daughter’s school as a way to involve students in active philanthropy and community service. I want to challenge you to take on the tradition of a give-back-month, involve your school or neighborhood, and think about the many ways that you and your family can give back.

The other thing that struck me is what research continues to show us.  That the act of giving is good, actually great for your overall well-being. The act of giving to others whether it be time, money or other resources can provide a very strong connection to your community and a purpose in this big, complex world. As reported in Scientific American, “In one study subjects were given the choice to receive a very tangible material benefit to themselves—up to $128—or to donate money to a range of charities. Each charitable donation would decrease their own monetary endowment, while each choice that focused on their monetary interest would maintain their earnings. Not only did the researchers find that all participants consistently chose to engage in costly donations, anonymously giving up an average of 40% of their endowment (around $51) for charity, but they also discovered surprising differences in neural activity for decisions that involved donating money versus receiving money. Specifically, while monetary rewards activated the mesolimibic reward system, including the dorsal and ventral striatum and the ventral tegmental area—as would be expected of something that gives us positive reward—when people donated money to a charity, the same network showed even greater activity—and the activity spread to the subgenual area (implicated in social attachment), which had remained inactive in the pure monetary reward choices. While we may not always agree, our brains seem to suggest that the joy of being a gift’s giver may eclipse that of being its recipient.”

It doesn’t take much and the rewards are even greater in terms of your well-being and the positive global impact that you can have. I challenge you and your family to find your cause, commit to it, and create your own give-back-month. Enjoy!

A few of the organizations I’m most passionate about that might spark your interest:

  • Unicef – This year UNICEF is running a great campaign offering you a variety of ways to make a difference for very little money.
  • Kiva – Kiva sends micro loans to organizations around the world including the United States. You can choose the type of business you would like to support and the specific global location.
  • Global Fund for Children – This organization continues to support small non-profit organizations working on a variety of children’s causes. I recently received their annual report and I was extremely inspired by their model of localization by cultivating local expertise through ongoing monetary support and strategic planning.
  • Donors Choose – One of my favorite national organizations that provides a platform for teachers to post projects and solicit donations to support what they want to do in their classrooms. You can track the progress of the project and communicate with the teachers to see how things are going.
  • Global Giving – A fantastic resource for finding organizations that support your passion globally. Find the organizations that most inspire you and give yourself a little dose of feel good this holiday season! I challenge you!

One response to “What’s Your Cause?

  1. kirungi Allen says:

    very inspiring piece. indeed, its more blessed to give than to receive.


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