Though the challenge is officially over, your adventures in creative microphilanthropy don’t have to end here.
You’ve filled near-empty parking meters. You’ve left money on stairwells to reward exercise. Some of you have even given money to hikers to encourage clean parks.
These individual acts of generosity are, in a word, enough. We live in a world where we too often focus exclusively on our own to-do lists and our own financial stability, and little else. So just by breaking out of that box, you accomplished something huge. But you know what might be even better? Basking in the company of others who have done something out of the ordinary too.
That’s what The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy is all about: It’s essentially the GOOD 30-Day Challenge, made into a party. If you liked the little jolt of oxytocin that you got from your one creative act of microphilanthropy this month, imagine hearing 10 or 20 other stories just like yours. Trust us, the love gets pretty palpable.
It's easy to get started. Give $100 each to some friends (we often start with 10), and ask them to give it away in some creative way over the course of a month. At the end of the month, host a party—bars, living rooms, workplaces, even campfires work—and invite everyone to share their experiences. You will notice strange similarities, hear delightful patterns, and be surprised by the ingenuity of your motley group of friends. Or so they tell us in Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Athens, Georgia, where there are local chapters.
If $1,000 feels like a crazy amount of money, consider how much you spent on your last flat-screen television. If it still feels crazy, ask some others join you in donating to the pool. If you convince 10 friends to give away $100, your party is set. We’ve found that the $100 increment is perfect—it’s not enough to feel like a huge burden, but it’s not so little that they can get away with not taking it seriously.
And that’s just one way to collectivize your giving instincts. Check out the One Percent Foundation (named before Occupy redefined the term), which combines many people's small donations, thus increasing the impact of small-scale philanthropists on great nonprofit organizations. Or get involved in Citizen Effect, where you can become a “citizen philanthropist” by picking a cause you care about and leveraging your social network to help people in your own community. Or go to a SPARK party, learn about ways in which grassroots organizations are improving the lives of girls and women around the world, and join this explosive community of philanthropic young professionals.
In other words, though the challenge is officially over, your adventures in creative microphilanthropy don’t have to end here. It’s a new year, after all. Make it a resolution. Make it a ritual. Make it a party. Your 2012 will be better for it.