With just 15 days left until Christmas, you might be rushing to finish your gift shopping for friends and family. But the giving shouldn’t end there.
Since I started yoga in earnest a few months ago, I’ve gravitated toward one teacher as a mentor. I always walk away from her class with a story or lesson that’s touched me in the place I need it most. Earlier this week she read a passage from Jack Kornfield’s A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. Kornfield describes the three traditionally recognized types of generosity: tentative giving, brotherly giving and royal giving.
Turns out, in tech, we have givers of all stripes.
Joy in helping others
Tentative giving comes from a gradual understanding that there’s happiness to gain from helping others. There’s usually an initial hesitation, a fear that what’s given away might be needed later, but once we realize it’s safe and it’s time, great satisfaction awaits in helping others.
A lovely example is the Giving Pledge, an effort to encourage philanthropic giving by wealthy entrepreneurs started by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. In a recent interview, Bill Gates said, “People are super nice to us, but there is a certain awkwardness because it’s a big decision.” And yet more than 50 donors ─ Mark Zuckerberg and Carl Ichan are among 16 billionaires who signed their name to the pledge this week ─ have committed to donate a majority of their fortunes to philanthropic causes.
Give and let give
In brotherly giving, the attitude is “I have this, so let’s share it.”
The story of the past few weeks undoubtedly has been the WikiLeaks saga and its far-reaching implications for Internet freedom and global diplomacy. The unfolding story is delicate and complicated, yet it’s easy to see the spirit of support and giving come to life in the hacker community’s protective retaliation against WikiLeaks’s challengers. Here you have Internet freedom activists donating the skills they have and the freedoms they practice to building awareness for a cause.
When giving is win-win
The last form of giving happens when the well-being of others is so highly valued that one gives freely and frequently.
Gap is a great example of a company that has made a business out of giving back. For instance, the clothing retailer maintains a green business ethic, but rather than using it as a sales pitch to attract the eco-conscious shopper, the company encourages consumers to give to green causes with shopper discounts.
In October, Gap held its second national denim drive, with used denim slated for conversion into insulation donated to communities in need. For every pair of old jeans a shopper turned in, she received 30 percent off the purchase of new Gap jeans, or 40 percent off if she bought them through Gap’s Facebook fan page.
In November, Gap held its Give & Get initiative, where shoppers chose a charity to receive 5 percent of the sale while the shopper got 30 percent off his or her haul. And during the holidays, Gap’s getting creative with social media, giving big discounts to Foursquare users who check-in.
Of course, I’m not blind to the fact that companies are in business to make money. But even if they get something out of it, there’s always something to gain in generosity. That warm fuzzy feeling is all yours, you know.