Is Giving Good for You?

Whilst many people think they will give out of their surplus once they are content, I believe that giving is a key to reaching that elusive state of contentment.

Charitable Giving in the UK is down 15% or £1.7M in absolute terms says the UK Giving 2012 Report. As a result of this shocking statistic the big charity umbrella bodies have launched the campaign 'Back Britain's Charities'to try to curb the downward spiral.

I have a lot of respect for these organisations and anyone trying to raise a flag for giving is a friend of mine but I don't think that the government are going to come up with the answers they are looking for.

I believe this campaign is focused in the wrong direction, with only one of its five points looking at how we, the everyday people engage with giving. Their call to action is 'Individuals should support charities by giving as regularly as they can, regardless of how much time or money they are able to give.'

Whilst I believe this to be true I don't think it is nearly a sexy enough message, I don't think that a moral stand is enough to get more people excited about giving.

Last night visiting a very old and dear school friend I got into a conversation with her boyfriend Jon about giving. He said "I think giving is easy enough to do, I just don't want to do it" he went on to say "I feel that doing my job as a physio is enough of a contribution."

This is a common view and one that I completely understand given the limited and relatively boring options currently available to him. He was adamant that giving wasn't for him until I explained about a platform called The Burner where he can set personal running goals using RunKeeper and get his mates to bet against him completing his goal with all the money going to the bet winners favourite charity. He immediately changed his position and agreed he would do it!

One opinion changed! Hurrah :) He was converted through fun, innovative thinking that capitalises on his natural alpha male bloke-ish behaviour of making bets with mates! Maybe if we can get the message out to a few more people like Jon we might change some things!

It is not like we are disengaging from society completely. The American Idol finals earn more than 100 million votes, Facebook have hit a billion users and Google have shipped 136 million Android handsets in Q3 2012. These guys are not struggling to engage with us at all!

I think they know something about how to create an emotionally engaging experience, putting their customers needs and wants first and in American Idol's case helping their viewers to feel that their action has an impact on the outcome.

To get this generation giving we need to encourage innovative, creative solutions to engage people in their everyday lives, stuff that is fun, emotionally engaging, relational and connected closely to the cause.

Here is a TEDxChisinau talk I did recently where I attempt to unpack the kind of ideas I believe do have the power to turn the tides on giving.

In case you are wondering, Chisinau is in Moldova, Moldova is in Eastern Europe and I didn't know where it was either until I went there.

Government lobbying will not provide the categoric shift in thinking and action we so desperately require, but thinking differently and learning from other successful organisations might.

Whilst many people think they will give out of their surplus once they are content, I believe that giving is a key to reaching that elusive state of contentment.

Pound for pound, one of the most solid investments in personal and therefore Gross National Happiness available to us.

I back Britain's people to stop the rot if the leaders in the sector can show us how giving can be good for us and a great laugh too! :-)

I am keen to know what you think....