September 22nd, 2011
September 22nd, 2011
During the years I earned as much as $50,000-$100,000 a year, I gave 25-50% of my annual income. One year I earned a modest $16,000, a drop due to health issues – yet I still gave the same percentage of my income. My giving has now settled at 10-25% though I expect to increase it as my income goes up.
Why is this important to me? Because my giving is very deeply tied to my political activism and my family identity. My career choices and family history have been responsible for building my capacity for compassion of other people – which underlies the values of my life. I learned early on that sharing was the only way to give balance to my life.
Also, after seeing lots of jobless people standing on corners in our Bay Area communities, I decided I didn’t want to sit around and wait for someone else to help. So I made it my commitment to pass out work gloves to the day laborers waiting to be hired. I buy gloves, hats, make sandwiches, and/or buy coffee for 30-100 workers at a time. When I have a little bit extra in my wallet, I put a $5 bill inside each pair of gloves. One man cried when he saw the money, saying, “Thank you. I haven’t eaten in two days.”
My project may not be upstream-giving but it does change a single moment in someone’s life – which can give way to a larger shift of destiny. After all, changing one’s destiny on an empty stomach is a hard thing to do.
I think one of the most persistent challenges I feel as a donor of color is that I can be overlooked and stereotyped as only the recipient of someone else’s generosity when in fact there is plenty of philanthropic wealth going on in my own Native American and Latino communities. For decades, I’ve been the invisible donor to White-led nonprofit organizations or for White-identified social movements. I’d love one day to be mistaken as the benefactor, as the major donor that I am. Then I’d know we’d finally reached a place of social change.
| West | 40 to 59 Years Old | Under $1M | at least 50% | Profession |
| Social Justice | Fairness |
Posted on September 23rd by MfromCAL
Five Stars for Inspiration
I had a thought after sitting in on Pilar's incredible Bolder Giving call yesterday. She spoke about the power of even small gifts (e.g., her giving out work gloves to day laborers). Inspired, I went out and did some gloves gifts today--it felt great, and the workers really appreciated it.
Which got me to thinking...for every visitor to your site with abundant resources, there are probably 10-20 with more modest means. What about adding a little section to your site entitled: "25 ways to have an impact for less than $25" or "50 ways for less than $50"? You already have three ideas to kick it off from Pilar: giving out gloves, handing out small water bottles and paying the bill of the next person in line with you at, say, a drugstore.
You could bulletin all your members and ask them to submit their own personal "power of small giving" examples to build up this list. Anyway, I know you don't have unlimited time to consider every idea. But this may be a way to help people come up with their own ways to give, dramatize how even the smallest gesture can have a huge impact and show that everyone can be a philanthropist.
Posted on August 10th by Anonymous
Each of us has something to share
Thank you for sharing your story, Pilar. I can especially relate to your last paragraph, which reminded me of a personal experience. A woman made a donation and then personally handed me "a bit extra". I encouraged her to donate the "extra" as well, but she insisted that I must keep it for myself. When I informed the woman that, as a fellow donor, I completely understood her desire to give, her face contorted in display of confusion. She had assumed that I was a recipient because, as she admitted, I "looked the same" as the recipients (i.e., had the same skin colour). My only hope is that the experience, for all who were present – including me, was an opportunity to explore our own assumptions about who and what “need” looks like and focus on how each of us can share in meeting the needs of others.