Halloween and the act of giving

10/31/2007 01:25 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What's the link between Halloween and philanthropy? Well, there is the obvious fact that unlike any other day of the year tonight is the one night that you can knock on your neighbor's door, ask for something for nothing, and expect to get it. There also is (used to be?) the connection between Halloween trick-or-treating and UNICEF - a tradition I grew up on and one I was thrilled to see reborn when my son brought home from school one of those familiar orange penny boxes to carry around with him this evening.

Philanthropy has grown far away from this basic human need - to give when asked. Let me say that again - the basic human need is to give when asked; its not the need to ask. When we think about philanthropy, charity, foundations, the $300bb a year Americans give and the billions more that move from person to person, community to community around the globe, we quickly forget that all that money is the result of innumerable acts of basic humanity.

This year, as we take our kids (or ourselves) from door to door, maybe we can remember the power that comes with giving. Even if it is just a candy bar given to a goblin. Or a penny to UNICEF.