About a year and a half ago I did something that some would say was outrageous.
I made a pledge to give away $1K a day to an individual social change-maker, every day, for the rest of my life. This wasn't an easy thing to pledge -- it represented a meaningful amount of money to me and my family -- an amount that stretched me to the edge of my fear. But I knew that life was demanding I do it.
My initial goal was to feel more connected to and engaged in what I was giving to. Yet, as anyone who has ever engaged in a daily practice would tell you -- doing something meaningful and perhaps slightly uncomfortable -- every day -- whether it is exercising, or meditating, or writing in a journal -- changes you from the inside out.
Important people in philanthropy challenged the idea that one could make meaningful impact by giving away money in small amounts. I was told the only way to make change was to focus on one issue where I wanted to "move the needle" and then give large amounts to established groups within that issue area.
But the kind of change I want to make is not about moving the needle on one issue. The most important change -- the change that catalyzes all other meaningful change -- is the transformation of one's own heart. It is the deep understanding of the sacredness of our existence on this planet at this time. We must do more than possess the knowledge that all of life is intertwined: but we must back up that knowledge with practice and action.
In 2012, together with a great team, I created the Pollination Project to seed social change projects. In our first year, the Pollination Project team reviewed over 1,500 applications and provided seed funding for 365 people and their projects. For many people we funded, it was the first grant they've ever received.
"[You] gave me "permission" to be bold, and put it "out there" what I had been thinking about for soooo long!" said Elle Morgan, grantee and founder of The Elements of New Life Scripts, "It validated my vision. It was a vision that had not yet even begun flourishing, and still, The Pollination Project said, "Yes! this is worthy!", It built my confidence. "I can do this!"
We gave seed funding to emerging leaders as young as 11 years old. We've funded individuals in 35 different countries. We funded superstars who went on to gain national and international recognition for their work. All of our grantees put their stake in the ground to make change in their communities and across the planet. There have been so many ripples of goodness created because of them.
You can imagine that being part of these stories, every single day, is like taking a bath in the goodness of humanity. A daily giving practice has made me ever more hopeful, more alive, and even more committed to using my life to serve.
After a year of a daily generosity practice, I have come to understand that the purpose of my life is to facilitate and quicken a global shift in consciousness -- from the consciousness of fear and greed, to the consciousness of compassion, kindness and love. Being called into this purpose has resulted in more generosity, more risks worth taking, and less fear. I am surrounded every day by people who's lives are an expression of love. Daily giving has brought me closer to my family and to my community. It has enriched and blessed my life. The initial impulse to be more connected to and engaged in my giving -- has resulted in me receiving so much more than I've given.
If YOU were going to give away money every day -- what do you think you'd receive?
To make it easier to answer this question: the Pollination Project team is launching a Daily Giving Community, where individuals can give $1 or more a day to each of our yet-to-be named 2014 grantees. Please consider participating if you think this kind of practice would enrich your life.
St. Francis of Assisi says, "Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage."
The task ahead of us is likely bigger than any of our lifetimes. But we must start somewhere, and starting in one's own heart is where real and lasting change can take hold.
Thanks to Jamila Banks and the Youth Earth Club for the photo