Good Will Wednesday – The Middle

The weeks have flown by since I started this habit! As always lets start with the stats.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – Volunteered at the RW Food Shelf
  • DONE – 3 online volunteer opportunities found
  • DONE – 1/1 documentary watched on philanthropy
  • DONE – 3/3 TED Talks watched on philanthropy
  • 32/66 days of random acts of kindness
  • 0/2 books read on philanthropy
  • Find volunteer opportunities in the RW art community
  • Find a volunteer opportunity with the Project Management Institute
  • Complete the Headspace Gratitude pack
  • Tracking my random acts of kindness on Twitter
  • 5/10 weekly posts on my progress

Grade: A

Lessons Learned: I realized I was over complicating this habit. My friend reminded me that smiling at strangers is an act of kindness. Not everything needs to be a real production.

I look forward to spreading the joy. Please share your favorite random act of kindness in the comments!

TED Talks on Generosity

On Generosity is a curated TED playlist. These 7 talks provide 1.5 hours of content, and explore different aspects of philanthropy.

“…stop thinking about which product to buy for yourself and try giving some of it to other people

How to buy happiness – Michael Norton

In most of the world there is a positive correlation between donations and happiness. Norton demonstrates that even trivial donations improve our happiness levels.  In life, leisure, and the professional arena prosocial behavior provides positive returns.

He highlights the Donors Choose site as a place to focus your giving, and I am excited to donate in the future.

“…set a higher bar for how we help individual families improve their lives.”

Should you donate differently – Joy Sun

I found Sun’s talk particularly interesting because she confronts some long held assumptions about aide head on. Not all people in poverty are in that situation because of their poor choices and they don’t always need third party intervention to improve their lives. She discusses the idea of unconditional cash transfers as a model for delivering aid.

Sun sites studies that show across the board cash transfers are used to improve the the lives of people in the lowest levels of poverty. Give Directly allows you to provide cash transfers efficiently and free of corruption.

“Philanthropy is the market for love.”

The way we think about charity is dead wrong – Dan Pallotta

This is my favorite talk because it made me see the non-profit sector in new light. Why should we have a different play book for the profit sector when we can all agree that non-profit causes should also enjoy the benefits of scale.

Pallotta focuses on the limitations we put on compensation, marketing, risk tolerance, time, and funding in the non-profit sector. We are asking the wrong questions when it comes to the success of a non-profit and are conflating morality and frugality. The goal should be solving problems, not keeping overhead low.

I hope you will give these video a view, and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Movie Madness: Billions in Change


This documentary focuses on how Manoj Bhargava, the creator of 5-hour Energy, is using 90% of his wealth to help change the world.

Billions in Change is a 40 minute movie that focuses on the work of Stage 2 Innovations. They are trying to dramatically improve the world’s access to sustainable energy, clean water, and health care. It is a fascinating overview of their most promising products and general ideas for implementation.

It’s short, sweet, and inspirational. Manoj sums it up nicely at the end, “if you’re given more, more is expected from you.” If only there were more people in the world concerned about lessening the suffering of other.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially since you can watch it for free online.

Please share any philanthropy movie recommendations you have in the comments below. I’d love to take in some more films.