I spend a lot of time searching for and thinking about people who innovate, create or otherwise engineer extraordinary changes in business. This weekend, I had an opportunity to watch it happen around me, and it’s left me inspired. And the implications this idea has for business are profound.
On Friday, I participated in a Social Media Week panel called Nonprofits Using Social Media to Close Doors for Good with Katya Andresen of Network for Good and Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund. The concept of the panel was developed and introduced by Scott Case of Malaria No More. (Read more about Malaria No More and their ground-breaking Twitter campaign with Ashton Kutcher here.) It was an intimidating panel—these three exceptional people understand modern philanthropy like few people I've met. And the panel itself was a generous act; Scott deftly had us live-brainstorm ideas and solutions for the social entrepreneurs and non-profiters in the audience.
After the panel, Sasha talked with Katya about his truly fascinating Generosity Experiment," in which he said yes to everyone who asked him for help for an entire month.
Based on that conversation—and perhaps the poignant intersection of generosity and need that we experienced in the Social Media Week session—Sasha was inspired to take back Valentine’s Day from the chocolatiers and feed a different hunger.
An hour after he left us, Sasha sent us this email:
I wanted to let you all know first, thanks to a push (shove??) from Katya, I’m going to move forward way too fast with an idea that I’ve been sitting on for awhile: announcing Generosity Day. The plan is to ask people to do a one-day version of my Generosity Experiment…and Katya’s right, there is no better day than Valentine’s Day."
Then, about three hours later, he posted this, and it's worth the read. The money quote:
This Monday, Valentine’s Day, is going to be rebooted as Generosity Day: one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying "Yes." Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection—because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly.
Katya tweeted, then posted her response. Scott committed Malaria No More to the cause. (I promised to pester the FastCompany.com family.) Some 24 hours after their conversation, more than 300 tweets identified #generosityday or referenced the original post—including the New York Times’s Nick Kristof. Bloggers from Fast Company to the HuffingtonPost have signed on.
Says Sasha: "I’m planning to change my post for tomorrow and do a 'blog circle': have all the blogs posting share links to all the other blogs. So if you could, please share the URL’s you are going to use on Monday so I can post and share with everyone."
The opportunity for random acts of generosity is inherently transformational. But I would ask that those of us in business give the Randomness Wheel a little kick in the right direction and extend that spirit of generosity to our bosses, team members, co-workers and fellow elevator commuters. What generous feedback could you give, what care could you take, what project could you champion, what hatchet could you bury that would transform your project, your colleague, your product, your workplace, your customer, the world?
Whether you give or receive a #generosityday act, tweet it—it's easy to do below), blog it, Facebook it, put it on a post-it, whatever.
Find another Twitter widget here.
Find the #generosityday Facebook group here.
How Will You Celebrate Generosity Day?
We want to create a discussion about re-booting Valentine's Day as a day to take up random acts of kindness and all manner of do-gooderism. Contribute by tweeting your answer to how you will celebrate generosity day, or how someone's generosity impacted you. Or ask anyone who tweets for his or her ideas by including their Twitter username in your question.
[Image: Flickr user Sister72]