Give What You Know: Creative Microphilanthropy Advice for our #30DaysofGOOD Challenge

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Give What You Know: Creative Microphilanthropy Advice for our #30DaysofGOOD Challenge Give What You Know: Creative Microphilanthropy Advice for our #30DaysofGOOD Challenge
Culture

Give What You Know: Creative Microphilanthropy Advice for our #30DaysofGOOD Challenge

by Courtney Martin

December 17, 2011

Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for December? Creative microphilanthropy.

It’s easy to read the day’s news, much of it very depressing, and conclude that the best approach to philanthropy is to ask: What are the worst problems of our time, and how can I donate my money toward solving them?

As logical and tempting as that may be, this month try something different. Rather than dwelling on the world’s ills, start by asking a question that begins with your own soul. Civil rights leader and theologian Howard Thurman recommends: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Many of the “secret agents” of The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy have drawn inspiration from the things they really love doing.

Take Ethan. Like many a very funny person, Ethan’s had his share of sad times. In college, he started going to therapy and discovered that it was a great way to both deal with his depression and understand the comedic potential of the human psyche. He’s been documenting the latter in his hilarious cartoon, Murray the Nut, for awhile, but he ingeniously took it to the next level when he decided to serve the world as a creative microphilanthropist.

He drew a cartoon about why therapy is necessary, with a link to a super simple informational site about how to find a therapist in your local area. Then he bought online advertising space on gaming sites and other places where he thought there might be some folks lurking who hadn’t been exposed to therapy’s healing potential before, and he ran the cartoon.

There were click-thrus in the thousands. Who knows what kind of psychic relief Ethan’s small act of funny philanthropy might have set off?

And lest you think the thing that makes you come alive has to be professional, think again. Dena is a dedicated educator, committed to creating better, healthier schools for some of America’s poorest students in the Bronx—where she was born and raised—but she’s also a badass baker. She decided to use her money to buy the supplies for a bread-baking party, then invited over some of her favorite people and offered to teach them how to make their very own doughy goodness from scratch.

She was inspired by the idea that food brings people together, that it is a form of love and communion, summed up nicely in this quotation from feminist science fiction novelist Ursula K. LeGuin: “Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.”

So what can you remake? Whatmakes you come alive? Creative microphilanthropy is all about assessing what you've already got, and figuring out how to leverage it for good laughs, great eats, and maximum generosity.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user Wonderlane.

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