Ajay Dahiya, the Executive Director of The Pollination Project, has submitted a wonderful post on how giving every day changes the world. The Pollination Project is not new to the idea of supporting change makers and giving. They are experts in giving every day through their organization and network of funders. They also know there are many ways to approach changing the world as seen by the people and organizations they choose to fund. The common denominator is supporting grass roots organizations who give back as part of their mission. It is their belief that uplifting and empowering individuals at the grassroots-level is a particularly potent way to achieve real and long-lasting change. Thank you Ajay for your insight, shared experience and proof that giving every day does change the world.
The sacred art of giving. “So easy a 3-year-old can do it!” says the 365Give homepage. Not just easy, but scientifically proven to make you happier. Why, then, aren’t we all doing it–all of the time?
Giving, as it turns out, takes practice. Will Durant, in paraphrasing Aristotle, said, “You are what you repeatedly do.” Not that you become good at what you repeatedly do, but you actually are what you repeatedly do. You embody what you consciously choose to do every day on a consistent and intentional basis. It is said that practice makes perfect. But what if we acknowledged that practice doesn’t only make perfect, but practice actually unlocks who we truly are?
After all, our thoughts inform our actions, our actions guide our behaviors, and our behaviors define our character. So what about when it comes to principles that are the foundation to the way we lead our lives? Principles that are inherent within each of us, like compassion, kindness, goodness, and generosity? We don’t often think about regularly practicing those, choosing instead to place value on that which is more tangible.
Yet practicing these principles is exactly what we all need. Without daily practice of these principles, our ability to engage with them becomes rusty and unfamiliar, like trying to play a violin for the first time in years–we know how it should work, but our notes are at best discordant and unrefined.
Becoming a person of compassion, kindness, and generosity, then, means that we have to practice acts of compassion, kindness, and generosity–just like if you want to become an expert violinist, you have to practice day in and day out.
Here at The Pollination Project, we believe that everyone is extraordinary. Everyone has their own unique gifts to offer in building a world that holds more compassion, goodness, and kindness. Our method is centered in recognizing that potential and helping to unleash it in everyone we encounter. We do this by committing to a daily giving practice: we award at least one $1,000 micro-grant to committed, compassionate individuals 365 days a year, every year.
Through this practice, we have seen tremendous impact. With just $1,000, grantees like Edith Mborate, Ijeoma Ugwudi, and Toti Jean Marc Yale, have educated 4,000 young people about teenage pregnancy and contraception in Ghana; screened and treated 350 patients for diabetes in Nigeria; and taught 100 students about why animals must be protected on the Ivory Coast, respectively. This is just a handful of the more than 4,000 projects in 114 countries we have supported over the years.
As successful as our grantees have been, however, we’ve found that the change these individuals wish to see in the world is not just about the money they were awarded. No, it’s about much more than that. It’s about the actual act of giving that these individuals experience every day in their efforts to serve their communities. By living in the act of giving every day, by being of service, our grantees themselves have changed–they’ve become kinder, more tolerant, and more creative.
We at The Pollination Project have changed, too. We are constantly inspired by our grantees and seek to exemplify their compassion and resilience in our own lives and in our interactions with each other. We go out of our way to appreciate each other, listen to each other, and practice kindness even when we may not initially understand a colleague’s intention.
We have found, over time, that Aristotle’s idea was right: that by repeatedly acting in compassionate, kind, and generous ways, we become compassionate, kind, and generous–and that by changing ourselves, we can change the world.
The Pollination Project first funded 365Give in 2014 and continues to support their wonderful endeavors to change the world one person and one give at a time.