I was recently inspired by a Courant article, "Giving, But Not Gifts," about how Ray Dalio, a hedge fund exec whose net worth totals about $4 billion, is spending $2 million on an ad campaign to persuade Americans to stop shopping for each other over the holidays, and instead to honor each other with gifts to charity.
"We’re pressed, we’re stressed, and our money is wasted," the ad reads. "Let’s redefine Christmas. By putting more Thanksgiving in it."
Dalio will have an uphill battle to change Americans $100 billion holiday shopping habit, the article says, but he feels that carving out even a few gifts a year will gradually lead to a multiplier effect.
Dalio also makes the point that it’s easier to give than to do all that shopping to find the perfect gift–a hard point to argue.
An inspiring idea. So I thought I’d check around here at The Women’s Foundation to see if this trend has a foothold among our staff, who are surrounded daily with the notion of giving, philanthropy and its power to change lives and communities.
I randomly asked staff to report on how they or their families incorporate giving into the holiday season, and got some very creative ideas for ways to create traditions that don’t revolve around consumerism so much as compassion-ism.
Opa reported that in her family everyone takes one of the gifts they receive (before opening it and finding out what it is) and donates it to a battered women’s shelter.
HyeSook, our child care and early education consultant, reported that she’s working hard to instill the idea of giving for her three-and-a-half year old daughter. She worked with her daughter’s pre-school teacher to develop a gift from the class that would help the children think of less fortunate kids. HyeSook also takes her daughter with her when she volunteers to do cleaning and projects for local shelters. "I think modeling is one of the most powerful teaching strategies," she says.
As for me, my sister works for an international organization that supports children and families in developing nations through monthly sponsorship. A few years ago, my sister gave a sponsorship of a child to my mother, who now, instead of asking for gifts for herself, asks for contributions to projects she’s supporting to make improvements on the child’s home and support sustainable business or employment opportunities for her parents.
And that’s the word on some of the giving that goes on by a random sampling of staff of The Women’s Foundation.
How do you and your family incorporate giving into the holiday season? Drop us a line and let us know. This blog will be on hiatus until later next week while we’ll be out partaking of the festivities, so it’ll be great to send everyone off on a note of inspiring ideas and creative compassion.
In any case, we wish you an inspiring, joyful holiday season!
Still looking for that perfect holiday gift? Know someone who would love to lend her name to work that’s changing the lives of woman and girls in the Washington region? We make it easy.