Answering questions from yesterday’s “Pay it forward” post

by Jeff Hilimire on February 11, 2014

Yesterday I wrote a post about helping to fulfill my goal of doing more good in the world by asking people that wanted to meet with me for advice to give an hour of their time to a non-profit or other service-based cause. Specifically, I said:

I will happily meet with you – if I can – but in exchange you agree to spend one hour helping a non-profit (or other related activity). And you agree to share that experience afterwards, either on your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn or other public way.

The post caused some people to congratulate me on the idea, some people to suggest other means of accomplishing my goal and others to express why they thought I was being too pushy with my personal values. I thought a response to some of those comments would be important to further clarify my position. I generalized these questions and took off the names in order to create more of a FAQ.

You should consider asking people to donate money (or an hour of their wages) rather than an hour of time. 

I did think about that but I believe that would have less of a long-term impact. My hope is that by donating time people will experience and understand some of the pain that people are going through and realize that they can help going forward: through time or money or both.

Regarding the homeless, sometimes you should get to know their story first before feeling sorry for them. Maybe spend time talking to them and learning about them. It might turn out that they are lazy and just don’t work hard.

…stepping up on my soapbox…

Yes, its important to talk to homeless people and learn about them. I have done that and intend to continue doing so. But that’s important because they are people and should be treated as people, not as a way to decide if you should feel sorry for them or not. I feel sorry for anyone that lives out on the street or has to beg other people for money.

…stepping down off my soapbox…

You should consider bringing your family to do service work to put more “hours” toward it. 

Yep, we do spend time as a family at the homeless shelter at our church but we need to do much more in this area. It’s definitely something I want to get better about doing.

Are you dead-set on the charity/non-profit being one of your choosing, or can the individual offer their own suggestions for organizations based on their personal passions?

Yep, it can be any non-profit or cause that someone is interested in. I’m certainly happy to suggest ones if need be. But, you do have to post about your experience in some kind of public way (blog, facebook, etc).

You should spend more time “giving” yourself and not ask others to have to do so.

Yes, this is the part that is slightly controversial. Not the part about me helping with service work – I do that and intend to do much more of that. But asking others to do something they aren’t comfortable with or don’t yet understand IS asking a lot. I get that. However, I’m only asking that of people that ask something of me.

Why not kill two birds with one stone and have your meeting with the individual wanting coaching/advice at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or the like WITH you? 

I love this idea. What I also might do is try to get a group of people who have questions/interests and organize something at a shelter. Thanks for the idea!


I already had a young person ask to meet with me yesterday and I passed him the link to the post. He replied saying he had never done any charity work and was excited to have his first experience doing it. Honestly, that alone makes me feel like this was the right decision.

  • Adam Harrell

    Asking for people to be as equally generous of their time as you are of yours seems like an elegant solution and one that I may just steal with attribution :-)

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Do it! Keep me posted if you do…

  • Silvana

    I think it is a great idea. I have worked in non profit before, for many years – money is always a problem and volunteers often come to make themselves feel better – not necessarily understanding the concept or caring for the long term. They just ‘want to do something’. So as nice as it is to have bodies, often had I had money, I (with the organization I worked for) could have actually changed some parts of some people’s lives with more efficacy, than having to train people, show them around, hole their hands. Cynical. Maybe. In the right hands, money works.

  • Drew Hawkins

    I think it’s a great – and totally fair – idea. I hope it spreads.

  • Kendrick Disch

    sounds like a terrific deal to me… I may actually take you up on this at some point soon. Do you know of any non-profits needing pro photography?

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn

    crap, I didn’t even think about giving up my DJ services up like that. Fantastic idea, @kendrickdisch:disqus! @jeffhilimire:disqus, I’d love to do a charity event with you…I can help you Emcee it and DJ it…to help raise awareness/funds/time commitments…I’ll follow up with you offline!

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Thanks Drew, I think its already starting to spread!

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Always! I’ll trade a coffee with you for an hour of pro photography for a non-profit, let’s do it!

  • Adam Harrell

    Sure thing. Actually replied to someone this morning with the request. Will let you know how it goes.

  • Joe Koufman

    Let me know when we are going to volunteer together. I am serious.

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