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

by jeffhilimire 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.

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