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Giving Is The New Currency

An excerpt from the Epic founder’s new book describes how to revolutionise the way we give.

Alexandre Mars, founder of NGO EPIC

The search for new avenues of philanthropy brought us to explore workplace giving through painless payroll deductions — such as a 401(k) for donating to nonprofits that employers can match. It brought me to examine the possibilities at cashiers and checkout counters where a few cents every now and then — always optional, but always an option — could create a tangible social impact when placed in the right hands. We need to make it possible for every sector — from finance to retail — to embrace giving through approaches that fit the way they make money. By bringing together pledges and initiatives tailored for them, we can convince them to join us in this new giving journey.

And it works. Or, more accurately, it is beginning to work. In companies that promote payroll giving, employees sign up in great numbers. At Dior, about a quarter of employees now give every month, and the company aims to reach 50 percent by the end of the year. While rolling out these solutions at L’Oréal and Coca-Cola, we’ve seen the same mind-set developing: simple, painless solutions with a tangible impact on the lives of others will make people more inclined to give.

Entrepreneurs are also rallying to sign pledges: from veterans of Silicon Valley such as Evernote’s Phil Libin, to newcomers such as Boxed’s Chieh Huang, businessmen who should just be preoccupied with their bottom line are making sure their practices are socially responsible.

With technology, we can change the experience of giving and achieve these goals. I grew up in a world where what connected donors to charities were dimes that went into a donation box on the counter and annual mailings brought by USPS from institutional charities with a few facts and a request for a check. A world where, if you were lucky, you could use Dad’s PC in the basement and a mailed-in AOL CD to dial up and browse a few pages on Netscape until your mom had to use the phone. Today, I can video chat with my family in Brooklyn while visiting an NGO in Kampala on a phone not much heavier than a bag of Skittles.

Technology is slowly making its way into the philanthropic sector. Facebook and Google have both started allowing users to request donations for causes they care about from friends. Websites such as GoFundMe allow people and organisations to reach interested donors directly. These organisations prove that technology can make philanthropy more accessible and effective. Now we need to expand the reach of these tools. That is the only way to achieve systemic change. If we all work, each in their own way, to their own extent, to open ourselves up to others and share our time, money, and skills, we can build a more just and encouraging world.

The momentum is growing. It is emerging in a world where purpose is the new currency, where we measure the value of our deeds by their social impact. That world is our new hope.

From GIVING: Purpose is the New Currency. Copyright © 2018 by Alexandre Mars. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.