Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The iPhone (R)evolution

Well, it happened.  The iPhone 5 was finally released.  iPhone 4 and 4s users are officially utilizing outdated technology that is only mere months old.  In fact, I heard that the new iPhone 5 is even wired to stand in line for the iPhone 6 when it’s released.  Not true, but funny, right?

Technology follows an evolutionary path.  We have a simple expectation that the next version will be a little bit quicker, better, or smaller than the last.  Somehow, just in my lifetime, we went from kids playing with tin cans connected by long pieces of string to those powered with 1.21 jigawatt flux capacitors…practically.
I guess it’s just the world we live in these days.  Change is our only constant.  Ironic, isn’t it?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the Community Foundation ‘gets’ change.  We are a change agent.  We see donor generosity and passion toward making significant change…Every.  Single.  Week. 
But, the change we see isn’t evolutionary at all.  It’s better.  It’s revolutionary!

I recently had the privilege of speaking at Indiana Wesleyan University’s chapel about giving.  I was excited because there is nothing I love to talk about more.  But, sometimes giving is difficult to define. 

Is giving about money?  Yes, sometimes.  Well, what about time?  Certainly.  Time is a valuable commodity that we can’t replace.  But, what about talent?  You bet.  Someone with the willingness to share their talent may be invaluable to a non-profit with limited help.

All this led me to do a little research on levels of giving.  I wondered if there was any sort of continuum that would show how to start giving if you’re not currently.   Or how to move to a more selfless level of giving no matter what level you might be at right now.

In my research, I did discover 8 levels of giving written nearly 1000 years ago by Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon.  With all due credit to the Rabbi for his original brilliance, my friend Dave Drury and I took some creative privilege with his language and modified this for givers of all varieties.  See what you think:
  • Level 1- The lowest level of Giving = Giving begrudgingly.
  • Level 2- You give less than you should, but you do so cheerfully.
  • Level 3- You give after being solicited.
  • Level 4- You give without being solicited.
  • Level 5- The giver knows the recipient, but recipient does not know the giver.
  • Level 6- The recipient knows the giver, but the giver doesn’t know the recipient.
  • Level 7- The giver gives, but is unaware of the recipient, who, in turn, is unaware of giver.
  • Level 8- The highest level of giving = You give to strengthen the hand of another, so they don’t need help anymore, are fully sustained, and can become a giver to others.

While it’s common to give at various levels, we should strive for the upper tier, for sure.  This kind of giving can have a revolutionary impact on the giver and the receiver.  It’s not that evolutionary change that gets a little bit better each time.  It’s the kind of change that is radical.  It’s what my friend Jack Brady and I call a ‘quadradigm shift’ because it’s twice as good as a paradigm shift.  Giving in this way will fundamentally change the way you think and feel about people, organizations, and change.  It’s like going from that phone made of tin cans and string to the latest and greatest flux capacitor model.

If you’re not donating time, talent, or treasure today, start at Level 1.  It’s okay, we’ve all been there.  Everyone can afford to work out their generosity muscle a little bit more.  It might be out of shape, but it’s not too late to start now.  We can enjoy the iPhone evolution, but let’s be proactive and start our own iGive Revolution.  Folks, it’s time for a giving upgrade.
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