When most people think of “micro-giving” they think of sites like Kiva, DonorsChoose or GlobalGiving that allow your small donation to make a direct, personal impact… but what if the “micro-giving” concept was applied to random acts of kindness? That’s the principle behind ItStartsWith.Us, a project created by Nate St. Pierre (though, Nate thinks they shouldn’t be “random acts of kindness” but “directed acts of kindness”).
The idea is simple. Sign up for a mailing list and each week you get sent a mission. One week the mission was the $2 challenge. Subscribers were encouraged to spend $2 in a way that would make a positive impact on someone else’s life. For one person, this was helping a mom out at the grocery store who was a couple of dollars short on her bill. Other examples including paying someone’s bridge toll and buying a kid a set of headphones on a flight.
Other missions have involved helping out a stranger, giving something you owned to a friend, finding a senior citizen and spending some quality time with them, and handwriting a note to someone to let them know they were “doing it right.”
Nate says that one of the main reasons the concept works is because people know that they are part of a team and that others are out there doing the same thing. The ideas are quick, easy and fun and people are encouraged to tweet about them or report back to Nate with the results of what they did for the week.
Video plays an important part in what Nate is doing with ItStartsWIth.Us. At least once a week, he records a video for the website and he encourages members to record videos to report on their mission. To Nate, videos allow the website members to realize that they are part of a team, and that he is just a regular guy making this all happen.
In addition to the weekly missions, Nate has started a side project called the “Love Bomb” (I love this idea). Each week, someone from the ItStartsWith.Us community nominates someone outside the community going through a rough time — they may have just been diagnosed with cancer, lost their job, or going through a bad breakup. The Love Squad “attacks” that person’s blog (or email box) by sending positive comments at a specific time (usually on Thursday mornings). The person is flooded with positive comments.
Nate is working to grow the ItStartsWith.Us community and is currently working with several companies on how they can implement the weekly mission challenge as a staff bonding tool. The companies can tailor the missions he sends to them to make the most impact in their communities, and once a quarter all of the companies involved will participate in a coordinated mission with the rest of the ItStartsWith.Us members.
To learn more, visit the ItStartsWIth.Us website.
photo credit: Nate St. Pierre, ItStartsWith.Us
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