Why We Give

charity: water
Dec 1, 2014 · 4 min read

We have 10 values at charity: water — practices that define us and qualities we look for in our staff. They range from “no typos” and “value your feedback” to “we don’t pirate software” and “we don’t objectify the poor.”

But the ones that I find most defining of our team are “we’re grateful people” and “we give generously.”

I see it every day: coworkers donating to other charities, staying late to help each other with work or showing up on a Saturday morning to help someone haul a couch to a three-story walk up in Brooklyn.

And we’re lucky. We get to be re-inspired every week by the people who support our organization. We receive piggy banks and tooth fairy money from five year olds who want to help children on the other side of the planet. We see CEOs donating a percentage of their stock to help fund our operations.

We’re absolutely surrounded by generosity.
But that’s not the only reason we choose to give.

Here’s What We Know About Giving:

Everyone has something to give.

Giving doesn’t have to cost you money. There are plenty of other things you can give: time, attention, high fives. Wisdom can be a gift. Conversation can be a gift. A night off from baby-duty can be a gift. A surprise cleaning of the house. A new playlist. A note. A piece of driftwood from a beach on the other side of the world. Anything that might be meaningful or significant to someone else is a gift.

Showing someone that you thought of them can be the greatest gift of all. Never underestimate the power of appreciation.

Giving is good for you.

People who donate their time to help others show greater self-esteem, less depression and less stress. For many people, performing charitable acts, volunteering or writing a check to support a good cause triggers the release of oxytocin into the bloodstream — which reduces anxiety levels and induces feelings of warmth, euphoria and connection to others. Health researcher Stephen G. Post even said, “the impact of giving is just as significant as not smoking and avoiding obesity.” This is science!

The gift is also in the giving.

Even as the gift giver, seeing someone’s reaction to an unexpected gift feels incredible. I bought a soda for our office doorman the other day, and he almost hugged me. A soda! Was that worth $1.49? Absolutely. Imagine that feeling with a bigger gift. Imagine changing someone’s life! Being on the giving end of that situation almost feels as good as being on the receiving end.

Generosity inspires generosity.

Giving rarely stops with the recipient. Studies show that generous behavior inspires observers to behave generously too… toward different people. The ripple effect is huge! Which means that your one gift can influence dozens or hundreds of people that you don’t know or haven’t met.

Three years ago, a nine year old girl named Rachel set out to raise $300 for clean water and inspired 31,997 people.

It’s a chance to be a part of something bigger.

Whether it’s community cleanup or an emergency relief fund, we know that we’re strongest as a group. When we come together, even if our individual contributions are small, our group contribution can be mighty. And we have the power to accomplish anything! The phrase “many hands make light work” is as applicable to doing all of the dishes on Thanksgiving as it is to bringing clean water to everyone in Tigray, Ethiopia.

So, What’s Our Reason?

Yes, we do give because we feel inspired. And yes, we do give because we know the difference that it makes. But we also give because we believe in it. We give because every one of us has been on the receiving end of a gift, and we know that what seems like no-big-deal to one person can mean the world to someone else.

We give because we want to change the way the world feels about giving, and we want to lead by example.

We give more than we feel capable of giving. We give to strangers. We give our time, talent and attention.

We give because we can.

You Can Give Too.

Donate and help bring clean water to people in need — 100% of your donation will be used to fund clean water projects. Or buy a meal for a homeless man. Help dig someone’s car out of the snow. Spend an hour working on a puzzle with your grandmother. Clean the house for your partner. Pay more compliments to the people you love.

It doesn’t matter how or what you give; every gift makes a difference.

charity: water

Stories, thoughts and ideas from the team at charity: water.

charity: water

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We're a nonprofit organization on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every single person on the planet.

charity: water

Stories, thoughts and ideas from the team at charity: water.

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