Call To Action: Guerilla Philanthropy

Call To Action: Guerilla Philanthropy

Follow a new kind of giving back, anonymously doing something for random people in your community just because.

When everyone seems to be scraping by, it can be difficult to feel like being charitable. Lines like “selflessness”, or “doing something for the common good” can sound naïve, or even ignorant. However, it might just be what everyone needs to hear. So it went in a little locally-owned coffee shop in Bluffton, South Carolina, called the Corner Perk. Two years ago a woman walked in and placed a $100 bill on the counter and told the barrista to use it to pay for everyone’s drinks until the money ran out. Over the last two years the gesture has caught on, and now the coffee shop has become somewhat of a local bastion for paying it forward.

This got me thinking about the different ways in which we, as individuals, can “pay it forward” (to borrow a rather cliché ten-year old term) in our own communities in ways that are tangible and visible to us and the people we regularly interact with. We’ve put such a premium in broad, large-scale charity (not that it’s a bad thing) that we sometimes neglect the community right outside of our window. With the economy being what it is, there’s plenty of homegrown suffering. That’s why, in a parody of what has come to be called “venture philanthropy”, I propose we start a little “guerilla philanthropy” right here in our own communities. Much like the anonymous good Samaritan that left $100 spot on a coffee-shop counter, in what ways can we pay forward a little generosity in our own communities? Beginning with the case of Central Perk, here are a few ideas.

Find a local business that seems to cater to good people, has a good standing in the community, and drop a little extra money in the “penny” plate. It doesn’t have to be a hundred dollars, but even $10 is likely to get some people’s attention.

Talk to schools, many of who have community-service hour requirements for high school students, about organizing some community service projects. It could be as simple as randomly shoveling driveways or doing yard-work in the neighborhood.

Buy groceries and leave them on random doorsteps. I know this may have a creeper factor, but you never know who’s having trouble footing that grocery bill each month, and would love to find an extra loaf of bread and gallon of milk sitting on their doorstep some morning.

I’m sure, with a little forethought, you could think of plenty of other ways that you particular community could use a little “guerilla philanthropy”. Organizing a large enough group in a given community to pay it forward, even (especially) anonymously, could have a huge impact on the climate and morale of your neighborhood, community, and city.