Why It’s Important to ‘Pay It Forward’
Many people want to be a part of something that does good in the world and makes a real difference in people’s lives. Many years ago, as I pondered my career choice, I was drawn to the nonprofit arena for the previous reasons mentioned. I always felt a lot better if I could give instead of receive. I had a deep desire to pay things forward as my personal philosophical basis.
What is the concept of Pay It Forward? The concept is old, but received significant popularization from Catherine Ryan Hyde’s 1999 novel and movie, “Pay It Forward.”
In the book and movie, the concept is described as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed that one receives. Such good deeds should accomplish things that the other person cannot accomplish on their own. In this way, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society at a ratio of three to one, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place.
According to Breast Cancer Charities of America, what goes around comes around. Doing good does have health benefits, including reduced stress and depression and improves self-esteem. Ten examples of paying it forward include simple acts like holding the door/elevator for others, create a Facebook fundraiser, donate unused extras, run for a cause; do the dishes and make the bed, treat someone while you treat yourself, volunteer, pick up trash, host a drive and smile and give a compliment.
There is a Pay It Forward Day. This day is a worldwide celebration of kindness that takes place every year on April 28. It is not associated with any organization or foundation. The event took inspiration from Hyde’s book and Blake Beattie’s initial Pay It Forward Day in 2007. It started in Australia and has spread to more than 85 countries. It only lasts 24 hours, but inspires communities to promote kindness acts throughout the year.
On Pay It Forward Day, between one and three good deeds for others are performed without asking for anything in return. Recipients of kindness are instructed to pay it forward to someone else in need. Some examples of what is done that day include paying for the meal in the car behind you; visiting a neighbor and providing assistance to them; donating money to a favorite charity; telling the manager of a store how great the employee was that waited on you; giving a homeless person food vouchers; washing a car or cut a lawn for your neighbor; thanking an employee in your office for help; being a mentor for someone who needs support; and doing some work for a client that cannot afford your services free of charge.
Jerico Alicante notes to derive genuine pleasure from generosity, one needs to be properly motivated. Most of us are delighted to receive a gift from a giver who is motivated by love and passion, rather than a sense of duty or obligation. The power of giving is in its selflessness. Giving for the right reason has dramatic impact. To influence philanthropy, others should give through time, talent and treasure.
My first blog post with NonProfit PRO, titled “Pay It Forward,” was published on March 1, 2013. Having written articles with various publications since 1979, I felt compelled to write this particular blog post on an ongoing basis as a way to share my time, talent and experiences with others by providing ideas and concepts based upon my career in the nonprofit profession. What triggered this particular blog post was the fact that I was sitting in church recently, and the theme from the pulpit was “pay it forward.”
All of us should constantly provide acts of kindness and share the concept of pay it forward with others. The look on an individual's face when given something unexpected is priceless. My prayer is that it will be passed on. On at least three occasions, I was approached at a gas pump by someone asking for money for fuel to get to where they are going. One time I gave someone $40. Another time I pumped the gas myself on my credit card for their benefit. In every case, I asked them for one return favor. Please do the same for someone else.
I hope this blog post moves someone to promote at least one act of kindness today to help someone else. Like links on a chain, nothing is stronger and lasts longer than goodness and compassion. We need more of it in this world, every day, not just on April 28. At the end of the day, if you are a true nonprofit professional, isn’t it always about paying it forward?
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.