In 2007, Brian received an email from his roommate, Joe. The two were young designers living in San Francisco and trying to make rent. There was a big conference for designers coming into town, and Joe knew there would be a shortage of hotel rooms. His idea was to buy three air mattresses, put them up in their loft, offer breakfast and free wifi and let designers attending the conference stay with them for a small nightly fee. Twelve years later, Airbnb is a $25 billion company.
Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky defined the lowest abstraction (the need for rent money and the need for places to stay), latent energy was discovered, and once unleashed, abundance resulted.
What does this have to do with generosity? It occurs to me that we need to find a way to release the latent energy trapped inside of each one of us to be generous. We are hard-wired to simply contribute to the well-being of another. We often think we are helping the most when we can write a check bigger than last year. What if we helped the least and acted on this hardwiring of contributing to the well-being of another? Spend yourself on others before spending your money on others.
So, if you serve a nonprofit board or staff a social service organization let’s make it easy for our donors to contribute….to spend themselves before asking them to write a check. Let’s help them discover what and who they care about and what they are “for.” Maybe then generosity’s latent energy can be released.