Jared Ning

The Wei of the Ningja

Exercise Your Goodwill: Create Your Own Spontaneous Shopping Spree For Charities


Pick any 4 charities that you like. Give the same amount to each, it doesn't matter how much. And do it spontaneously, out of the ordinary.

Why?, you ask. The idea isn't to experience some sunshiny moment in your life or lift some guilt off your conscience. The idea is just to open yourself up to random, easy, selfless acts. The more spontaneous the better. It's easy. You're not donating blood, building a house, adopting a child, or donating code. You don't even have to move from where you are right this second. Do something quick and easy for other people just because it feels right. Good is the most worthwhile thing to do for its own sake.

Doing good is an exercise like any other. Once you do it more often and start getting good at it, it gets easier. But spontaneous is the key here. I think it's a good exercise to donate spontaneously, not just for devastating earthquakes. After a month, you won't even remember the money is gone, but you'll probably remember that you did some good. We rarely remember the tough workouts, and the soreness eventually goes away. But the muscles and endurance we get from constantly exercising are worth it.

Why 4? Why not just 1? It's harder than it sounds. And that's the point. This is an exercise. This is an easy way for you not just to get in the habit of doing some good, but getting your brain in the habit of actively thinking about how to help. I wanted to diversify my charities, and this was an interesting way of seeing where my interests were and how I could help them. I donated to The V Foundation (jimmyv.org, from my love of college basketball and one my favorite speeches), Amani (amanikids.org, where Stephanie and I volunteered in Africa), The World Wildlife Fund (worldwildlife.org, my love for animals), and Sundance (sundance.org, my love for movies). JimmyV and Amani were no-brainers. I got a random WWF donation thing in the mail. Sundance was the most difficult. I couldn't think of a 4th, so I went online to see what charities there were. I found this site that ranks charities (there are others too). I went through their top 10 lists and learned a bit about how non-profits are run. And then I looked over my list (cancer, African kids, animals) and wanted to diversify. I wanted something to do with movies. I really respect Robert Redford and his Sundance company. The charity ranking site rated them highly, so that was my 4th charity. It wasn't easy to think of 4 charities off the top of my head. With a small amount of research I learned a little. And now the next "reps" should be a lot easier.

Give it a try. 4 charities x $5 = $20 + you get to help 4 worthwhile organizations that you care about. Easy.