Reciprocal Altruism – the importance of empathy

Dev Patnaik with Peter Mortensen explored how organisations of all kinds prosper when they tap into a power each of us has: empathy, the ability to connect with other people. Their book’s called ‘Wired to Care’ and it’s something I often come back to as a reference source.

They cite an example from 1893 when more than 200 leaders from over 40 countries came together for a Parliament of World Religions. The goal was to see if they shared any common ground. Imagine that happening today and how long it would take! Anyway, the leaders all had different religious beliefs but did find one thing they all shared as a unifying belief, The Golden Rule. Their declaration was ‘The Ethic of Reciprocity’, a belief that human’s have the capacity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, which is the root of moral behaviour.

Wired to Care goes on to explore great examples of brands that work to The Golden Rule, something which is a natural human behaviour and inherent in the human brain.

They highlight that when we become disconnected from other people, we can’t behave in a consistently moral way as we ‘simply have nothing to calibrate our behaviour by.’ A challenge they set in the Golden Rule is to ‘treat people even better than they might expect to be treated.’

This year we’re looking forward to celebrating people who are #kindaware, brands and testing ourselves with how we treat people through different Kindaware campaigns.

Crowdfunding for care ruck sacks for people on the streets this Christmas

I saw a great idea a few months ago to create care ruck sacks for people living on the streets, filled with lots of essentials. So during these cold months it will be things like scarves, gloves, hats, socks and items we probably all take for granted like toothbrushes, toothpaste, face wipes, notebooks and pens. And a Christmas card, with some vouchers in for food restaurants.

I did a leadership programme called On Purpose last year and my second placement during it was at JustGiving, to help launch their crowdfunding site called Yimby.

So I’ve combined the two things and am crowdfunding to raise money to create some bags. Our original target was £200 to create 6-7, at an estimated £30 each. We hit our target on day 1 and still had 29 days to go, so have increased it to £400 (which you can view here.)

One of the best things about it, has been people offering old ruck sacks to us. So we’re now suggesting to people that they don’t have to donate money, items for the bags would be great too.

We’re going to go out and give the bags ourselves and shall also donate some to a few homeless charities – but we wanted to actually give them ourselves.

I’d love people to do a similar project across different parts of the UK, to help even more people. So if you’d like to do one feel free to get in touch we’d love to hear from you.

Robin Williams – Mork’s lesson

Mork And Mindy
“Mork & Mindy: In Mork We Trust (#1.21)” (1979)

Orson: The report, Mork.

Mork: This week I discovered a terrible disease called loneliness.

Orson: Do many people on Earth suffer from this disease?

Mork: Oh yes sir, and how they suffer. One man I know suffers so much he has to take a medication called bourbon, even that doesn’t help very much because then he can hear paint dry.

Orson: Does bed rest help?

Mork: No because I’ve heard that sleeping alone is part of the problem. You see, Orson, loneliness is a disease of the spirit. People who have it think that no one cares about them.

Orson: Do you have any idea why?

Mork: Yes sir you can count on me. You see, when children are young, they’re told not to talk to strangers. When they go to school, they’re told not to talk to the person next to them. Finally when they’re very old, they’re told not to talk to themselves, who’s left?

Orson: Are you saying Earthlings make each other lonely?

Mork: No sir I’m saying just the opposite. They make themeslves lonely, they’re so busy looking out for number one that there’s not enough room for two.

Orson: It’s too bad everybody down there can’t get together and find a cure.

Mork: Here’s the paradox sir because if they did get together, they wouldn’t need one.


This lady’s a waitress and had pretty challenging times growing up.
Despite everything she now runs her own non profit in her spare time, helping people with eating disorders recover through yoga. So the team at prank it forward decided to give her the best shift ever as she gives so much to other people.

And on the PrankitFWD website is says ‘This April, Break is using its prank powers for good as we unleash a handful of positive pranks. For every 1,000 views we’ll donate $1 to the social change organization,’ What a great idea for utilising video content for fundraising. They’ve had 20M views so far so that’s £20,000 donated.

Suspended coffee – small random acts of kindness

‘Every once in a while an idea comes along with the potential to truly make the world a better place. Suspended Coffee is one of those ideas.’ #suspendedcoffees

I heard about this months ago and have been meaning to feature it. You walk into a coffee shop and instead of buying just one cup of coffee for you, you buy two, or more. One for yourself and one for someone in need.

The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples (about 100 years ago so the story goes). Someone who’d experienced good luck would order a ‘sospeso’. They’d pay the price of two coffees and one would be kept for someone who may need it. A caffè sospeso (suspended coffee).

The UK arm of coffee chain Starbucks signed up for a charity initiative based on the suspended coffee concept in April 2013. I know it’s Starbucks so slightly taints they idea! Starbucks said it would match the value of each suspended coffee with a cash donation to the Oasis charity. I guess they can afford to with all the money they should be paying for tax.

Other shops are expanding the idea to cover cookies and other food. The Facebook page in the UK has designed “Suspended Coffee Supporter” logos which shops can display on their doors so you know which are on board. Hopefully some shops would donate any money left over at the end of each month to a good cause, which may be a concern for sceptics who think shops may benefit.

Will you buy a suspended coffee?

The Clothes Club – raising money for social enterprises

TheClothesClub_black The Clothes Club, a new garment swapping community, has been launched with a goal of raising £5,000 for local social enterprises, at events held by the group.

I came up with the idea a year-ago and have been working since then to get the right team in place. Lucy Dunleavy and Carmen Ortiz Guillen, two East London women with a passion for social enterprise, will be helping with the operation.

A Facebook page is now live and the blog will be ready in April ahead of the first event. What’s the insight behind The Clothes Club? Often there are items in our wardrobe we still like but just don’t wear anymore or perhaps a gift that’s perfectly fine but not your taste. With this in mind we’re forming a community of clothes swappers for good causes.

The money raised at each event will go to a different social enterprise, a sector that’s close to our hearts. We’ll be supporting Hackney Pirates with the event in April, who help 9-12 year olds.

Hopefully The Clothes Club will be a viable alternative to ebay, gumtree and car boot sales. It works this way: You pay £10 to bring 3 items (decent items rather than tat). You receive tokens and can swap them of other items. If there’s something extra you want you can always buy extra tokens. The money raised goes to a good cause and you go home with three new things and potentially some new friends. Sorry boys but it’s a girl only thing for now.

If you’d like to join the community you can here and we look forward to seeing you at the events.

Personal social responsibility:why i gave my bike away

Last year I started this blog to up my ‘personal social responsibility’. I’m treating it as an experiment: an exploration of the power of kindness. I volunteered with Spots of Time in the summer and it was amazing to see the difference a pampering day made to the elderly.

Communities can be a powerful entity both destructive and supportive. Living in London often means you don’t know your neighbour. I’ve been thinking about who in our community we know. I used to live in a small town (well village which is now a town) and everyone knew each other.

So…I’ve decided to expand my community and not just where I live. Through my blog I’ve ‘met’ people in the US doing amazing projects on kindness and lots of people in the UK. I’m doing an event in April which will raise money for different communities doing ‘good’ things (social enterprises mainly).

And I’m looking at possessions I don’t really need anymore and am finally doing something productive with them. I’m spreading a little bit of random acts of kindness by giving them away to someone who really needs it, so it will hopefully help them.

I put an ad on Gumtree saying someone could have my bike for free, they just needed to let me know why they wanted it.

The aim was to pick someone who it would make the biggest difference for. I got over 70 responses and stopped the ad, so I could try to get to know a shortlist of people a bit better.

Sheri and some of her family came to pick my bike up this morning, including her gorgeous 1 year old. She looked at my blog and kindly told me about a community project, The Workshop, run in West Norwood that she thought I’d like.

Sheri strongly believes in the power of communities herself and volunteers some of her time to teach beauty & makeup, for people who couldn’t afford it otherwise (I found this out afterwards).

The experiment in ‘personal social responsibility’ is just beginning….

Playing for change – music for positive social change

Music has the power to break down boundaries, some say music is a religion. But unlike religion, it has the universal power to unite us as one global community, despite our beliefs, economic status or distance.

Playing for Change was set up as a music movement, watch the video below, which has over 46million views – surely proof that such a movement has mass support. They set up a mobile recording studio and cameras initially, to travel the globe recording musicians.

Now musicians from all over the world perform benefit concerts. The money raised helps to build music and art schools in under priviledged communities and really makes a difference.

They also do partnerships with brands. Okaidi designed a special line of PFC t-shirts to be sold in over 700 stores worldwide. They committed 1 euro per T-Shirt sold to go to supporting the PFC musicians and music education programs. It doesn’t stop there.

There’s also now a Playing for Change Day on Sept 21. Last year they had 225 music events in 41 countries, on 6 continents which raised nearly  $70k, money which also helps support the programmes.

Music really does have the power to change the world and create positive social change.

The Kindness Offensive – 60 second interview

David Goodfellow from The Kindness Offensive kindly agreed to do a ’60 seconds’ interview for my first blog post.
So a big thank you to him and hope you enjoy the below. Keep an eye out for the amazing Kindness Offensive events in 2012 and they’re even talking to the Government!
If you’ve done any random acts of kindness drop me a line, would love to hear about them.
The Kinder bus
Q1/I love all your ideas, great experiential ideas with really strong content created, who comes up with them?
A/Thank you. Some ideas we develop amongst ourselves, while others are brought to us. Early on we laid down our aims and then proceeded to put our backs into it; the ideas have always flowed naturally as a result.

Q2/The pitch video for the White Stuff Route master bus was obviously a winner. You were a chef before, what was everyone else’s backgrounds before TKO?
A/We’re proud to have a volunteer base from extremely diverse backgrounds. The core members include a folk musician, philosophy students and an author.

Q3/Was there something that inspired you to set up The Kindness Offensive and is it your full time professions now?
A/We started TKO to test out some positive thinking principles; after a discussion the three of us realised that we’d never really had a go at the ‘classic’ activities that are reported to ‘truly’ make people happy. What if you actually woke up one morning and started acting out of character, doing good things that the day before you would have never considered doing? Well that’s what we did and TKO is what happened.

Q4/Are there any companies you’d particularly like to work with in future?
A/I don’t think I’ll get a good nights sleep till we see the Nike Air Kindness, Coca Cola Kindness six packs and of course the Oakley TKO Frogskins.

Q5/You’ve been going since 2008, what have you found the hardest the last 4 years?
A/Group dynamics; growing a project like this has meant a constant stream of new faces and an upward spiralling set of standards that have been hard for everyone to keep up with.

Q6/Is there anything TKO need in 2012 to make things easier?
A/Premises and funding. We are working on both and feel we have excellent prospects.

Q7/How do you commercially survive?
A/Point three of our three point constitution says that all our activity has to be free to the public. So we never seek donations, we have no PayPal button on our website and no one will shake a can in your face at our events. We have survived thus far, mainly through our partnerships with companies.

Q8/The Hazelwick school kindness offensive is a great way to demonstrate consideration and being thoughtful to others, outside of R.E., would you do it across other schools?
A/We are currently consulting with the government about a proposal to develop the schools aspect of what we do. So watch this space.