Hello my dear happiness nerds, welcome back!
I’m back from the summer break with a topic that is very dear to my heart: Helping beautiful Mother Nature to recover from global warming. And I think I found a way that beats every other way I’ve heard of, pondered, or researched (at least for individuals like myself – the systemic changes must happen additionally, of course). It’s a win-win-win-win-win method in my opinion and here’s a preview of some of its benefits, so you can decide if this post is worth your time:
- It’s incredibly simple.
- It’s very efficient.
- It’s fun.
- It’s meaningful.
- It connects you with others.
- It doesn’t cost you a penny (it only costs a little of your time and how much of it is up to you).
- You’re in total control.
- Anyone can do it.
- You can adapt it to your situation.
- You can apply it to any other cause that is dear to you – it doesn’t have to be saving nature (although, if you want to pay me some tribute for this idea, please consider applying it at least in part to this cause).
So, what is this alleged wonder-method for helping the planet (or contributing to any other cause)? I call it fun-raising and, in a nutshell, it works like this: You help somebody else and instead of paying you they donate to a charity of your choice.
Simple, right? Yet, it combines much of what is best about fundraising, volunteer work, and pro bono work (which are all terrific already!) and adds some unique advantages. I was discussing fun-raising with my best friend the other day and we just kept noticing benefit after benefit (hence the long list above). So much for the tl;dnr part – let’s dig deeper!
How does fun-raising work, exactly?
There’s actually not much more to say than in the nutshell above: You take something you’re reasonably good at and enjoy reasonably well and offer it as a service, which people compensate you for by donating to a cause/organization you care about (if you want, you can offer a range of causes/organizations to your service-users). You should be good at the service you offer so people would desire your service in the first place. If you’re good at what you’re offering you’re likely going to enjoy it (because you feel competent while doing it) – you might even get into the wonderful state of flow and reap its many benefits! Your enjoyment also makes sure that you’ll keep up the fun-raising more or less effortlessly for some years to come. As you can see, I named my method “fun-raising” for a reason. The fun-part is really crucial.
This might bother some people, who’d like to see good deeds being done purely for altruistic (i.e., non-selfish) reasons. And I get that. But when it comes to helping the planet recover, I’m pragmatic. I’ll favor what does the most good with the least harm. And I think fun-raising strikes a great balance here – the only cost being some of your time. And it does not have to be much time either. In my case, I’m aiming for 1 hour per week in which I offer psychological counseling for donations to the amazing Rainforest Coalition. In an ideal year with 48 sessions (I grant myself four weeks of vacation here, too), I’d raise around 5000 USD (donations per session would vary based on the clients’ wallets). And that’s tax-free money, another advantage of the method!
The barriers fun-raising overcomes
I think the benefits of fun-raising become clearest when I first mention some of the main barriers to getting active:
- Barriers to giving money: Donating one’s hard earned money hurts even though it’s probably the most effective way of doing good. And maybe you literally cannot afford to do so, because you don’t have the funds. With fun-raising the money your clients donate was never in your pockets to begin with. Rationally it shouldn’t make a difference but psychologically it so does!
- Barriers to devoting one’s career: If you’re like me you didn’t plan your career around the cause you care most about now. Therefore, you’re not qualified to contribute with paid work. And earning a suitable qualification may take too long, be too expensive, be too big of a commitment, or simply not enjoyable to you. For example, I love nature but studying environmental engineering is just not an option for me. With fun-raising I can just deploy the skills that I already have.
- Barriers to contributing with one’s time: Maybe unskilled volunteer work might be a good alternative then? It can be, but often it’s not the most efficient option or comes with its own problems. Take planting trees, for example: Planting trees here in Switzerland would be way less efficient than doing it in, say, Ethiopia. But flying there would produce more CO2 than all the trees I could plant would compensate. Plus, it’s not the best use of my skills as a psychologist and I might break my decrepit nerd back in the process. Lastly, I’d take away meaningful work from a local, who would not have to fly anywhere to do good. With fun-raising I can get the most out of my skillset and transform it into wisely-used money wherever I am without damaging local economies.
The benefits of fun-raising in more detail
- Simple: You don’t need much to start with fun-raising. Just post your service on social media and the word will spread. In my experience, people love the idea and you’ll have enough requests in no time. Beat the perfectionist in you – you don’t need a pretty website, impressive business cards, or anything like that. Five minutes for a social media post is all it takes.
- Efficient: As I said, five minutes is all it takes to get started. Also, people can make their donations directly to the charity, so you don’t need any “payment” infrastructure and you don’t have any fuss with bookkeeping, taxes, and the like. Virtually all of the time you spend with fun-raising is spent on providing the service.
- Fun: You choose the service freely and you’re good at the service you’re offering, so fun is guaranteed. Also, you’re helping somebody for free (after all, you’re not being paid!) while creating funds for a cause you care about. The other person knows this, so they’re usually excited, too, which creates a much more pleasant environment than when they’re expecting the most bang for their hard-earned bucks. They just donated to a good cause and your service kind of comes as a bonus, so it’s already a win-win situation from the start.
- Meaningful: Fun-raising feels more meaningful than donating or doing volunteer work, because one is providing a service to a person who is right in front of oneself. The benefits from this are felt immediately and concretely. One is not only contributing to a greater, more abstract, and harder to measure cause like reversing climate change, but also helping a fellow human being here and now (which, according to happiness research, is one of the most effective ways towards one’s own happiness, too).
- Connecting: If you start fun-raising, please let me know! We’ll be connected through it. More importantly though, fun-raising is a means to connecting with your service-users in a positive, constructive, and, as I mentioned, fun way. In the process you’re likely to inspire others to start their own fun-raising journeys, thereby expanding your network of connection even further!
- Free: As I said: The money you create for your cause through fun-raising was never yours to begin with.
- Self-determined: All decisions in fun-raising are yours: What service you offer, which service-users you work with, how much time you dedicate and at what time of the day and week, if you team up with others, what charity you support, and so on. You’re the boss of your own little fun-raising enterprise!
- Inclusive: Anyone can fun-raise, because everybody has something to offer. Giving guitar lessons, gardening, teaching sign language, babysitting, helping with tax returns, designing a brand logo, repairing a car, giving legal advice, photographing a wedding, and so on – the possibilities are endless!
- Flexible: You can adapt fun-raising to every situation in your life. Especially stressful months? Take a break! A project got cancelled? Do something meaningful by fun-raising a bit more for a while! Stuck at home during a pandemic lockdown? Offer a service online! New in town? Get to know the generosity of the locals by sharing your own. Got bored of a service or the service-users weren’t satisfied? Offer a different service! Found an even more awesome charity you want to support? Go for it or support several charities at a time! Remember: You’re free to fun-raise in any way that works best for you in your current situation.
So, this is fun-raising. Let me know in the comments below what you think about it and if you have any suggestions for improving it. Please also let me know if you’ve encountered this concept elsewhere – I’ve done some research to see if it already existed but I didn’t find anything like it. And most of all: Please brainstorm some activities you enjoy right now. Maybe you’ll find five minutes to start your fun-raising journey – alone or with like-minded friends – soon!
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