Giving It Away

Update: 2016-11-251
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In this hour, stories from TED speakers who are 'giving it away' in new and surprising ways, and the things that happen in return. (Original broadcast date: May 17, 2013).

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

support for this podcast in the following message come from concur a service where employees get simplified expense reports and business leaders get full visibility into their company spending habits expense travel invoice learn more at concurred dot com slash Radio Hour hate this guy here just good note to let you know that the Ted Radio Hour staff is off this week to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday to take a listen to this rebroadcast of our episode about giving it's a really great episode about the unexpected things that happen when you give way your time and money even your ideas this is the Radio Hour the Each week the groundbreaking had talked the Ted Technology Design at Stanford never known gift of the human had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR first true day comes from a man named Mark basis we caught up with him in scars on your list of Disney with all the kids or some mad men lived he would commute that is correct what many of us to you smoke cigarettes and I do not but I am a fan of scotch like the which is where the comparisons with Don Draper and because Mark stayed at the firehouse he's a firefighter Washington fifty six go actually a volunteer firefighter and we call them up to hear a story he told on the Ted stage about his very first fire so so tell me the story it was in the middle the night is probably three thirty in them in the morning and pager out of bed and distorted spinning around in circles but I wasn't quite sure what the noise highway let me know that it was in fact the fire pager going hard case of the work since cars to which is the way it works in a lot of smaller towns is that professional firefighters are always on duty they respond first so if you're a volunteer like Mark you get a call or text or page a home sold mark rushes to the fire scene so we arrive on the scene you put on the here and there flames jumping out of the second story of the house it happened to be a terrible weather rain was coming down horizontally it was just really bad night and Mark sees the homeowner she was standing with the fire captain barefoot in the rain watching her have her and she was pretty excited when she was talking to the captain and come to find out that her dog was in that in the house she was very concerned about the dog to mark rushes to the captain for supporters but it was one other volunteer at the scene who arrived just a few minutes before Mark the captain called him over and asked him to go inside and get the water stock and you are right behind him in and what did you think to be to be honest I was jealous you know you do an awful lot of training and you have these visions of the opportunity to go in do something heroic the save an animal's save a dog that somebody who isn't in a burning building and so I thought this was my moment I'm getting an up coming back home and like it's going to look at the lake and ten feet tall and bulletproof maybe you can see where this is all going this is not the what happened that's what happened instead was the captain called mark over the ass me to go into the house to get the homeowner pair of shoes which was not exactly what I was hoping for so mark those inside the house she grabs a pair of shoes that were particularly dangerous part of the house he brings them back outside to the homeowner to CNN tour a city might be more comfortable if you put these on or something like that but she was very focused on the dog at the moment so I don't know their eyes ever ever met over the handoff of the shoes and then Mark headed home feeling kind of disappointed went from hero to zero the point at least a few weeks later the fire department received a letter in the mail the letter was those very few sips thanking everybody for all the effort in saving her house and her property and obviously the dog and the shoes he noted that someone had even taken the time to go into the building to get a which had touched her the what you think when you read that and it's one of those things that it's so easy to dismiss the opportunity to do something good because you're hoping to do something great there are opportunities dozens of time today to make a difference in somebody's life small is no returning a smile or offering the first mile I mean there's just so many opportunities that I think the big lesson for me here's how Mark ended his Ted talk so as I look around this room at people who either have achieved or are on their way to achieving remarkable levels of success I would offer this reminder don't wait don't wait to make your first Million to make a difference in somebody's life if you have something to give give it now serve food to soup kitchen clean up a neighborhood park be a mentor not every day is going to offer us a chance to save some body's life but every day offers us an opportunity to affect want to get in the game save the shoes thank you the margaritas he worked for Robin Hood is an anti poverty group in New York on the show today giving it away stories from Ted's because you give stuff their art their food their time their ideas and things happen when they do The The so if you want quick snack and sat at a Los Angeles some options might be some hot Cheetos oars some Coke Pepsi or anything sugary this is Ron Finley and the snack options a problem he wanted to solve how you introduce like a describe yourself to people you know I come oso from a renegade evolutionary the sounds dangerous the band with the The I'm thinking like you're armed with two carats nine and the kids a Pitchfork and all of the chair cancel a bit more violent than the care and know the Renegades against the garden like the I'm not that that kind of gardener with overalls you know the straw in his mouth yet the new were focus around Philly story how he became a gangsta gardener starts in his name read the stuff into the store fast food bacon lot I live in a food desert south into Los Angeles home of the drive thru and a drive by the funny thing is dry through the kill them or he wouldn't drive by I see real tears bought and sold like dudes car AC dialysis centers popping up like Starbucks so I figured that the problem is the solution food is the problem if food is the solution I got tired to drive forty five minutes to get Apple to was impregnated with pesticide the the what I did plan a full force in front of my house of the pomegranate trees beats college three times till kao growing this is run Phillies garden like different levels of light different colors different textures difference mails you know it you ever had Alpine strawberry know Bill White in the never sent a movie to come to play with fate can you see these almond growers might re re air the beautiful and his garden it's literally in front of house on the sidewalk open to the public twenty four seven no formal invitation required in the beginning the idea of a community garden on the sidewalk in South Central was so strange that his neighbors would mock in the column running Apple seed money Apple see the I remember this time from his mother in the dark and thirty nine they were my yard and I came out and they look so it sings some like man it made me feel bad that they would air totem you know you don't have to do this like this this is on the street for reason it made me feel the shame to see people that was this close to me that was hungry this only reinforced why I do isn't the web are just three people got to still your fault don't like you know nine afraid to us that this was on the street the idea I want them to take but in the same time I want them to take back the giveaway yes that's what is for the hits on the street for reasons I want you to enjoy this food in the foot part seems important but it sounds like something bigger that you can and going after something about just sharing it feels good feels good to be able to share it feels good to be able to change something it feels good to to give but I mean but then that you also have to receive a lot of people they have a problem with that my thing is that with being in the yang is all about the so so Amanda Palmer who were here for later in the show she says that we have to ask somebody if you also want to give like like that's an Integra part of it I think that being in the yank it has to have bounds this garden is about bring some get some yuan Fu bring some food to bring something you know just don't come take take take take take the is mandatory that you have to gear and you have to be able to receive just imagine if we had one whole block cooperative that they grow food and you know which enables grown so you don't have to grow it cause you know May was doing the carrots and you know taxes due and onions and you know you have the cabinets and fruit trees that will be my part for Gore ever since planting his garden on Finley in a group of volunteers have worked in almost twenty other gardens and his neighbors even strangers they've given him wheelbarrow ceilings plant's entire trees sometimes they just leave them on his front porch I see young people and they want to work but they're in this thing would have caught up with the kids to color it in the just on this track that leads them to nowhere so with gardening I see opportunity we can train these kids to take over their community to have a sustainable life and when we do is who the we might produce the next George Washington Carver but if we don't change the composition of soil we would never do that what I'm talking about it with people who are good again he is of the street met them know the joy of pride and honor in growing your own food so so what I wanted to hear we got to make the sex I want to become evolutionary really gay gangster guard we got to change them or gets flipped the script own against the undead arguing against the big game going against the wood so self okay to let that be a weapon of choice so basically if you want to meet with me don't call me if you want to sit around and in Chrissy cheers and have meetings where you talk about divorce and the one Amy with me come to the garden which shows shovel week of classes the uh run Finley you can see his full Ted talk at Ted dot NPR dot org the we like gardening gangsta rap where there's one you as a friend of mine Keith Krause has a song called homegrown that the farm kept the the trees the of peace the song got me the show today giving it away and it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR stay with us being one of the back the the the hey one just quick thanks to two of our sponsors who help make this podcast possible first to one class maker of the new one plus three smartphone featuring powerful specs at a premium all metal building and dash charge and exclusive technology that sets a new benchmark in charging speeds a quick half hour charge will give you a full day's worth of battery life and the one plus three won't like you into restrictive carrier contracts get your hands on it at one plus dot net Thanks also to discover who believes innovation and good ideas can come from anywhere this cover is one of the pioneers in giving people cash back on their purchases and out there doing it again at the end of your first year as the new card member will match all the cash back earned dollar for dollar with no caps no catch because discover believes in taking a good idea making it even better check it out at discover dot com slash batch just get the cash track match offer only for new card members limitations apply it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR and I rise on the show to date giving it away which isn't how damn plot a starter that because it was a kid in Malden Massachusetts gamblers focus was on making isn't making money is me and Patrick Bruno we had you know we were the two big competitors in the neighborhood and he had the Leo knees lawn which was the prized long he wanted to get the result is a paid like six dollars I had the loops and they paid five in the twisters they paid for but then that winner I bought a snowblower from my neighbor for sixty bucks about Toro snowblower eight horsepower snowblower and that was the winner we had the blizzard of seventy eight I made the sixty bucks back in the first six inches the number Mr. Locke tell my mother like it's going to go please The The The The and he did College and Harvard elected to the school board at nineteen a budding entrepreneur but something happened on the way to Wall Street and plotted decided he could make and give an idea that eventually upended his life he told the story and the Ted stage want to talk about social innovation and social entrepreneurship I want to talk about how the things we've been taught to think about giving and about charity and about the nonprofit sector are actually undermining the causes we love and our profound yearning to change the world charitable giving has remained stuck in the US and two percent of GDP ever since we started measuring it in the nineteen seventies why has poverty remained stuck at twelve percent of the US population for forty years why of our breast cancer charities not come close to finding a cure for breast cancer are homeless charities not come close to ending homelessness in any major city and the answer is the social problems are massive in scale our organizations are tiny up against them and we have a believe system that keeps them tiny we have to rule books one for the nonprofit sector and one for the rest of the economic world so Amazon went for six years without returning any profit to investors and people had patients but if a non profit organization ever had a dream of building magnificent scale required that for six years no money was going to go to the needy was all then be invested in building a scale we would expect the crucifixion we tell the for profit sector spend spend spend on advertising until the last dollar no longer produces a penny of value we don't like to see our donation spent on advertising in charity as if the money invested in advertising could not bring in dramatically greater sums of money to serve the needy if we tell the consumer brands you may advertise all the benefits of your product but we took charities you cannot advertise all the good the cheese you we think the consumer dollars are going to flow so the for profit sector the more value you produce the more money you can make but we have a visceral reaction to the idea that make very much money helping other people interesting that we don't have a visceral reaction to the notion that people would make a lot of money not helping other people you know you are to make fifty million dollars selling violent video games the kids go for it will project the cover of wired magazine but you want them a half a million dollars trying to cure a kid to malaria and you consider dat i care and save yourself the in this idea well it's it's personal for Dan because back in nineteen ninety he formed a for profit company was couple on a team works it was designed to help charities and nonprofits raise money in Gro Gro lot we didn't charge a percentage like some firms do we just charge the fixed fee for each event know OK will produce this event in Boston for whatever two hundred and fifty thousand dollars no matter how much it raises and a hundred percent in the money went to the charities Sudan's first event was a Charity Bike Ride for AIDS research and he launched it with fifty thousand dollars in seed money he got from a gay rights group in L A we netted thirteen thousand dollars on the first event and we had predicted that we'd net six hundred thousand so it was a huge success and let you turn fifty thousand dollars into more than a million net yeah we just turned into because that proved the concept right so on that base is other people wanted to do the AIDS rides and other people started putting up capital and at the end that little idea was one hundred and eight million dollars net the years between nineteen ninety four in two thousand two were a period of incredible growth for Dance Company for eight solid years he ran the organization unlike any charity or nonprofit instead it operated just like a for profit company because it was the like in those days everything and white printing in color was a big deal for charity side so one of the things I want color brochures what color adds to the second year he helped to mount the AIDS charity right the organizers want to expand to New York and I thought we need a full page ad in the arts and leisure section on a Sunday in The New York Times forty thousand dollars to run that ad in New York area that forty thousand dollar ad brought in to the half million dollars in revenue and so course you start buying more ads when you see that with more money than hire more people but not from the nonprofit was twelve I think vice presidents and they were all top notch that come from law firms in for profit businesses in some of them made six figures and also hired professionals to produce offense to melt these shy and theatrical experience we had this incredible professional touring team for the logistics top notch carpenters and rigors and electricians and plumbers on the planet emerge grew into a national force three hundred and fifty people in sixteen offices in Boston Chicago San Francisco L A Washington D C San Diego Miami Dallas Denver Seattle now you're firing on all cylinders in everyone's working really hard to be around that kind of success especially when it's in the name of of these important causes no there's nothing there's nothing like it and millions of dollars raised at the same time and the company was nimble and can turn on a dime it didn't have to run every decision by a board the way lots of other nonprofits to end and owned it he had a personal stake in its success you know I just didn't want to build something and put my heart and soul into something and maybe and eventually know I I put up everything I was worth to borrow money to launch the AIDS vaccine Rights a signed personal guarantees I didn't want to do that without being able to own it without being able to have equity in two thousand to is our most successful year ever we netted for breast cancer alone that year alone seventy after all expenses and then we went out of business the suddenly and traumatic but wind well the short story is our sponsor split honest they wanted to distance themselves from us because we were being crucified in the media for investing forty percent of the grows in recruitment and customer service and the magic of the experience and there is no accounting terminology to describe that kind of investment in growth in the future other than this demonic label of overhead so on one day all three hundred and sixty of our great employees lost their jobs because they were labeled overhead Our sponsor when tried events on their own overhead went up net income for breast cancer research went down by eighty four percent or sixty million dollars in one year almost all advanced business came from the one sponsored because of the media criticism no other charities want to work with the group and you know we needed twelve million dollars every year essentially to capitalize the events because the events would cost a lot of money at first before that money the donation money would start coming in and you know we just couldn't find that money overnight you had it we had a payroll to meet we had to shut the company down there was no it had become too big to do a small lay off that massive and personally devastating yeah it was a hit was the saddest day in my life you know and I've lost my partner to suicide and you know I've had many many friends die but to lose your whole professional family in one day in own three hundred and fifty people gone yet it was it was a death but worse the because you know when someone dies people come with flowers in the surround you support the new company goes out of business everybody has for the hills the the entrepreneurs fate I guess when something goes wrong but it's about as lonely and devastating experiences as I can think of and I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy the This is what happens when we confuse mortality with frugality and we figured this is our system of ethics but we don't realize is that the system has a powerful side effect which is it gives a really stark mutually exclusive choice between doing very well for yourself and your family or doing good for the world to the brightest minds coming out of our best universities and sends tens of thousands of people who could make a huge difference in the nonprofit sector marching every year directly into the for profit sector because they're not willing to make that kind of lifelong economic sacrifice BusinessWeek did a survey looked at the compensation packages for MBA is ten years at the Business School and the median compensation for Stanford MBA with bonus at the age of thirty eight was four hundred thousand dollars meanwhile for the same year the average salary for the CEO of a five million dollars plus medical charity in the US is two hundred and thirty two thousand dollars in for a Hunger Charity eighty four thousand dollars Now there's no way you get a lot of people with four hundred thousand dollar talent to make a three hundred and sixteen thousand dollars sacrifice every year to become the CEO of a hundred chaired some people say well that's because those MBA types a greedy not necessarily they might be smart it's cheaper for that person to donate a hundred thousand dollars every year to the hunger charity save fifty thousand dollars on their taxes so still be roughly two hundred and seventy thousand dollars a year ahead of the game now be called The philanthropist because they don't eat a hundred thousand dollars to charity probably sit on the board of The Hunger Charity indeed probably supervise the poor s o b who decided to become the CEO of The Hunger charity and have a lifetime of this kind of power and influence in popular phrase still ahead of them the room right now this ideology gets police but is one very dangerous question which is what percentage of my donation goes to the cause versus overhead a lot of problems with this question and just focus on two first it makes us think that overhead is a negative that is somehow not part of the costs but it absolutely is especially if it's being used for growth now this idea that overhead is somehow an enemy of the cars creates the second much larger problem which is it forces organizations to go without the overhead things they really need to grow in the interest of keeping overhead low so we've all been taught that charity should spend as little as possible on overhead things like fund raising and to the theory that well the less money spent on fund raising more money there is available for the cars well that's true if it's a depressing world in which this guy cannot be made any bigger the the all been taught that the big sale with five percent overhead is morally superior to the professional fund raising enterprise with forty percent overhead but were missing the most important piece of information which is what is the actual size of the spies who cares if the bake sale only has five percent overhead if it's tiny what if the big sale only netted seventy one dollars for charity because it made no investment in its scale and the professional fund raising enterprise netted seventy one million dollars because it did now which high would we prefer and which hide we think people who are hungry would prefer here's how all of this impacts the big picture I said the charitable giving is two percent of GDP in the United States that's about three hundred billion dollars a year but only about twenty percent of that or sixty billion dollars goes to Health and Human Services causes the rest goes to religion in higher education and hospitals and that sixty billion dollars is not nearly enough to tackle these problems but if we could move charitable giving from two percent of GDP up just one step just one step to three percent of GDP by investing in that growth that would be an extra hundred and fifty billion dollars a year in contributions and if that money could go disproportionately to health and human services charities because those were the ones we encouraged to invest in their growth that would represent a tripling of contributions to that sector now are talking scale now we're talking the potential for real change but it's never going to happen by forcing these organizations to lower their horizons to the demoralizing objective of keeping their overhead low people are yearning to measure the full distance of their potential on behalf of the causes that they care about deeply but they have to be asked our generation does not want its epitaph to read we kept charity overhead low I I we wanted to read that we change the world in that part of the way we did that was by changing the way we think about these things
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Giving It Away

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