As I considered the idea of passionate giving, I asked myself, “What am I passionate about?” Well, if you’ve ever been to my house a quick glance around my office answers that question. It’s books. I’m passionate about Books. I love to read. A lot.
That’s when I came up with a plan.
As a longtime member of “PaperBackSwap.com”:http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php?n=2&r_by=jackardiac, I’m constantly mailing books to other members in exchange for credits. I can then use these credits to request books that I want to read (and keep). So I decided I would conduct an experiment. Instead of the standard exchange where I’d get a credit for each book I send out, I decided I would start giving away extra books to requestors, at no charge to them. Just to see what would happen.
I began with a total of 6 credits in my account. On my next incoming book request, I made my unheard of offer to the requestor: “Feel free to choose 2 more books. On the house.” I explained that I’d send them some of MY credits to reimburse them, and they’d end up getting 3 books for the cost of 1 credit. Granted, it cost me 2 of my own credits and a few extra cents to ship ‘em via Media Mail, but the benefits quickly became clear. Not only would I get those 3 credits BACK when they made their requests, but I’d feel good, knowing I was able to give books away, showing a total stranger some unmerited favor and kindness.
So I did this repeatedly, giving people extra books as my personal credit amount would allow. You’ll recall how I started with 6 credits? Well, within 3 short weeks of this giving spree I ended up with a total of 21 credits in my account. Twenty-one! That was more than I’d ever seen at one time in my entire 3 years of being a site member!
How did this happen? Well, for one thing, a lot of the requestors went on to pick MORE than the extra books I offered to cover. So just making the offer it resulted in more books being requested in the end, which meant more credits for me to share. Secondly, and more interestingly, I had a sudden increase in book requests. More and more people were requesting books, so I was suddenly receiving a windfall of credits.
I’ve since found I don’t even have to make the OFFER to get this giving stuff to work. Sometimes just the THOUGHT ALONE is enough to jump start things. Just last Friday night I was looking at my account and saw I was down to a measly 5 credits. I thought to myself “Man, looks like it’s time for me to give some books away.” The very next day I received an e-mail from a woman who sent me a list of 11 books she wanted, and was wondering if I’d be willing to “make a deal” with her.
I was. 11 books for the price of 5. It’ll be interesting to watch my credit amount soar once again (and I fully expect it will).
Update: Just this week I had another example of how outrageous giving resulted in amazing results. I had a request come in from a club member named Kathleen, and I made the same offer to her: pick an extra book on me. She did, and we thankful for it. As I later browsed her Wishlist (books she’d like to receive some day, but is in a waiting line for each one), I noticed she was wishing for Max Lucado’s “Fearless.”
I had received that very book back in August as a blog reviewer, and was kind of underwhelmed by it. Because I had underlined in it, however, I wasn’t able to put it in the system for other people to request it. When I saw it was on her wishlist, however, I wrote to her and offered it to her for free, if she was interested in it (rather than her having to wait months or years for her request to rise to the top of the queue). I also offered her my copy of his book, “Facing Your Giants.”
She graciously accepted my offer. So in essence she was going to get 4 books for me for the cost of 1 credit. Not a bad deal. But then the unexpected happened.
You see, Kathleen decided to browse MY Wishlist as well, and in doing so she found that SHE in turn had 2 of the books I’ve been wishing for (but was facing a long wait in the queue.) And since they weren’t entered into the system, she was free to offer them to me outright as well, without charging me a single credit.
So… here’s the recap. She requests one book, and winds up with four, skipping a long wait for two of them. I, in return, will receive two books on my wishlist (which I’d have ALSO been waiting a long time to receive) for the cost of nothing.
See how that works?
Even if we don’t fully understand HOW outrageous giving works, we can still understand and practice this truth: It Works. And it works wonders, often in unexpected ways.
(More to come, so stay tuned.)