In this two-part episode of When Would You Want to Know, I interview giving expert, Digvijay Chauhan. Covering everything from America’s current giving habits, how we can give more, and the joy that comes from giving.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started your gratitude sharing platform, Giving Joy.
Digvijay: First, I wish I could take the credit for coming up with it, but Giving Joy, our gratitude sharing platform, is a coming together of the happiness, joy, and experiences of all the people around me.
I came to the US in 91, for my masters at Seattle University. Seattle U was a very caring, joyful environment. People used to come up to me when I was going to school and in an affectionate way say, “Hey what a nice accent, where are you from?” When they heard I was from India they would say, “I’ve heard of the poverty over there, how can we help?” The how can I help and how can I give something little to other, has been a constant theme in my life. Many wise souls, in many cultures, have told us that gratitude is the most important marker of happiness. Whether you believe in any particular religion or you are an atheist, it’s validated by science, if you want to be more happy and joyful, then gratitude is one of the key ingredients of that.
Do you find people are more joyful when they give larger amounts?
Digvijay: We are all human beings and when large amounts come in, they sometimes bring with them the paraphernalia of what we’ve gathered in a lifetime. The most selfless giving that I have seen is with small grassroots donations. When someone gives $5, $10, $15 dollars, all they want to do is share a little bit with someone else who they feel would benefit from those resources and they give it because they feel the joy of giving.
What are some of the most impactful things you’ve learned about giving?
Digvijay: The non-profit world is very different from the for profit environment I had previously been in. I was dealing with human psychology, why people give, why they don’t give and what makes giving more joyful? There were many lessons learned in that journey, I used to fall off my chair every few days.
- 40% of the world is under nourished kids are in India where I grew up.
- In America, approximately $250-$300+ billion is given every year, but most of it comes from individuals, not foundations and not corporations.
- Most of individuals that give make less than $150K a year.
- About 5-7% of people feel very joyful by bringing other people together to evangelize a cause that they believe in. So, these 5-7% people, actually drive most of the 85% + of the giving.
With this information I began to ask myself, how do we get everyone engaged? When there is so much love in people’s hearts, when most people can afford to give $15-$20, why is it that we don’t have more giving? There is so much love in so many people around us. I feel that there is such great depth of emotion and love that sometimes we don’t know how to capture it and express it in a manner that does that depth justice.
How Can We Give More?
Digvijay: Through my studies, I arrived at the conclusion that here in the west, we have a very scarce resource called time. When you grow up in the East you feel you have multiple lifetimes and karma becomes more important. The west is much more an egalitarian place, cost of labour is much higher, we have to do everything ourselves. Our lives from morning to night are taken away, filled with things we do for our loved ones, or kids, our parents. That leaves us very little time, so my conclusion was we must give people a simple, easy way to express love and gratitude. Philanthropist, Scott Okie, Pierre and I pulled together an easy technology that we think does justice to that depth of emotion.
You can go on the Giving Joy website and within a couple of minutes, send a friend, co-worker, or family member a gratitude gift card. It’s called the Giving Joy card, where you attach your video or your voice and express how grateful you are. In addition to that, you can attach a small amount of money, say a $25 gift card or $5. When they get it, they have the flexibility of either using the money as is, cashing it out, donate it to a charity of their choice, or they can pick a charity that Giving Joy suggests. We’ve done a fair amount of research and homework and only suggest really high impact charities.
The Joy of Giving
In one of our earlier podcasts I mentioned this epiphany moment in a family event, where I recognized this truism that the unhappiest people I knew were completely self-focused and malcontent about all the things they didn’t have. In comparison with the happiest people I knew, were fully focused on enhancing the well-being of other people’s lives and grateful for everything they do have. That’s really what this is about. The trick is, you can’t do it because you want joy, you have to actually do it selflessly. If you do it for an outcome, you won’t feel the joy. You must do it to enhance the life of others out of love.
On the next #WWYWTK episode:
Digvijay Chauhan is back to further explain his gratitude sharing platform, Giving Joy in Ep.03: How to Share Gratitude. When would you want to know Giving Joy has created a simple way to leave a profound legacy.