Scrap Story #1: Giving

Friday, September 9, 2011

In early 2000, I was working with a friend on some financial problems she was having. It turned out that her problems were more psychological than financial and I was trying to figure out how to explain things to her so they made sense and she could get everything rolling again.

As part of this process, I was reading different financial books. I read Suze Orman’s Nine Steps to Financial Freedom, which talks a lot about a person’s relationship with money. One of the steps involves giving money away — Orman talks about how giving money makes you open to receiving money. She says the first payment you make every month should be money freely given, with no strings attached and no expectation of return. Just money you’re giving away and letting go of.

One day around this time, I was walking a new route from the post office downtown back to my house. I walked past a storefront on Foster Street, the sign above the window said The Scrap Exchange, and below the sign were four sets of mannequin legs dangling crazily over the sidewalk.

Naturally the sign caught my eye.

I paused and looked in the window but couldn’t quite tell what it was and wasn’t sure what I’d be in for if I walked through the door. I decided not to risk it and just kept walking.

Two days later, there was a big article in the N&O about the organization, a nonprofit creative reuse center that collected materials that would otherwise be thrown away and made them available at low cost to the community. The organization had recently moved to my neighborhood from its previous location at Northgate Mall. The new space was much bigger, and had great potential, but came with much higher expenses. The director said they were struggling, she wasn’t sure if they would be able to pull it off.

I thought the organization sounded amazing — what a great idea to take things that people want to get rid of and get them to people who can use them! I thought about Suze Orman and the idea of giving money away with no strings and no expectation of return. I sent a donation for $150, without ever having been in the store.

The next week, one of my colleagues at work who, like me, had started at a low salary and had received nothing but meager raises for many years, got a new job at a different organization with a much higher salary. Upon resigning, she said that the pay rate was a huge factor in her decision, and she pointed out that others were likely to make the same decision unless something was done.

For once, management listened, and quickly undertook a salary review. They realized that yes, many people were significantly underpaid, and put through across-the-board raises for all junior-level staff who had been in their position for more than a few years. My salary went up by $3,000.

I was like holy cow, this totally works!

I’ve been a philanthropist ever since.


Help! The Scrap Exchange Needs YOU!

Visit the Scrap Exchange website for full details on our fundraiser, or to make a tax-deductible, online donation through PayPal or Network for Good.

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