The Giving Journey series highlights individuals' journeys into philanthropy to show and celebrate that giving is for everyone. If you'd like to contribute your personal giving journey, please let us know at [email protected].
I believe it's important to talk about giving, to share how much it is okay to not know everything, and still encourage one another to reflect on their values, and give back within their capacities. I'm sharing my personal journey into giving here in the hopes that it helps people reflect upon their giving journeys.
Before Every.org, I had not financially donated to nonprofits much. Being raised by extremely frugal grandparents who saved everything from old, hand-shaved pencils to plastic cups, money was not something we gave away lightly. (Of course, my grandmother made sure we tithed to our small church.) However, my grandma volunteered her time a lot. She picked up boxes of nearly expired food from Korean food companies like Pulmuone and drove them 70 miles from Cerritos to Temecula on her Saturdays.
I volunteered a lot during high school through organizations like Red Cross. It was a supremely enriching experience to participate in and learn what it takes to operate programs like the CPR training days. It's also a ton of fun, like doing a fire safety puppet show to this banger. That's all to say that volunteering is amazing, and I thank nonprofits for giving that opportunity to awkward, inexperienced high schoolers.
For a long while after that, I didn't donate or volunteer very regularly. I was laser-focused on finishing school and getting enough money to provide for my family. When I was fortunate enough to reach that goal, I looked back and realized that there was just so much luck involved in my success. Much, much more than I thought. I know many people along the way who worked just as hard but were not so lucky. It was just not fair. The rose-colored glasses I wore while looking at the world shattered. I learned so much more about the broader world and was at times overwhelmed about how much inequity there is. It was a wake up call after being very naively optimistic my whole life. I remember asking Rahul one night, "How do you stay woke when it hurts so much?"
At the same time, I was deeply inspired by many of my peers who were taking a more intentional, proactive path to relating with this difficult truth. Mark (our CEO) in particular, was someone that I admired— he was so freaking smart, rode a unicycle, and also was a fantastic problem set partner to pull all-nighters with. He's also been giving 10% of his money to charity forever, and I really respected that.
So in all the idealism in the world, Mark roped Rahul, Omar, and I from our cozy tech jobs into building a universal basic income cryptocurrency with him. After that, we met Garrett and Vítor, along with the amazing people at Expa. We were able to build Every.org together, something that had a tangible, immediate impact: connecting givers and nonprofits through a joyful and social experience (which was something I loved to work on at Snapchat), while bringing the best technology to nonprofits.
I'm still at the very beginning of my giving journey. I only started giving financially to charity on a regular basis since I started working on Every.org. Still, I'm so thankful to be able to work in the nonprofit space, and for all those who are patiently teaching me more and more. I keep learning about cool initiatives like Community Centric Fundraising and Effective Altruism. And as a Reactive Giver, I find myself just giving more often, whether it's as an outlet, a method for gratitude, and to enrich myself. Along with setting up a few monthly donations for the first time (which I previously didn't do for worry of a barrage of physical mailers), I find myself giving more habitually.
People are having these amazing conversations out there. About solutions to the world's greatest problems. People are researching and living their working lives for the good of society. And it’d be amazing to spread their wisdom and messages. That is very inspiring, and I want to support in the ways I can.
If you'd like to contribute your personal giving journey, please let us know at [email protected].