Starting October 1, I will give $100 to a stranger every day for the month. I have some ideas about how I will go about this, but it is still taking shape in my mind and I hope I’ll be open to shifting as I go.

I recognize we can never anticipate (and certainly not control) all the consequences of even our best-intended actions. I am bothered by the possibility that I could kill someone with my kindness. What if a heroin user overdoses as the result of a $100 windfall?

On the other hand, how many countless times have I consciously turned away from an obvious need?  How many people have I walked blindly past, when even a couple of bucks might have made all the difference?

Have you given a gift (monetary or otherwise) and found out that it did much more good than you had hoped? Or harm that you never anticipated? Keep the stories coming!

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3 Responses to Unintended Consequences

  1. It is often impossible to know whether a gift has had impact on the recipient, especially if the gift is cash. Money for tsunami relief – hard to know.

    Here in Fiji, if I give cash, it is likely to be regifted to a church or used for everyday living, so I avoid that.

    I’ve had more success with very targeted giving of ‘things’ and my time instead of cash. One beekeeeper that I gave queen-rearing equipment to is successfully raising hundreds of queens — impossible without my gift. I’ve volunteered time to train many beekeepers who are selling honey today, so that’s been wildly successful.

    My most successful gift-giving was a present (not charity giving) to my parents in Oakland NJ more than 25 years ago: Their very first automatic garage door opener. They used it every day for 20 years. Many times they told me it’s the best gift they ever received.

    I think giving is at least as rewarding as receiving.


    • I love this, and I love thinking about all the bees and honey you have sent out into the world. It is interesting that you avoid making gifts that will be used for everyday living. I want to think about that some more. Thanks for following along!!

      • Yeah, I prefer to give enduring physical assets. A musical instrument to a talented poor person, or glasses to someone who could never afford it themselves — those would be good gifts in my thinking (I’ve done neither).

        Sometimes I view a gift as an investment. Not an investment where I expect a return, but one that might result in an even greater gain for the recipient down the road of life.

        For instance, I paid for a Fijian girl’s education for several years in hopes she would break out of poverty. It didn’t turn out that way, but I tried.


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