7days7gifts – part of Give India’s ‘joy of giving’ week.
Can one person really change the world? Well, as this exhibit demonstrates, he can certainly make a very good start. This is a wonderful example of how one man’s idea can motivate many. Rahul Nainwal’s 7days7gifts challenge inspired a committed community of people, who were all willing to help and to get involved. This is a scenario that is undoubtedly wished for by many a charity. The good news is that the original and innovative thinking in this exhibit can be recreated for your cause and for your supporters. Why not try it and let us know?
Medium of communication:Online.
Country of origin:India.
Rahul Nainwal and GiveIndia.
Name of exhibitor:Sattva.
Date of first appearance:September, 2009.
The ‘joy of giving’ week is an annual initiative coordinated by GiveIndia. Over the seven days, GiveIndia aims to increase social awareness and support the fundraising efforts of a wide range of charities by encouraging individuals and organisations to take up the act of giving.
One of the many ideas implemented during this week in 2009 was the 7days7gifts challenge. The idea behind this initiative was to encourage individuals to take part in random acts of kindness to those in need throughout the seven day period. The 7days7gifts campaign attracted over 100 individuals who gave away over 700 gifts over the allotted time.
The 7days7gifts appeal was created by Rahul Nainwal, the co-founder of MITRA, a charity that aims to bring skills and expertise to the development sector in India through volunteer and recruitment programmes.
Rahul has long adhered to the philosophy that focusing solely on oneself is a key cause of unhappiness. Based on this understanding, Rahul started a personal initiative called 21days21gifts. During this timeframe, Rahul pledged to make gifts to random strangers in need.
‘It’s a fantastic thing and everyone should try it. You may just get addicted to giving.’
The gifts ranged from buying a toy for a child on the road, to setting free a few parrots caged by the roadside. He documented his experiences in his blog, which soon attracted a committed group of followers across the country, some of whom decided to try the initiative themselves.
As part of the ‘joy of giving’ week, GiveIndia proposed that Rahul try the same idea for seven days. His project was publicised on the ‘joy of giving’ website and supporters were encouraged to take up the challenge alongside Rahul. By reducing it to seven days, it was felt that a lot more people would be encouraged to participate in the campaign.
Rahul created a website in which he outlined the basic rules and his motivations behind the campaign. People who took up the initiative used the website to share their experiences and also got ideas on what they could do during the seven days.
Most of the initiatives implemented during the ‘joy of giving’ week are driven by organisations or companies. The 7days7gifts challenge was unusual in that it was created and managed by an individual based on his own personal philosophy.
Rahul was able to build a community of people who were willing to take part in his initiative and help strangers with random acts of kindness. By providing a forum for them to share and communicate their experiences, he was able to inspire others to take up the challenge.
Additionally, by deliberately laying down very broad rules, Rahul made it easy for someone to participate. His website even suggested some initial ideas for people to try.
Over 100 people completed the 7days7gifts challenge, resulting in the distribution of 700 gifts. The website was used extensively to share personal experiences and continues to be updated even today with new experiences focused on the simple act of giving.
Though some participants did not complete the challenge, they did engage with new organisations and some continue to support and work with them. For example, a website called Exciting Lives that focuses on providing ideas for unusual gifts and experiences, added a page where people can give a gift to someone in need through the Make a Wish Foundation.
Costs were minimal since nothing was spent on marketing or logistics. The challenge was promoted using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Buoyed by the success of the 2009 7days7gifts campaign, Rahul is eager to repeat the project in the ‘joy of giving’ week 2010.
7days7gifts is a wonderful example of people’s ability and enthusiasm to give. By providing a broad structure and an achievable goal, Rahul was able to inspire people to look beyond themselves and see how they could inspire others. It is also a powerful example about how one individual can try to make the world a better place.