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Giving is the new taking….

There are precious few examples of corporations ditching the greed and embracing generosity. President Obama’s speah highlighted a CEO who distributed his bonus across his workers (past and present) – who does that??? (a true leader) And what an incredible example for the larger companies to follow.

Countless individuals have already started giving, of course: giving is the new taking, and sharing is the new giving. How can you really afford not to spend some time figuring out how to get a little closer to your customers?

Generosity as a leading societal and business mindset. As consumers are disgusted with greed and its current dire consequences for the economy—and while that same upheaval has them longing more than ever for institutions that care—the need for more generosity beautifully coincides with the ongoing (and pre-recession) emergence of an online-fueled culture of individuals who share, give, engage, create and collaborate in large numbers.

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In fact, for many, sharing a passion and receiving recognition have replaced ‘taking’ as the new status symbol. Businesses should follow this societal/behavioral shift, however much it may oppose their decades-old devotion to me, myself and I.”

Some themes contributing to the new giving climate:

- Consumer Disgust

The current financial meltdown has led consumers to be more disgusted than ever (if that’s even possible) with greedy corporate execs who just don’t care.

Some fun (US) stats from Reputation Garage:

  • As few as 13% of all Americans place their trust in big business (and it’s not much higher for other mature consumer societies!).
  • Only 39% of employees in a Watson Wyatt survey said they trusted senior leadership.
  • Some three-quarters of US consumers feel that companies don’t tell the truth in advertising.
  • Three-quarters of employees in big companies observed violations of the law or company standards in a 12-month period.

- Longing for institutions that care

And yet…the need for the opposite of greed (that would be generosity!) is never greater than in challenging times. Challenging times see people craving care, empathy, sympathy and generosity.

-Giving as the new taking

Rich People (Gates, Buffet, Bono); Any Individual

I’m talking the collaborative / free / creation / crowdsourced / gift / sharing movement* that—especially online—has unlocked in entirely new ways the perennial need of individuals to be appreciated, to be loved, to feel part of the greater good, to contribute, to help… To basically find status and gratification in something other than consuming the most or the best.

-Giving doesn’t mean giving it away for free

Being generous to customers doesn’t always mean giving away everything you have. You shouldn’t forget about bottom lines and profitability. Giving can be about being a bit kinder, a bit more caring towards your customers.

What are some ways you are being kinder to your customers?

About the Author: Christine Haskell

Christine is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft with several years experience in the .com industry. She recently started social venture labs, an idea incubator for those leading small mission-driven businesses or organizations looking to create relationships, share ideas and [...]

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