Driving home from teaching my class as an adjunct at a nearby university, I pulled into a McDonalds to pick-up a treat for the two family members awaiting my arrival.
"May I take your order?"
"Yes, hello, I'd like two Shamrock shakes please."
"Okay, yes, and would you like to contribute a dollar to ______ charity to help ______ in need?"
"Oh, wow, thanks for asking - that's awesome, but, no, not tonight, I appreciate it."
And I watched my total go from $7.98 to $8.98 as I pulled around to the first window.
I guess the voice over the drive-thru speaker thought, 'No one uses that many words and is so nice to say no.'
I didn't want to give the donation - not even the one dollar adding less than 13% of my total. Not because I don't like charities - I've worked for nonprofits for years, helped start them, and led majors campaigns raising multi-million dollar revenues at resort events to help the poor on the other side of the world.
But I didn't want to give this dollar. I don't think that random giving does much but ease guilt temporarily and manipulate people into doing the minimum thinking they're changing the world, right?!
So I paid the total due $8.98, took my two Shamrock shakes, and drove home.
After the 'thank you's' from my family, I sat down to find out what I could about this charity I'd given my one dollar thanks to a McDonalds misunderstanding.
And when I landed on the charity's homepage I was greeted with this: "Thank you for giving!"
How did they know?
They didn't, but they wanted me and everyone who found them to be called generous - a giver to something good because they are (I'm!) generous.
Now, I remember working for two organizations who were managed (not led, but managed) by a stingy C-Suite.
They complained about credit card fees for donations, refused land because of attorney's fees, and refused to include postage asking donors to "Save us money."
They refused to call people donors, supporters, partners, or givers who, and I quote, "Hadn't earned it."
As if these nonprofits "earned" anything by being miserly.
But my new nonprofit made me feel like I was generous - and it only took an accidental dollar (and two Shamrock shakes).
Because generosity begets generosity.