Random acts of kindness pays dividends

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jesslee Cuizon

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jesslee Cuizon

Three times the fun
Jessica, Terri, and Karen teamed up. Researching area charities, they discovered a group supporting homeless vets, where they decided to donate part of their money. Karen was amazed at how much the donation was valued. “We want to know who you are, to acknowledge the gift” the recipient repeated. “It’s an anonymous random act of kindness,” Karen told her – a behavior that, for all the buzz there is around the concept, still remains a mystery to folks on the receiving end of one.

Next stop, a salon offering inexpensive haircuts. Terri asked the owner to give the next person who came in a free haircut, and handed him enough money to cover that with tip. “I see, for next one,” the owner said, “but I cut your hair for free now.” Both were trying to do random acts and laughed over the joint confusion that caused.

The ladies then bought three plants. After slipping a parking attendant an extra $5 (“to pay for the car behind us”), they went to a hospital reception area. Our trio asked the woman attendant to please give the flowers where they were most needed. “When she understood our mission, she was no longer a gatekeeper – she was in on the fun.” Terri reported. “She obviously was excited to be a part of this experiment and to help us spread joy.”

Found money
Tom wanted to support the working man or woman with an unexpected and unacknowledged spiff, so he hopped from coffee shop to restaurant to outdoor vendors. Five times he put a fiver in the tip jar without asking for service – great examples of hit-and-run kindness.

Carol also converted her money into five $5 bills. At a public library branch, she scanned the displays to see the hottest titles in juvenile literature and then tucked a $5 bill in five books with those titles. “I loved the idea of a child finding loot in a library book,” she beamed. “It teaches them that it pays to read!”

Jan went to a Wal-Mart store and spied a young family counting out money in a bank envelope as they considered grocery items. She handed the father $25, and tried to explain, through a language barrier, the Random Acts of Kindness experiment. The family literally hugged her after he translated for them what was happening.

Paul considered helping the homeless or people needing bus transfers, but while having dinner at a pub, he saw notice of a benefit for a girl who was abandoned in China at age 2. She was adopted by two U.S. women, one who later died of breast cancer, the other of lung cancer. The child now needed a college fund and Paul contributed.

If you visited a Wisconsin state park recently, you might have been the lucky beneficiary of Sarah’s decision to tell the park salesman to give the next person who appeared before him a free $25 park pass for the season. He, too, wanted to know who she was and why she was doing it, and he seemed excited to be in on the adventure.

These are just a few accounts of how $400 was put to work in one community, $25 at a time. The employees were fascinated with their coworkers’ thoughtfulness and creativity, and the announcement that we would make the outing an annual event was met with loud applause and whistles. The ROI on that company investment – in terms of employee loyalty and shoring up our internal brand value — was priceless.

What could your employees do with $25?

Did this give you any ideas for a fun outing with your employees? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the section below or by reaching out to us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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