I’ve noticed lately that there is a trend toward creating small businesses, working mostly for oneself, and generally starting a lot of new projects. Whether these projects are non-profits meant to benefit the community or businesses meant to benefit with money, I see people wanting the luxury of exercising full control over their enterprises. Sure, the blame is there too, but people seem to be excited to take credit and all the benefits from the things they start.
Much of the media attention and notoriety in my small city goes to people who started something: a non-profit agency, a business, a new city program. There are very few ways in which “serial joiners” like me and Husband are recognized. This is fine, but it is interesting. Serial joiners, as I define it, are people who join forces with those who start new initiatives rather than adding to the initiatives themselves.
My perception is that, as our city starts to prosper with a lot of momentum but few solid results so far, we don’t just need new initiatives. We need more joiners. We need people who will show up for the meeting, take the survey, give two hours to the volunteer project, and go home afterwards. These people seem to give less, but they also get less: no one writes about the regular old members in the newspaper. However, without a strong base of people who are willing to donate 20 dollars, the campaign never gets funded.
Lately, I’ve really been interested in how people do little things – sure, it’s wonderful to get the $10,000 grant, but how often do you put $10 toward a project you care about rather than buying a burrito or a new lipstick or a phone case? I’m interested, more than ever, in the many ways that individuals make small contributions, because I really believe we get farther when many people band together behind the ideas of those around them than we do when we each are angling for our own slice of big-idea fame.
So I’m challenging myself this week to find 3 important, interesting projects/businesses/non-profits that could use my small-impact support, and I’m going to do what I have to do (volunteer, donate, or just show up). Is there a way that you can do the same thing? We probably won’t be recognized for it, but when big things happen, we’ll know that we had a tiny part in it.