How a Hundred Dollar Gift to a Thousand Nonconformists Inspired me to raise $5000 for Charity:Water

My $100 for Charity Water

The Newmark Theater was packed for the closing session of the second annual World Domination Summit early July in Portland, Oregon. As I glanced around me it was clear every one of the exactly one thousand seats was filled. After final speaker J.D. Roth presented, Chris Guillebeau took the stage to deliver the official send-off.

I tuned-out for a bit as he recapped the brief history of the World Domination Summit (WDS), newly minted but a year prior, and much unlike its name having more to do with conscious evolution, world peace, individual courage and “love domination” than what most people tend to associate with the words “world domination”. Guillebeau, a writer, blogger, entrepreneur and traveler extraordinaire, had created the event to unite nonconformists like him passionate about living a remarkable life in a conventional world.

He wildly succeeded, doubling the event in size from 500 to 1,000 people between its inaugural run in 2011 and its second time out in 2012. While he continued recapping the opportunities that had arisen and the many additional decisions that needed to be made in planning the second WDS, at which I sat, he began to tell the story of an anonymous donor. Despite being approached by numerous corporations, organizations and individuals alike, Chris and his team had made a firm decision that WDS would be entirely sponsor-free: no big brands, no speaker pitches, no logo fests; you get the idea. Despite knowing that, an individual wishing to remain anonymous had approached Chris and insisted on giving him $100,000 to use toward WDS 2012 in the way Chris deemed best with no expectations in return.

By then I was fully tuned back in, paying sharp attention to Chris’ story and beginning to notice murmurs throughout the audience, like the woman next to me gasping, then choking up in tears, muttering “Oh my god” under her breath in disbelief. I was slow on the uptake; she was way ahead of me having connected the dots between Chris’ story and what was coming next.

And what came next was, in a word – seismic – something I’ve never seen in my forty-seven years (although Oprah has come close) and achingly hope to see again in a lot less than forty-seven more.

To an audience of one thousand raving fans sitting in varying degrees of disbelief, bewilderment and shock, Chris announced what we had decided to do with the donated $100,000. He was giving it away to all one thousand of us. He was paying it massively forward.

That photo above? That’s my $100 along with the directive for each of us graced with this gift of enormous, heart-opening magnitude. In the moment, all I could do was join my seatmate in tears of joy, speechless as I received my individual envelope and exited the theater along with everyone else.

To describe the emotion of being in that moment would take a much longer post than I want this to be and is largely beyond the ability of words to do justice anyway. Suffice it to say, the shift it triggered in me was quantum. Despite what others might do with their $100, I knew in my case I couldn’t let it accomplish merely its face value in good. I needed more.

I needed it to be a catalyst, a seed, a spark that could somehow spread like wildfire, multiply and develop a life of its own. I needed it to be a child that would grow and flourish in the same spirit with which it was given birth and inspire not merely additional, but limitless generations of “pay if forward” opportunity.

Throughout my weekend at WDS 2012, I’d been contemplating ways to step things up with The Accidental Seeker and largely came up stuck. Stuck because most everything I could think of depended on being able to reach a much larger captive audience than I then had – so how to build readership? Subscribers? You see, although I haven’t shared this publicly yet, I want this to be much more than a platform for a burgeoning writer. I want it to be my purpose, my livelihood, and a community to and for all kindred spirits. I want it to have a mission.

At last, in those final moments of WDS, what hit me was not only how I’d use my $100, but also how I could leverage it to accomplish my desired growth goals as well.

What I’m Doing with my WDS $100

One of the first and most powerful WDS 2012 speakers was Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water. For those who’ve never heard of the organization, it’s a non-profit whose mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

Why water? Because a BILLION people on the planet don’t have safe, clean drinking water, and because having it changes everything. It means women and children don’t have to spend hours per day walking miles to the nearest source of clean water. It means time, freedom, opportunity, health and education. With basic needs like water met, it means the chance for people to move beyond surviving into thriving.

Water is elemental, as fundamental to life as spirit. What better alignment could there be for The Accidental Seeker? What simpler way to impact the very essence of physical life so that spiritual life can flourish?

Yes, philanthropies abound but this one spoke to me. Plus the fact that every penny of the money raised in my campaign will go directly to fund clean water projects put it head and shoulders above many other causes.

So I used my $100 from Chris Guillebeau as seed money for the Accidental Seekers for Water Campaign running between my forty-seventh birthday on October 6 and the end of the year. The campaign has two goals:

1) to raise $5,047 for Charity:Water and

2) to grow awareness and readership of The Accidental Seeker. Because you see, for every new person who subscribes to the blog by email, I’ll donate an additional $1, kicking-in up to $5,000 of my own money.

My hope/wish/dream? That together – with your participation and my own additional funding – we’ll reach (if not double!) the $5,047 goal I’ve set by the end of the year.

Where You Come In

Whether this post inspires you, you firmly believe in charity:water, or you just want to spare me massive public humiliation, please consider one of these ways to participate:

1) If you’re not already a subscriber, sign up for free blog updates from The Accidental Seeker by visiting www.accidentalseeker.com (if you’re reading this on the blog already see the upper right corner). There is NO risk of spam and your information is kept strictly private. Plus when you subscribe you receive a free guide called Seven Simple Steps Into Happiness as my gift to you.

2) Donate to the Accidental Seekers for Water Campaign. Any amount is welcome.

3)  Help spread word of this campaign by telling your friends, colleagues, family members, groups and social media communities about the campaign and sharing links to The Accidental Seeker with those for whom it you feel the blog will resonate.

Stepping things up and paying them forward doesn’t end here. There will be plenty for new and existing Accidental Seeker subscribers and readers to look forward to in the coming months, including weekly blog updates on the campaign’s progress, interviews with some of my favorite people from WDS 2012, and a new site design.

Indulge me a moment to get real and confess that I am, frankly, scared sh**less by this. I’ve never made a public declaration so big. Hey, it might crash and burn, or I might have to come up with $5,000 in a couple of months. Either prospect takes me out of my comfort zone. I attended WDS in July. It’s taken me this long to work up the courage and clarity to launch.

But as I learned a few months ago, your experience cannot exceed your willingness to be vulnerable. Your capacity to be open-hearted cannot exceed your willingness to be broken-hearted.  Living a remarkable life in a conventional world is not for the faint of heart. And so I go.

Curious about WDS 2013? It’s doubling in size again I’ll be there. Tickets are on sale now; visit the WDS event site here to learn more.