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Which of these describes you?

Be Selfish, Give More.

Posted by: Giving Sum
Posted: January 26, 2012
Categories: Uncategorized

by Mary Catharine Grau

Remember the Friends episode when Phoebe and Joey get into an argument about whether or not a good deed can be completely selfless? (No? I sum it up in the footnote below.)  While theirs was an argument about whether it was possible to do a good deed and not feel good about it, I’ll make it one of semantics, and say that I’m with Phoebe. Selfless is defined as “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own; unselfish.” Feeling good about your actions doesn’t mean the act wasn’t done in with someone else’s needs and wishes in mind before yours. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if you’re truly concerned about others, then of course you find joy in helping them. It only makes sense.

But, does it really matter? Community service and philanthropy have boundless benefits. First and foremost are the lasting benefits it has on the lives of others and in our community. Making our community a better place to live by feeding one person or helping create an art program for a group of people to experience enrichment benefits the quality of life of all of us here in Indianapolis. On a micro level, it’s pretty good for the person taking part on the service side as well. It may warm your heart, make you smile, or think a little differently. It may provide a satisfied feeling of being part of something that’s bigger than you. You meet new people and mak friends with those who have an interest and community concern similar to yours. Truthfully, the benefits to your professional life aren’t bad either.

If we’re being honest – and why not? – there are professional benefits for getting involved with a cause, joining a board, giving to an organization, volunteering. It’s not only the old “it looks good on your resume” stock answer. It’s great networking. You meet people at volunteer and charitable events that you may never run into during the day. The shared appreciation for the cause begins the relationship in a different, more honest place with greater possibility. Personally, my professional life was altered tremendously because of service. I credit the Tonic Ball for my current job – which I love. Without serving on the event committee, I’m not sure that I would have reconnected with Ken Honeywell at Well Done Marketing and found an opportunity I love. Second Helpings was the reason I was there, but this sure was a nice perk. (The event is outstanding; pencil it in on the Friday before Thanksgiving.)

And while we’re being honest, we may say that the thousands of people volunteering for the Super Bowl aren’t only doing it to create a warm, welcoming environment for our out-of-town guests. It’s not only because the city needs incredible manpower to pull this off. Those are great reasons, and likely the spirit of our volunteers. But, IT’S THE SUPER BOWL! Of course we want to volunteer – it’s super cool, and it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The fact that this spirit and desire to be a part of something bigger has created huge opportunities for our city – especially on the near east-side — and it’s set to elevate the reputation of our city nationwide. That's pretty cool too.

It’s human nature to seek out happiness, joy, and love. Achieving that through contribution to others, surely increases our frequency and willingness to volunteer, to give, and to be a part of service organizations. I hope that no good deed is completely selfless. We’ll make them a part of our lives more regularly if they aren’t.


Mary Catharine Grau is Business Development Director at Well Done Marketing and unofficial cheerleader for Punchnels.com. She is a board member of Giving Sum and serves as the organization’s Marketing Chair and serves as a Starfish Mentor, on the Tonic Ball committee, on the Day Spring Nursery Race into Reading committee, and as a St. Thomas Aquinas Sunday School teacher. A native Hoosier, Mary Catharine and her husband, Tony, live in Broad Ripple and can often be founding riding bikes around the city.  Giving Sum is a membership organization that engages Indy young professionals in the community through volunteering, education, FUN, and a $50,000 annual grant. Members actively partner with the annual grant recipient – through evaluation of grants to determine the partner and by volunteering throughout the following year to execute the grant and contribute to the organization. Learn more at www.givingsum.org.


* Friends, Season 5, Episode 4 Storyline Summary: Joey doesn’t believe in a selfless good deed. Phoebe does. Joey’s working a PBS telethon, because he thinks it’s an acting gig. To prove her point she donates money to the telethon even though she hates PBS – Sesame Street never wrote her back when she was a child. Joey ends up on TV because of her donation. Then, Phoebe feels good, and Joey’s proves his point.

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