Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bill Clinton: Giving

I recently finished reading Bill Clinton's book, titled Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World. Throughout the book, Clinton shares a variety of examples of how people can give money, time, things, or skills to a variety of causes. He talks of causes both domestic and global in nature, and he touches on education, the environment, health, children's issues, etc. In many ways, it's sort of a Giving 101 introductory course, in that Clinton touches on numerous subjects without exhausting any of them.

Clinton does a reasonable job of emphasizing others' accomplishments over his own, though he rightly highlights the work of The William J. Clinton Foundation, which includes initiatives for HIV/AIDS, global development, the climate, and health. Though I don't believe he mentions this in his book, Clinton's foundation received Charity Navigator's highest 4 Star Rating, based on its financial capacity and efficiency in carrying out its work.

I especially like one of Clinton's final paragraphs in the book:

Will giving make you happier? You'll have to answer that for yourself. When I was in Africa with Bill and Melinda Gates, watching them talk to villagers whose lives they had improved, they seemed happy. When I saw young Brianne Schwantes risk more broken bones in her fragile body to help people in the Mississippi flood, she seemed happy. When I watched John Bryant light up the eyes of poor kids with talk of how they could have different lives, he seemed happy. When I met Oseola McCarty after she gave her life savings so that young people could have the education she never had, she seemed happy. When Carlos Slim looked at a crowd of ten thousand young people he'd sent to college, he seemed happy...

I definitely believe giving makes people happier. I would recommend Clinton's book to people who would like to make a greater difference in the world but don't know how. Clinton's examples are diverse enough that most people should gather ideas on what they specifically can do to change the world.

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