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Part 5- Altruism & Procrastination

“For St. Augustine the social order lay in the teachings of Christ. For Hobbes it lay in the sovereign. For Rousseau it lay in solitude. For Lenin it lay in the party. They were all wrong. The roots of social order are in our heads, where we possess the instinctive capacities for creating not a perfectly harmonious and virtuous society, but a better one than we have at present. We must build our institutions in such a way that they draw out those instincts… and trust is the foundation of virtue.” –Matt Ridley Although, in these most difficult of financial times brought upon us in part by our great banking institutions, we may find our cushion of personal funds to be extremely low and leave us no room for mistakes or niceties life has to offer we, as a nation, still find it in our hearts to be able to donate 2.2% of the value of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product to charity ($307.65 Billion in 2008). And contrary to popular belief, 75% or $229.28 Billion came from individuals, not corporations and government. In fact, only 5% came from corporations, the same corporations which chose to keep your unused funds from gift cards. Altruism seems to be an inherent trait within us that can be lost or magnified depending on our upbringing. Teach a child to be selfish and as an adult he’ll hoard every penny and benefit no one; teach a child to share and as an adult he’ll be one of the great benefactors of our future, one who through donations of time and money will assist in reshaping our planet for the advancement of allkind! Of all the definitions and explanations of altruism I have read Kristen Monroe has summed it up the most concise when she explained altruism as, “behavior intended to benefit another, even when doing so may risk or entail some sacrifice to the welfare of the actor”. She then went on to define 4 characteristics of altruism, “…first, it entails action; second, the goal of the act furthers the welfare of another; third, intentions count more than consequences; and fourth, the act diminishes the welfare of the altruistic agent.” I whole heartedly agree with the first three; first one must begin to do something, second, it should help another or a cause which benefits many, third, it doesn’t matter how much you give it just matters that you do give because a lot of people giving a small amount adds up fast. As for the fourth characteristic I totally disagree, especially since in most altruistic acts there is some form of indirect reciprocity, the giver benefits is one way or another, whether now or later, whether with money or friendship or vanity (bragging rights) or just that “warm glow” feeling. And, when using a Matter Of Change card, there is no monetary loss to the giver, the funds which don’t get used and are traditionally “donated” back to the banks, corporations, or government will be actually donated to the giver’s charity of choice benefiting someone, somewhere (and providing the giver with a tax receipt if applicable)! On procrastination much research has been done yet for the general public it is mostly misunderstood. The general consensus seems to be that if you are given a longer span of time to complete a task the more likely it is that the task will be completed, this is actually the reverse, even when dealing with enjoyable tasks! One experiment showed that individuals given gift certificates with a two week expiration date had a 31% redemption rate as opposed to those given the same gift certificates with a 2 month expiration date which had a 6% redemption rate. Similar research has shown that when individuals see an offer with a longer expiration date their level of satisfaction rises yet they are less likely to respond to those offers. Armed with this information and the new CARD Act, which will take effect in August 2010 which almost completely eliminates expiration dates from gift/prepaid cards, we are left to surmise that the consumer will see these cards as much more attractive but ultimately leave even more than the usual 8% - 14% of their value unused thereby benefiting the companies, banks, and government with an even larger amount of unused funds to split between them! Is someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes by leading us to believe this is for our benefit, in our best interest? I leave that for you to answer! Let me know what you think and how you feel. Remember, every opinion counts, we actually ARE building this card for your benefit and the benefit of everyone in our ever expanding global society!

Darren Cannao President/Founder, Matter Of Change Darren@MatterOfChange.com