Giving Thanks by Giving Back to your Community

Paying it Forward in Community Management

While we should all be thankful throughout the year, Thanksgiving is a time that has been set aside specifically for us to reflect on all of the kindnesses that have been extended to us throughout the year and express our gratitude.

A recent study revealed that generosity can be infectious. However, in Community Association Management, it can sometimes be difficult to put into practice, so I wanted to take a few minutes this year to share with you some stories that are sure to warm your heart and maybe even give you a few ideas.

Pay it Forward

The concept of "Paying it Forward" was well documented in the book and movie by the same name. If you've never seen it, watch this preview, in which the main character, played by Haley Joel Osment, explains how the Pay it Forward concept works:

While Paying it Forward posits doing three BIG things for someone else, I propose that smaller, random acts of kindness are also highly effective. At the right time, in the right situation, even something as simple as a smile can turn someone's life around. 

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

TOPS founder Jeff Hardy recently shared with me the story of his son, who ran out of money and gas a few hundred miles away from home one Thanksgiving. While he sat on the curb looking dejected, a woman approached him and asked him what was wrong. "I ran out of gas and can't get home for the holidays." He said. She immediately pulled a 20 dollar bill out of her battered purse and handed it to him. When he asked for her name and number to repay her kindness once he got home, she responded: "That's all-right. You just give what you can give the next time you see someone in need."

Host a Free Thanksgiving Dinner

We've all heard stories of the family that invites strangers over for Thanksgiving dinner. One Community Association has taken the concept to a whole new level. The Serananc Community Association hosts an annual free Thanksgiving dinner in their community association every year.

Write an Inspirational Letter

This letter has been making the rounds on Facebook, and one of the things I absolutely love about it is the complete randomness of it. The nurse who wrote this profoundly impacted someone's life and she will never know who that person is.

Buy a Stranger a Cup of Coffee

Starbucks has begun reporting on a phenomenon they've dubbed "Paying it Backward", where a person in the drive through pays the bill for the car behind them. This month in Detroit a string of more than 50 cars kept up a train of good will.

Build Up Community Spirit

The CAI Research foundation publishes a number of helpful "Best Practices" guides for community associations. This guide on "Building Community Harmony and Spirit" gives some great ideas for ways that you can encourage community spirit among your residents by being generous together.

Pay Someone a Complement

Several years ago, Julie Adamen published an article on The Butterfly Effect - the article talks about the lasting effect of even the simplest of actions, from keeping your communities organized to paying a simple complement. (Nice shoes!)

Start a Flash Mob

It sounds a little crazy, but that is part of what makes it so amazing - take a look at this heartwarming video of an 'impromptu' symphonic performance sponsored by an Italian bank, and how it affected their community.


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