What is Gift Economy?

Good question.  It’s a concept in development. One great definition of the gift economy was given by Dr. Aumatma Shah, founder of the Karma Clinic in Berkeley, CA,

The gift economy represents a shift from

consumption to contribution,

transaction to trust,

scarcity to abundance and

isolation to community.

In the non-profit world we are used to free as a concept in a world in which almost everything is transactional “I will only give you x if you promise to give me y”.

But gifting is different.

It involves reciprocity – going to and fro between a group of people (the root words are re and pro, back and forth). It recognizes and honors that we do, in fact, need one another and the earth we inhabit and we are not independent separate beings. Gifting honors and celebrates our interconnectedness and our natural inclination to love one another.  We all know the nourishing joy of giving gifts and sharing our talents with friends and family. The act of giving is unifying because it reminds us of who we are.

We are used to giving within a trusted circle but creating a gift economy asks us to acknowledge our utter dependence upon one another and expand our circle of compassion to include our global family. This may sound naive but it is grounded in awareness of global financial, political, and ecological trends that are inviting us to shift how we perceive and relate to one another.

We can infuse our monetary transactions with  nurturing values rather than feel shackled by them. We can create communities of trust and generosity in which we share. And these two, values-driven money economy and gift economy, can be integrated and live harmoniously side-by-side. Our current economic, political, and ecological circumstances are calling on us to dream a different dream of what the real world looks like.

To learn more about the gifting model check out the videos of Dr. Aumatma Shaw and Charles Eisenstein, pioneers working to reintroduce our culture to the power of the gift. I’ll also be writing more about it on my blog as my journey unfolds.

There are some great articles about creating a gift economy at the following links.

Charles Eisenstein on Sacred Economics and The Gift Economy

You can see more of Charles Eisenstein‘s work here.

The Gift Economy Model by Dr. Aumatma Shaw http://binalshah.wordpress.com/the-karma-clinic-model/

The movie “Craigslist Joe” is a great example of the gift economy. A documentary about a young man survives without money or using personal contacts for 31 days depending entirely on the generosity of people who he connects with on Craigslist. Its a great example of trusting in human’s innate generosity and the power of asking and be willing to receive.

Sacred Giving and Receiving


37 Ways to Join the Gift Economy


Inspired Philanthropy Models Grounded in Trust, Generosity, and Interconnection

Flow Funding infuses trust, discovery and adventure into the funding process. It can be an innovative form of philanthropy which encourages money to flow spontaneously through the hands of new funders. Through Flow Funding, the number of philanthropists increase in the world by empowering social innovators, healers and visionaries to give away money. The concept of Flow Funding stemmed from a quest to democratize philanthropy and explore innovative ways to give away money.

Trustosity. What happens when philanthropy becomes peer-to-peer, when power shifts from the center to the edges, when innovation comes from the bottom-up, when donors and recipients co-create social change, what happens?  We don’t know, but we’re about to find out.

Some Things That Give Me Goosebumps or Make Me Cry or Remind Me What I’m Up To

Beautiful video of Jennifer Berezen‘s recording of In these Arms, a Song for All Beings based on the practices of lovingkindness and compassion. It begins with the words that will resonate with people who use their life to create a more beautiful world.

“I cannot turn my eyes, I cannot count the cost of all that has been broken, all that has been lost. I cannot understand the suffering that life brings, the war, hate, and hunger and a million other things. When I’ve done all that I can, and I try to do my part, let sorrow be the doorway in to an open heart. And the light on the hill is full of mercy, the wind in the trees it comes to save me, the silence it will never desert me, I long to hold the whole world in these arms….” followed by a long and beautiful chant.

Beyonce singing “I Was Here” at the UN – a beautiful performance that gives voice to the eternal everpresent love that we can each presence through our conscious choices and actions – some days I need reminding.

Video from KarmaTube

J.K. Rowling on the Benefits of Failure – she shares her hard-won lesson that she deems “worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”

Chameli Ardagh on The Fierce Face of the Feminine - on how to allow for a natural response towards injustice without creating more hurt.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing and Creativity - on the inner genius within us all.

Dr. Brene Brown on Wholeheartedness