Commentary and conversations about life in Richmond, Indiana


Retiring the “kind army” experiment

I’m concluding the KIND.ARMY experiment that I started in April 2018, where every month I made a few hundred dollars available to fund an act of kindness somewhere in our city. As I said when I launched the project:

Philanthropic giving is one way I “stay involved” even when I’m too busy to do as much directly myself as I have in the past. I like supporting other people who bring their own ideas for community improvement out in the open and act on them. And lately I’ve been thinking about how to provide some balance to all of the meanness, selfishness and conflict that pervades public life our country. So today I’m launching an experiment that I hope will encourage people to bring their best ideas to the table, and act on them. And not just any kind of community improvement ideas; I’m looking to spark new and creative acts of kindness for the simple sake of spreading kindness itself.

April 2018

Since then I received nine “act of kindness” idea submissions and distributed $950 to ideas selected for funding. (I also had a few folks send in funds to help increase the distribution pool available – thank you!) Funded acts included support for Little Free Libraries, an employee appreciation luncheon, a Friendship Day event, and more.

The KIND.ARMY website.

Even though I’m pleased with the interest that was generated, I was hoping that the project would catch on more than it did. I haven’t received any idea submissions since August 2018, and so I’ve found other projects and opportunities to sponsor instead as one way to keep encouraging innovation and creativity here.

The lackluster project result does make some sense. I did close to zero marketing, thinking that, well, free money might speak for itself. I had a number of folks tell me they had ideas they’d send my way, but never did. As someone who thought this up in part because I didn’t personally have enough time to do as much hands-on community work as I’d wanted, I can understand that folks might sometimes be too busy even for acts of kindness and free money.

Another interpretation might be that the challenges and hardships people in our community face don’t easily lend themselves to a single act of kindness, funded or not.

I appreciate everyone who participated in some form or another, submitting ideas, carrying out projects, sending in funds, spreading the word, and more. Thank you.

I have some other ideas for community improvement experiments like this in the works; more soon!

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