Birthdays have a special meaning in the lives of every human being I have ever encountered. Each birthday is a way to reset the clock, even if it is ticking faster than some of us would prefer, birthdays are a way to bring hope and happiness, a gaze into the future, a peek into the past, and a reminder of our existence. It makes most of us feel special. Most of us have families and friends who send across flowers, sweets, greetings, a bottle of bubbly perhaps and if you are very lucky, you may also receive Soulflower hampers from those who know how to treat you right!
We are indeed lucky to have near and dear ones post on our social media and really amplify our special day to the world as we know it. Of course we never forget to thank all of our real and digital friends and the Almighty! As a result, it brings me to those human beings who are less fortunate to have what we do. Orphans, underprivileged children, children with special needs and those who reside in homes for the aged - people who perhaps have random visitors or perhaps don't even remember their birthdays anymore.
I stand for kindness. I run a fast paced retail business. I am a foodie. I travel. I have thousands of followers on social media and twice as many real life friends. Indeed, God didn't spare any luxuries while blessing me. He also blessed me, I would like to believe, with special people who work with me to spread kindness in our little way.
The secret to spreading kindness is to pledge and recruit as many people as possible to engage in your program of kindness. People, regardless of age, sex, religion, social status, marital status, educational and professional status - all tend to migrate towards being a part of something that spreads kindness. After all, if we can give them a chance to participate in spreading kindness within 3 minutes, who wouldn't?
So here is what we did. We know we could reach millions of consumers in India because they subscribe to our emails, updates and buy our products. We also have their birthdays on file. We have been wishing our customers a very Happy Birthday for many years. What we have done now is a little different. We have included a #CallToAction. Actually, let me rephrase it.
We have included a # CallToKindness
We simply wish them on their birthdays, which mathematically breaks down to hundreds of customers every day. We then ask them if they would like to be kind on their birthday. No one ever has had a less than positive reaction to this particular question. As their answer is "yes", we request them to send us a personal note to one underprivileged child who will receive something useful on our customer's behalf. The customer pays nothing. Soulflower sponsors the birthday gift. The customer has to write a personalized note which will be included in the gift and delivered to one child!
The concept has caught on like wild fire. It is such a touching gesture no matter on whose behalf you view the initiative from. From our end, we are spreading happiness. From our customer's point of view, they are touching a child's life on their very special day. For the child receiving a soup bowl or a blanket or a chalk and slate, he or she is just happy to receive a surprise gift to say the very least. In India, where kindness is so deeply woven into culture and karma dictates every action, corporates must and should activate the "giving to poor" sentiment in every possible way in the communities they operate within.
Perhaps if corporates and governments collaborate to start #GiveToIndia initiative, we can #GiftASmile to every Indian.
Just yesterday, our client called us back to say "Please add more money from my end to gift more children". She had already sent a message for a child but she did not want to stop there. She was so emotional and overwhelmed by our gesture that she offered to pay to gift more children. Of course we did not accept her money but we did follow through her wish of kindness. Why? Because who has ever become poor by giving? Not givers. Not the receivers. And definitely not the corporates. Should we stop here? I think not.