Francesca Cignola - 19.03.2012
In times like these it is easy to focus on what we don't have and can't afford. Yet both individually and collectively we have more assets than we give ourselves credit for.
For example the ability to care for each other, exercised by parents, children, friends, neighbours and strangers in formal and informal contexts. A young mother helping a neighbour with their shopping, runners paying a friendly visit to elderly residents through the Good Gym and people swapping a home cooked meal for a lift to the doctor's in timebanks like Paxton Green's are all examples of how small actions can make a big difference.
Our personal and professional skills, from IT literacy to sewing, foreign languages and knowledge of the law, are all assets that can be shared, traded, exchanged and donated through a growing number of platforms, like the Timber Wharf Time Bank and Task Rabbit or LawWorks, a pro bono legal support agency. Equally valuable are our knowledge and experience and the advice we can offer to other people on raising children, putting up with a troublesome boss or setting up a business (some of the topics covered in the mentoring platform Horsesmouth).
Other non-scarce resources that can be deployed with great results are physical strength and good old elbow grease - as anyone who has ever helped a friend during a house move will know. An example of the collective power of these resources at work was the ♯riotcleanup twitter campaign, which mobilised thousands of people to clean up the streets of London in the aftermath of the August riots.
We also own things - our houses are full of them and many are often unused or underused. Through platforms like Ecomodo, Streetbank and Freecycle we can lend, exchange and gift them, making tools and resources available to people and organisations around us.
Although we live in tough economic times, most of us also have some cash to spare for a good cause. Schemes like the Pennies Foundation, which collects small change by rounding up payment transactions, and Givey, which creates seamless digital giving identities, make giving effortless and rewarding. PlayMob brings giving to gamers offering them a chance to do good while they are having fun and Timto combines giving and receiving by embedding a portion of charitable donation into online gift lists.
A review of the assets at our disposal along these lines should leave many of us pretty optimistic about the amount of resources available in our communities and about the channels and opportunities we have to make the most of them .
In developing countries where resources are scarce, communities rely for their survival on their resourcefulness and their willingness to collaborate and share. This knits societies together through relations of reciprocity and mutuality.
The privilege of having a web of institutions that look after us and provide for our basic needs might at times make us become less aware of our 'resource-fullness'. There is nothing like the opportunity to give to make us revalue what we have.
 The Innovation in Giving Fund, run by NESTA, is designed to support and foster these channels and many of the examples I mention above have been shortlisted in the first round of the Fund.
We've collated the videos from our initial call for ideas into one Vimeo channel
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