SEATTLE, Dec. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Waving a sign that says "Free Money!" on city streets around the country is a great way to meet people. But what happened next is awe-inspiring. The Life You Can Save, a non-profit dedicated to reducing poverty, has released a short video entitled "The Giving Experiment" which showcases surprising responses from strangers who were offered money with no strings attached – some of the responses prompt laughter, while others make one think.
The organization gave away $2,500 to 85 strangers in six locations (Wall Street, Crown Heights, Union Square, Santa Monica, Seattle and Austin) and those strangers donated $2,421.50 of their newfound money to charity. Eighty three people gave some or all of the money to charity, one walked away with $100, and one ran away with $1 (sadly he ran too fast to sign the appearance release form so the organization couldn't include him in the video, though it was quite the getaway!).
"We decided to flip the charity equation on its head, offering money to strangers on the street and giving them a choice: they could either keep the money (we gave away between $1 and $250 per person) or donate it to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF). We wanted to test, before our eyes, the theory that giving money away makes people happier than keeping it for themselves. Though some people struggled with the decision, nearly everyone was genuinely smiling when they finally decided to donate. A lot of money changed hands, but those who gave it right back seemed the happiest as they walked away," said Laura Gamse, Media & Outreach Director, The Life You Can Save.
Eight people contributed their own money to the AMF on top of their gifted donations. Most touching to the crew were the donors who really considered their options carefully before giving. One said that the organization's $66 gift was three times his hourly salary, but chose to give it back anyway. A teenager hanging out with his friends on Wall Street gave our $5 to AMF, and then took his last dollar out of his pocket and contributed that as well - his two friends then followed suit.
According to The Life You Can Save, three dollars purchases an insecticide-treated bed net which protects sleepers from malaria-carrying mosquitoes and increases the chances of saving lives.
"We encouraged pedestrians to use the money in the way that would make them the happiest. We asked the recipients to imagine what they would do with their cash, and suggested personal luxuries that could be enjoyed with our gift (manicures, haircuts, brunch). Some happily accepted, but the large majority of people chose to donate the money to the AMF -- and some even gave "matching grants" of their own," said Gamse.
The Life You Can Save encourages viewers to follow the link at the end of the video to play a Giving Game based on the video. Players will be able to donate $1 for every correct answer to their chosen organization from The Life You Can Save’s list of the top ten most effective charities worldwide. There’s still $9,961 left to give!
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SOURCE The Life You Can Save