How to create a better world and start now

Pamala Wieping speaks on tonight's TEDxErasmusUniversityRotterdam

With war, terror and pressing environmental issues, a lot is wrong today. Therefore tonight’s theme of the TEDxErasmusUniversityRotterdam is how to build a better world. Eight speakers will explain how we can do that and even start now. One of them, Erasmus assistant professor at the Rotterdam School of Management, Pamala Wiepking elaborates.  

So, how can we build a better world?
‘One simple way is to start living by the values you have. If you believe in animal rights, support animal rights. If you believe every person should have equal rights, support equal rights organisations. If you believe people should be more friendly, start smiling.’

And this works?
‘Yes. You can change the world according to your own values, but you have to be aware of them. We don’t necessarily have to have the same values. Maybe climate change is your biggest concern, or maybe you would like to live in a world in which people are nicer to each other. So this is the first thing you can do: some soul-searching to find out what your personal values are.’

Is giving money to charities the only way?
‘No, giving money is not the only way. But since philanthropy is my research area, it’s my mission to make it more meaningful for all actors involved. It’s my goal to conduct and implement philanthropy research in such a way that it will enable the creation of generous societies. Generous societies are societies in which people care about each other and want to contribute to the public good, rather than take from it. A generous society is also a nicer society.’

Are Dutch people generous?
‘The generosity of a society depends on a lot of different things. In the Netherlands households give an average of €262 a year to charities, in the US €1,203 and in Russia €14. In a county like the US philanthropy and generosity are praised. Giving money to charities, non-profit organisations or art projects make people proud. So they are used to sharing and showing how much they donate. In the Netherlands we don’t like to talk about money, and we don’t talk about how much we give.’

Is this a problem?
‘If you know what your friends or neighbours are giving to help others or donating to charities, you’ll be encouraged to give as well and be more generous yourself. This creates a more generous society.’

A counter-arguments is that charities do not spent money well.
‘I think that also has to do with trust. In general I believe it’s good for you to trust. You don’t have to trust everything unthinkingly: you can ask critical questions. If you think an organization is not achieving its mission as effective as possible, engage in a conversation with them. But critical questions shouldn’t stop you from taking action. It’s not true that you cannot change the world. You can, even a very little action can make a difference. Every little contribution is a step closer towards a more generous society.’

Unfortunately tonight’s event is sold out. But you can follow the talk via live webcast. It starts at 17.00 pm.

More information

‘Why you should tell others how much you donate to charity’. Watch this video!

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