One morning, a few years ago, I received an envelope. Inside was a blank check from Ray Dalio. Also inside was a personal note saying the check was for me to give to any charity of my choice. It was incredibly moving, receiving a gift that I could use to give to others — and even more powerful because I could give it to any charity that was meaningful to me. 

That’s been Ray’s holiday gift to his friends, family and colleagues for the last 10 years. It’s a powerful way of paying it forward while creating a growing network of human connection and meaning along the way.

The only thing Ray asks of his recipients — besides experiencing the joys of giving — is that they tell him who received the donation. “It tells me about their personalities — what they care about and why,” Ray told me. “The conversations are fabulous because I get an exposure to all of those different charities.”

Since those blank check days, Ray has discovered an easier way to share the gift of charitable giving: charity gift cards. He’s also scaled up his effort to spread the word about this type of giving and is leading a campaign to #RedefineGifting. Last year, Thrive Global and I partnered with Ray to give away 20,000 $50 gift cards that could be donated to charity — and I’m excited to say we’re doing the same thing this year. Once again, there are no strings attached. The only thing we hope for is that those who receive free cards will spread the word about their experience, and then consider this type of gift for their own families, friends, clients and employees this holiday season.

The first round of the 2021 giveaway took place last week (read about here!). Those cards were claimed in just a matter of hours — but stay tuned because, like last year, there’s going to be a second round in December. Sign up at Tisbest.org/RedefineGifting for early notification of that giveaway.

I’ve been lucky enough to have received many special gifts in my life, but nothing compares to receiving the gift of giving itself. Giving is one of our most powerful well-being tools. Going beyond ourselves and stepping out of our daily worries and challenges to give to someone else is one of the most effective ways to boost our own well-being and gain perspective on our lives. Giving really does transform the giver as much as the recipient. 

It’s a phenomenon backed by science. A Harvard Business School study showed that “donating to charity has a similar relationship to subjective well-being as a doubling of household income.” The same study found that students who were told to spend a small amount of money on someone else were happier than students who were told to spend it on themselves.

Ray notes that each holiday season over $16 billion is spent on unwanted gifts. “Imagine what a huge impact we can have by convincing more people to give to charity instead of buying more unwanted stuff!” he writes.

Last year, it was amazing to see how the #RedefineGifting campaign caught on with so many people. As Ray told me, the cards “have a big impact, and make people delighted.” It’s true, and I’ve loved reading the responses, like this one, from a 2020 participant:

To Ray Dalio & Friends, I am thankful to be able to donate back to the nonprofit organization that has helped save our child’s life. Please understand that this is not a small gift, but life-saving. Thank you!” 

And many wrote to share how they’ll be spreading the concept:

“I want you to know that I will be paying this forward with my 10-year-old nephew this Christmas and giving him money to donate to a charity that he believes in. I hope it leads to some great conversations with him about the importance of helping others. Thanks again!” 

I hope you’ll spread the word and help us #RedefineGifting. Again, sign up at Tisbest.org/RedefineGifting to be notified of the next giveaway round. (And as Ray says, “If those are hot too, we’ll see what comes next.”)

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Author(s)

  • Arianna Huffington

    Founder & CEO of Thrive

    Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books, including Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. In 2016, she launched Thrive, a leading behavior change tech company with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. She has been named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union. She serves on numerous boards, including Onex and The B Team. Her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time, both became instant international bestsellers. Most recently, she wrote the foreword to Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps.