The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

22 December 2006

The Pay-It-Forward Movement

The Pay-It-Forward Movement is the real-life reaction to the release of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel "Pay It Forward" in early 2000 when she also set up the Pay It Forward Foundation to spread the idea, which became a Warner Brothers movie. I didn't write the novel expecting a social movement, but it's certainly been exciting to watch it grow.

Alex Southmayd was inspired by this, and set up the Give-It-Forward-Today (G.I.F.T.) foundation. This is what he says:

Hi, I am Alex Southmayd. I’m an eighth grader in Boston, Massachusetts. My hobbies are sports, studying classical piano and trumpet, drama, and singing. My favorite subjects in school are Latin, Physics, Math, and English. Well, that's enough about me. I was inspired to begin this project after I read the novel and saw the movie, "Pay it Forward."

I thought it was great that one kid could really make a big difference in people's lives. One of the many things I have done to make a difference is to play the piano for the retired Sisters of Charity at a retirement home in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. I talk with them after I have played my music. Some of them feel that they have been forgotten by the world. I make sure to remind them of the wave of human kindness that they have created during their lives.

When I was younger, my dad and I would play a game. We would try to do one good deed a day for someone. It was fun! "Pay it Forward" got me thinking how I could make the game with my father bigger. I brainstormed ideas with my family, and the G.I.F.T. project was born.

“In my novel, an extraordinary young man changes the world. Alex Southmayd is a shining example of the Pay It Forward. We should all take heart in knowing that Alex and his generation will be next in line to care for the world. Thanks Alex for caring about people, and about kindness, and for moving that caring into action.” ¬– Catherine Ryan Hyde

My dad once taught me that if you took a penny at the beginning of a month and doubled it every day, at the end of the month you would have over $5,000,000! If you took $100,000 and compounded it at a 9% interest rate, it would double every eight years. In 48 years you would have $27,000,000.

What would happen if you did an act of kindness for only two people and you inspired those two people to make a promise and do an act of kindness for two other people? You would set in motion a wave of human kindness. This is the mission of G.I.F.T.

Below, Alex has listed 30 Days of G.I.F.T. IDEAS. Pick one idea and find a human being to G.I.F.T. it to! If you are feeling incredibly inspired and motivated to make a difference on the planet, then G.I.F.T. 30 different people over the next 30 days. Tell them about the idea of G.I.F.T. Start a wave of human kindness. Who knows? Perhaps, your wave will change the world!

1. Forgive some who might have wronged you in the past. Go out of your way to do them a favor.
2. Search out someone who may need some real financial assistance. Maybe someone had their lights turned off because they could not pay the bill . You could be the light that they need.
3. Visit an elderly person in need of assistance or a visit.
4. Give someone your car.
5. If you provide services for living, give your services pro bono.
6. Pay someone's mortgage for a month -- or a year for that matter.
7. Help a student with their tuition.
8. Help with an inner city project.
9. Be a mentor.
10. Walk someone's dog.
11. Shovel someone's walkway.
12. Babysit for free.
13. Have a fund raiser at your school.
14. Clean someone's house.
15. Drive people around.
16. Rake someone's leaves.
17. Play music for the elderly.
18. Leave a huge tip next time you go out to dinner.
19. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger.
20. Treat a police officer to a cup of coffee.
21. Bring some goodies to the fire station.
22. Pick up someone's tab the next time you dine out.
23. Pay the highway toll for the person behind you.
24. Invite the less fortunate for Thanksgiving dinner.
25. Donate food, clothing, and money to the needy.
26. Buy the movie tickets for the person behind you.
27. Mow someone's lawn.
28. Cook a nice meal for a friend.
29. Help a homeless person find a home.
30. Read the book, 365 Ways To Change The World, by Michael Norton, and then give the book to a stranger.

Give It Forward Today:
Alex Southmayd has also set up Kids Tutor Kids to “help our generation do better academically and to make parents happy!”:


Blogger Cia said...

Hi, Michael. I am Cia from Indonesia. I started my blog 'Caring In Action' few weeks ago. And i found your blog here today when i'm try to find mine. Somehow, we have same point about changing the world. My motto is always start with small things to make a Big effect in our lives. And do it everytime you have the opportunity to do it. My mission is i want to make a movement like: 'Give a sincere smile to everyone, hold the door for person behind you, don't get angry easily, help the child who lost from their parents at the mall, give the food, clothes and money for the poor, etc. But before we do that, we must know that we do that because of Love from God. Because we are blessed, no matter what we've been through, to blessing others. May this thought will make our live to be a better living. God bless you all.

7:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do me a favor and visit For the greater good of mankind. Are we smarter than it would appear? Such a big brain to waste the greatest gift of all.... life. We all want the same thing ,water,food,happiness,shelter,explore . Define what makes you happy? Wait first you must define happiness. Oh that makes it a little harder. Everything relative to life.Please pay it forword! With great power comes great responsibility. People have the power.

12:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


7:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was just going to say that i have to do a project for school and i have to come up with pay it forward ideas to make the school a better place but i cant really come up with anything. do you have ideas plz respond.

2:48 am  
Blogger SugarScribes said...

I found your blog after reading some others like; and and I read the pos that brought me here and a few others. I like your thinking and your energy and I intend to now get and read your book. Thanks for caring and sharing.

10:29 pm  
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4:27 pm  

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