Nipun Mehta defines Givtivism as, “the practice of radically generous acts that change the world. Radical in its audacity to believe that inner and the outer are deeply inter-connected, and generous in its vision of uplifting one-hundred percent, the oppressor and the oppressed.” As a founder of ServiceSpace, Mehta has been promoting giftivism through several innovative initiatives. One of them, Karma Kitchen started in 1997 as an all-volunteer restaurant in Berkeley, California provides meals to customers. When they are finished dining they receive a tab for $0. The diners are then asked to pay what they think the meal is worth. The premise is a pay-it-forward model, and to date they have served over 24,000 customers. Karma Kitchen has expanded to six cities worldwide including Ahmedabad, India, and Tokyo, Japan.
This radical economic model is based on the good will that is in all of us. I recall that years ago a rock band followed a similar approach giving away their new release and asking customers to pay what they thought it was worth. This approach more than covered their expenses and became a profitable way for selling their new release.
Perhaps in these times when small businesses find that competing with the big box stores for the lowest price is often a futile endeavor, giftivism offers a glimmer of hope for us, as individuals, to assess the true value of a product or service and pay for it accordingly.