Book References & Notes

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Recommended Books

Bregman, Rutger. Humankind: A Hopeful History. London: Bloomsbury, 2019. [Website]

Coombes, Joshua. Do Something For Nothing: Seeing Beneath the Surface of Homelessness, Through the Simple Act of a Haircut. London: Murdoch Books, 2021. [Amazon]

Dickson, Mike. Our Generous Gene. Generous Press, 2016. [Website] [Amazon]

Dunn, Elizabeth, and Michael Norton. Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending. London: Oneworld Publications, 2014. [Amazon]

Guzmán, Mónica. I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times. New York: BenBella Books, 2022. [Amazon]

Hopkins, Rob. From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want. London: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2019. [Amazon]

MacAskill, William. What We Owe the Future: A Million-Year View. London: Oneworld Publications, 2023. [Website] [Amazon]

Ryan, M. J. Radical Generosity: Unlock the Transformative Power of Giving. Newburyport, MA: Conari Press, 2018. [Amazon]

Singer, Peter. The Life You Can Save: How to Play Your Part in Ending World Poverty. Basingstoke, UK: Picador, 2010. [Website]

Smith, Christian, and Hilary Davidson. The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. [Amazon]

Wahba, Orly. Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts. New York: Flatiron, 2017. [Amazon]

Williams, Matthew. The Science of Hate. London: Faber and Faber, 2021. [Amazon]

TED Talks 

Mike Dickson: “What is enough?” [TED Youtube]

Elizabeth Dunn: “Helping others makes us happier—but it matters how we do it.” [TED Ed]

Michael Norton: “How to buy happiness.” []

Mary Portas: “Welcome to the Kindness Economy.” []

Alex Gendler: “What is a gift economy?” []

Orly Wahba: “Making Kindness Viral.” [TED Youtube]

Adam Grant: “Are you a giver or a taker?” []

Melinda and Bill Gates: “Why Giving Away Our Wealth Has Been the Most Satisfying Thing We’ve Done.” []

Dan Harris: “The benefits of not being a jerk to yourself.” []

Sarah Lomelin: “Your invitation to disrupt philanthropy.” []

Mundano: “Trash cart superheroes.” []

Daniel Pallotta: “The way we think about charity is dead wrong.” []

Peter Singer: “The why and how of effective altruism.” []

John Sweeney: “Why kindness matters.” [TEDx Youtube]

Alain de Botton: “Atheism 2.0.” []

Nicholas Christakis: “The hidden influence of social networks.” []

Lily Yeh: “From broken to whole.” [TEDx Youtube]

Jon Ronson: “When online shaming goes too far.” []

Jim Hagemann Snabe: “Dreams and details for a decarbonized future.” []

Daryl Davis: “Why I, as a black man, attend KKK rallies.” []

Dylan Marron: “Empathy is not endorsement.” []

Hamdi Ulukaya: “The anti-CEO playbook.” []

Ken Robinson: “Do schools kill creativity?” []

Jeffrey Walker: “Creating whole-table discussions over dinner.” [TED Youtube]

Priya Parker: “3 steps to turn everyday get-togethers into transformative gatherings.” []


Chesterfield, Alex, Laura Osbourne, and Ali Goldsworthy. Changed My Mind. Depolarisation Project. [Website]

GoodGoodGood. Sounds Good with Branden Harvey. [Website]

Karabell, Zachary, and Emma Varvaloucas. What Could Go Right? The Progress Network. [Website]

Marron, Dylan. Conversations with People Who Hate Me. [Website]

Voss, Michael Gordon. Giving with Impact. The episode “Giving Circles for Greater Community Impact” is particularly recommended. [Spotify]

Philanthropy and Generous Living

Giving What We Can is a research body advising donors on the most effective charities: []

GiveWell researches outstanding giving opportunities for donors to make maximum impact: []

The Audacious Project identifies bold but credible ideas for collaborative support: []

Giving Tuesday is a nonprofit and global movement that has inspired hundreds of millions to be generous on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving: []

GiveDirectly is a nonprofit that allows donors to transfer money directly to the world’s poorest households: []

Acumen is a global community financing businesses with “patient capital,” lifting millions out of poverty in the developing world: []

Life Vest Inside, founded by TED speaker Orly Wahba, is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to inspiring, empowering, and educating people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness”: []

The website What Is A Giving Circle? (created by Philanthropy Together) is an entertaining and informative how-to guide for starting a giving circle, and why you should: [] is an organization that provides free digital infrastructure for groups of friends to set up their own giving circle: [] is an organization offering digital fundraising infrastructure for charities of all sizes: []

Solutions-Based Journalism

FutureCrunch is a hub of positive global trends grounded in data, with an inspiring weekly newsletter of stories for subscribers: []

Reasons to be Cheerful was founded by the musician David Byrne, and the website collates “smart, proven, replicable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems”: []

Positive News is a cooperatively owned print and online magazine “joining the dots between how people, communities, and organizations are changing the world for the better”: []

GOOD Worldwide is a B-corp social-impact company focused on human progress, with an audience of 150 million people. It has two main media branches: Upworthy delivers feel-good inspiration, whereas GOOD features in-depth analysis and reporting: []

Bridging and Hospitality

Bridging organization Living Room Conversations has published one hundred free conversation guides to help bring people together on contentious issues: []

Bridging organization Braver Angels offers a free e-course on how to respectfully connect online: []

The Big Lunch is an annual, global neighborhood get-together, generating new connections, celebrating community, and helping people make change where they live: []

StoryCorps is an organization devoted to sharing people’s stories “in order to build connections . . . and create a more just and compassionate world”: []

We Are Weavers, founded by TED speaker David Brooks, supports a philosophy of “deep relationships and community success” over individual achievement: []

BridgeUSA’s “Let’s F***ing Talk to Each Other” campaign focuses on combating polarization on college campuses and beyond: []



The greater the sense: Jim Davies, “We Aren’t Selfish After All.” Nautilus, April 29, 2020,

When the clip was posted online: Reddit user T6900, “R/humansbeingbros—Random downpour in DC, this guy jumps out of his car to share an umbrella with a couple down on their luck.” Reddit, 2022,

Chapter 1: Inside a Contagion

TED Talks are now translated: “TED Translators,” TED, 2023,

Harvard Business Review: Nilofer Merchant, “When TED Lost Control of Its Crowd,” Harvard Business Review, April 2013,

As of 2023: Data taken from

“The only way we’ll do it”: Ken Robinson, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?,” TED, 2006,

Chapter 2: The Infinite Village

Wildlife sound recordist: Andy Corbley, “Wildlife Sound Recordist Releases Treasured Audio Collection for Free—to Awe and Inspire the World,” Good News Network, February 23, 2022,

Bridging organization Living Room Conversations: “Conversation Topics,” Living Room Conversations, 2023,

US hip-hop duo Run the Jewels: Daniel Kreps, “Run the Jewels to Make New Album ‘Free for Anyone Who Wants Some Music,’” Rolling Stone, May 31, 2020,

The iconic French photographer: Yann Arthus-Bertrand, “A Wide Angle View of Fragile Earth,” TED, 2009,

YouTuber @joejoezidane: YouTube account @HUMAN The movie, “HUMAN The movie (Director’s cut version)”, YouTube, April 14, 2020,

Likewise, the ability for musicians: Clare Mulroy, “Spotify Pays Artists (Sort of), but Not per Stream. Here’s How It Breaks Down,” USAToday, October 22, 2022,

“I’ve got to build something”: Interview of Matthew Burrows by Kate Honey, May 5, 2022.

To take the example of Patreon: “Our Story,” Patreon, 2023,

When billionaire Robert Smith: Dimitra Kessenides, “Robert Smith Pays Off Student Loans at Morehouse College,” Bloomberg News, December 14, 2019,

Back in 2014: Jon Ronson, “When Online Shaming Goes Too Far,” TED, July 20, 2015,

The philosopher Alain de Botton: Alain de Botton, “Atheism 2.0,” TED, 2011,

Chapter 3: Imperfect Generosity

For what it’s worth: Wayne E. Baker and Nathaniel Bulkley, “Paying It Forward vs. Rewarding Reputation: Mechanisms of Generalized Reciprocity,” Organization Science 25, no. 5 (Oct. 2014): 1493–510,

The fact that CEOs: Kate Gibson, “It Takes 300 Worker Salaries to Equal the Average CEO’s Pay, Data Show,” CBS News, July 14, 2021,

And it is shocking: Credit Suisse Research Institute, Global Wealth Databook 2022, Credit Suisse, 2022,

As the French economist: Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 519–27

Forbes magazine estimates: Chase Peterson-Withorn, “Forbes’ 36th Annual World’s Billionaires List: Facts And Figures 2022,” Forbes, April 5, 2022,

According to calculations by Forbes: Rachel Sandler, “The Forbes Philanthropy Score 2022: How Charitable Are the Richest Americans?” Forbes, Sept. 27, 2022,

Chapter 4: Secret Superpowers

When a video: Sudeept Mishra, “Bhopal Braveheart Dives under Moving Train to Save Girl, Heroism Caught on Camera,” Times of India, February 11, 2022,

For example, in one study: Samuel L. Gaertner and John F. Dovidio, “The Common Ingroup Identity Model,” in Paul A. M. Van Lange, Arie W. Kruglanski, and E. Tory Higgins, eds., Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology, vol. 2 (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2012), 439–57.000. The widespread reading of novels: Claudia Hammond, “Does Reading Makes Us Better People?” BBC, June 3, 2019,

But in the case of generosity: Jonathan Haidt, “Wired to be Inspired,” Greater Good, March 1, 2005,

Our instinctive self: Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (London: Penguin, 2012), 20–30.

The polling firm Gallup: Data from Gallup World Poll 2013, (closed access)

In her TED Talk: Elizabeth Dunn, “Helping Others Makes Us Happier—but It Matters How We Do It.” TED, 2019,

This creates a dangerous asymmetry: Ed O’Brien and Samantha Kassirer, “People Are Slow to Adapt to the Warm Glow of Giving,” Psychological Science 30, no. 2 (2019): 193–204.

Chapter 5: The Mystery Experiment

It estimated that: Ryan J. Dwyer and Elizabeth W. Dunn, “Wealth Distribution Promotes Happiness,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119, no. 46 (2022): 2–3.

After a humiliating 360-degree review: Dan Harris, “The benefits of not being a jerk to yourself,” TED, 2022,

Begin by opening your eyes: Brother David Steindl-Rast, “Gratitude | Louie Schwartzberg | TEDxSF”, YouTube, June 11, 2011,

Chapter 6: Six Ways to Give That Aren’t About Money

“In the hour that followed”: Joshua Coombes, Do Something for Nothing: Seeing Beneath the Surface of Homelessness, through the Simple Act of a Haircut. (London: Murdoch Books, 2021), 10

Joshua has garnered: Instagram account @joshuacoombes has 156,000 followers as of June 2023

When Joshua posted: Coombes, Do Something for Nothing, 106

“Give the benefit of the doubt”: Coombes, Do Something for Nothing, 219.

“the way to skyrocket through the algorithm”: Dylan Marron, Conversations with People Who Hate Me: 12 Things I Learned from Talking to Internet Strangers. (New York: Atria Books, 2022), loc. 14, Kindle.

“You’re a piece of shit”: Marron, Conversations with People Who Hate Me, loc.  99.

In his TED Talk: Dylan Marron, “Empathy is not endorsement,” TED, 2018,

“the most subversive thing”: Marron, “Empathy is not endorsement".

“Before I met Craig”: Changed My Mind podcast, “Becoming Friends with Your Arch Enemy with Leah Garcés,” Spotify, June 2020,

Taiwan’s inaugural minister: Carl Miller, “Taiwan’s Crowdsourced Democracy Shows Us How to Fix Social Media,” Reasons to be Cheerful, September 27, 2020,

Since then, their lessons: Statistic from Khan Academy YouTube channel,

In her TED Talk: Dunn, “Helping others makes us happier—but it matters how we do it,”

“I felt it”: Orahachi Onubedo, “Under the Hoodie—Ada Nduka Oyom, DevRel Ecosystem Community Manager with Google,” BenjaminDada, July 20, 2021,

As of 2023: Statistic from She Code Africa’s website,

He wrote that: Rory Stewart, “Books: ‘The Places in Between,’” Washington Post, August 10, 2006,

In his remarkable book: Donald Brown, Human Universals (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991), loc. 1500, Kindle.

Even a decade ago: Guy Trebay, “Guess Who Isn’t Coming to Dinner,” New York Times, November 28, 2012,

“I felt an emptiness inside”: TEDx Talks YouTube channel, “From broken to whole: Lily Yeh at TEDxCornellU,” YouTube, December 20, 2013,

In 2020: “An Artist Is Creating a rainbow Rainbow square Square in Gloucester,” BBC, May 13, 2022,

A Lyon, France–based artist: Ian Phillips, “France’s Answer to Banksy: The Anonymous Street Artist Filling Potholes with Colourful Mosaics,” Guardian, September 11, 2022,

Busy New Yorkers: “The Sing for Hope Pianos on CBS Sunday Morning,” YouTube, SingForHope YouTube channel, February 3, 2022,

In locked-down Florence: @MuhammadLila Twitter account, “During Italy’s quarantine . . . ,” March 14, 2020,

In South Waziristan: Asad Hashim, “Pakistan Musicians Fill Silence in Former Taliban Stronghold.” Al Jazeera, February 28, 2018,

Chapter 7: Catalysts of Contagion

For example, in 2022: Elle Hunt, “They Filmed Me Without My Consent”: The Ugly Side of #Kindness Videos,” Guardian, January 31, 2023,

All the money he gets: @MrBeast twitter account, “Twitter—Rich people should help others . . . ,” Twitter, January 30, 2023,

A group of friends: Heather Wake, “The Way These ‘Samurai Litter Pickers’ Clean the Streets Is Kinda the Coolest Thing Ever,” Upworthy, July 2, 2022,

As Mundano spray-painted: Mundano, “Trash cart superheroes.” TED, 2014,

Mockus could have responded: Mara Cristina Caballero, “Academic Turns City into a Social Experiment,” Harvard Gazette, March 11, 2004,

During Mockus’s leadership: Caballero, “ Academic Turns City into a Social Experiment.”

Some critics think: ALS Association, “Ice Bucket Challenge Dramatically Accelerated the Fight Against ALS,” ALS Association, June 4, 2019,

The humor and the personal engagement: Movember, “About Us—Financials,” Movember, 2022,

CNN heard about this strange relationship: Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner, “What Happened When a Klansman Met a Black Man in Charlottesville,” CNN, July 16, 2020,

As he said: TEDx Talks YouTube Channel, “Why I, as a black man, attend KKK rallies. | Daryl Davis | TEDxNaperville,” YouTube, December 8, 2017,

It sometimes burns bright: “Mamoudou Gassama: Mali ‘Spiderman’ Becomes French Citizen,” BBC, September 13, 2018,

And it sometimes has: Sirin Kale, “‘He’s a Hero’—the Teacher Who Hand-Delivered 15,000 Free School Meals in Lockdown,” Guardian, November 13, 2021,

When Covid hit the UK:“Obituary: Captain Sir Tom Moore, a Hero Who Gave a Nation hope,” BBC, February 2, 2021,

The Grammy-winning: Claire Schafer, “OK Go Premiere New Song for Frontline COVID-19 Workers,” Rolling Stone, May 13, 2020,

Deeply moved: OK Go YouTube account, “OK Go Sandbox—Behind the Scenes of #ArtTogetherNow,” YouTube, 2021,

By 2020: Mark Savage, “BTS Were the Top-Selling Act in the World Last Year,” BBC, February 24, 2022,

To celebrate the birthdays: @KimNamjoonPHL Twitter account, “Plant Today, Save Tomorrow . . . ,” Twitter, September 8, 2019,

Thousands of native trees: “BTS Fans Build Forest In RM’s Name As Birthday Gift,” Soompi, September 3, 2019,; AllKPop user btsarmykook, “BTS Jungkook Forest No. 4,” created by fans to improve biodiversity in collaboration with the Korean Federation For Environmental Movement,” AllKPop, Nov 19, 2021,

The International Network of Crisis Mappers: statistics taken from their website

In the spring of 2017: Sounds Good podcast, “3 Myths About Changing the World,” GoodGoodGood (podcast), April 5, 2021,

Wolff didn’t make a cent: Sounds Good podcast, “3 Myths About Changing the World”

Chapter 8: Pass it On!

“Human progress is not”: Email correspondence between author and Steven Pinker.

When you take all causes: Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, and Lucas Rodés-Guirao, “World Population Growth,” OurWorldInData, 2023,

In 1990: Global Health Observatory, “Child Mortality and Causes of Death,” World Health Organisation, 2023,

A classic social psychology paper: Roy F. Baumeister and Ellen Bratslavsky, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” Review of General Psychology 5, no. 4 (2001): 323–70.

Yet penicillin would play: Peter Hogg, “Top 10 Most Important Drugs in History,” Proclinical, January 18, 2022,

She quickly committed: Nick Statt, “MacKenzie Scott Has Already Donated Nearly $1.7 Billion of Her Amazon Wealth Since Divorcing Jeff Bezos,” The Verge, July 28, 2020,

It was the local dentist: Mackenzie Scott, “No Dollar Signs This Time,” Yield Giving,December 8, 2021,

Here are just a few: All posts are taken from the Kindness Pandemic Facebook page,

Chapter 9: And What About Money?

This type of giving: Derek Beres, “Idiot Compassion and Mindfulness,” Big Think, October 30, 2013,

In the United States and Europe: Austin Frakt, “Putting a Dollar Value on Life? Governments Already Do,” New York Times, May 11, 2020,

But, according to “How We Produce Impact Estimates”, GiveWell, April 2023,

Ninety million dollars. That’s leverage: David W. Brown, “A Security Camera for the Planet,” New Yorker, April 28, 2023,

For about $70: Statistic from KickStart website,; “KickStart MoneyMaker Hip Pump.” Engineering for Change, 2023,

Even after taking into account: 2022 Annual Report, KickStart, June 2023, 3, In philanthropic terms: Safeena Husain, “A bold plan to empower 1.6 million out-of-school girls in India.” TED, 2019,

After countless setbacks: “Lighting the Way: Roadmaps to Exits in Off-Grid Energy,” Acumen, 2019, 18

Eighty public-benefit programs: Amanda Renteria, “A bold plan to transform access to the US social safety net,” TED, 2022,

To take a typical example: Renteria, “A bold plan to transform access to the US social safety net.”

When the pandemic hit: Renteria, “A bold plan to transform access to the US social safety net.”

With the support of national health systems: Raj Panjabi, “No one should die because they live too far from a doctor,” TED, 2017,

The donors who fund: Based on email correspondence with Giving Tuesday

Patreon allows millions: “The Story of Patreon,” Patreon, 2023,

Today hundreds of thousands: Unleashing Generosity Globally: 2022 Impact Report, Giving Tuesday, 2023, 22,

The donors who fund: “Mackenzie Scott Gives $7M to Giving Tuesday,” Giving Tuesday, June 15, 2021,

Chapter 10: The Internet We Want

“We’re facing 25 years”: Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden, “The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980–2020,” Wired, July 1, 1997,

In 2010, I gave a TED Talk: Chris Anderson, “How web video powers global innovation.” TED, 2010,

When he failed to get: Roger McNamee, “How Facebook and Google Threaten Public Health—and Democracy,” Guardian, November 11, 2017,

A year later, Nick Bostrom: Nick Bostrom, “What happens when our computers get smarter than we are?” TED, 2015,

At TED in 2017: Tristan Harris, “How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day,” TED, 2017,

The following year at TED: Jaron Lanier, “How we need to remake the internet,” TED, 2018,

And in 2019: Carole Cadwalladr, “Facebook’s role in Brexit—and the threat to democracy,” TED, 2019,

Every day we query: Maryam Mohsin, “10 Google Search Statistics You Need to Know.” Oberlo (blog), January 13, 2023,; Peter Dizikes, “Why Social Media Has Changed the World—and How to Fix It,” MIT News, September 24, 2020,; Manish Singh, “WhatsApp Is Now Delivering Roughly 100 Billion Messages a Day,” TechCrunch, October 30, 2020,

A shocking report in the UK: “How Long Do Brits Spend Scrolling Through Their Phones?” Lenstore, January 11, 2022,

According to researchers: Matthew Williams, The Science of Hate: How Prejudice Becomes Hate and What We Can Do to Stop It (London: Faber and Faber, 2021), loc. 351, Kindle

Following the Brexit vote: Williams, The Science of Hate, loc. 350

Here are some: Williams, The Science of Hate, loc. 351

After one such announcement: Michelle Castillo, “Facebook Plunges More Than 24 Percent on Revenue Miss and Projected Slowdown,” CNBC, July 25, 2018,

In China: “China: Children Given Daily Time Limit on Douyin—Its Version of TikTok,” BBC, September 20, 2021,

In late 2022: Mia Sato, “Facebook Adds ‘Show More’ and ‘Show Less’ Controls to Adjust What You See on Your Feed,” The Verge, October 5, 2022,

One of the most persuasive arguments: Stuart Russell, “3 principles for creating safer AI,” TED, 2017,

A hopeful moment occurred: Twitter user @elonmusk, “New Twitter will strive . . . ,” Twitter, December 30, 2022,

Chapter 11: The Brilliant Move Companies Could Make

But in 2018: Jim Hagemann Snabe, “Dreams and details for a decarbonized future,” TED, 2022,

Since no one had an answer: Snabe, “Dreams and details for a decarbonized future.”

In 2016, he had two thousand people: Sam Thielman, “Chobani Millionaires: Employees Could Split 10% of Yogurt Company Windfall,” Guardian, April 26, 2016,

It has become: Matthew Johnstone, “Chobani IPO: What You Need To Know,” Investopedia, November 18, 2021,

In his TED Talk: Hamdi Ulukaya, “The anti-CEO playbook,” TED, 2019,

A survey in late 2022: Martin Armstrong, “The Size of the Company ‘Given Away’ to Save the Planet,” Statista, September 15, 2022,; “The Top 15 Coolest Clothing Brands According to Gen Z and Millennials”, YPulse, Aug 18, 2022,

Chapter 12: Philanthropy’s True Potential

For example, in technology: Data from,

And in early 2023: “More Than $1B Catalyzed for 2023 Audacious Projects,” TEDBlog, April 27, 2023,

Chapter 13: The Pledge That Could Change Everything

Numerous charities out there: “Our Top Charities,” GiveWell, December 2022,