How The Talent Pledge Was Born: A Confession

March 15, 2018



Have you ever watched a film or read a book about an urgent cause and felt a pit in your stomach and tears in your eyes? Have you ever been so moved by someone’s story of hope and change that you swear to yourself you’ll do something to support their cause? 

Me too. Then on the way to the fridge to refill my juice, tears still fresh on my cheeks, I step on a LEGO.

Ouch! I thought I told Sadie to pick up the LEGO before bed. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I need to order that new Heartlake Cafe set for her birthday. Better put it in my calendar. Oooh glad I checked the calendar: conference call at 9 am tomorrow. I need to look over those documents and find my phone charger. Where did I put my phone charger? Must be in the car. Car…that’s right. I need to get the brake pads replaced. Is tomorrow Friday already? Swim meet. Find the goggles. [Open the fridge door and stand in the cold glow.] Why did I come into the kitchen? [Long pause. Blank stare.] Oh look! Leftover cookie dough!

That’s it. The end. Game over. My heart-felt, tear-stained sense of purpose is lost forever on the way to the fridge. Well, most of it anyway. What’s left is drowned in a cookie dough-induced sense of powerlessness in the face of the world’s problems.

I know I’m not alone here. Over and over again I meet people like me who want to contribute to causes bigger than ourselves. But we lose the thread somewhere in our daily lives, often on the ever-changing path to the fridge or the boardroom or the carpool or the dentist. Even if we manage to move in the direction of purposeful action, it’s tough to know where to start.

With headlines of suffering popping up on our devices daily, we’re all aware of urgent causes. But sometimes it feels like AWARENESS and ACTION are two diametrically facing cliffs separated by a seemingly uncrossable chasm. Most of us sit on the CLIFF of AWARENESS and watch Bill Gates and Bono and their Nobel-laureate friends on the other side where the ACTION is. It seems like to get to the other side—to make a difference—you have to be superhuman or well-resourced enough to charter a flight. Most of us are neither. We’re stuck.

Shrug. Sigh. Bring on the cookie dough, right?

Actually, yes.

“Wait, what?” you say. “That’s your answer?”

Yep. It turns out cookie dough is the answer. Here’s the thing: I make cookie dough once a week as a matter of course, usually on a Thursday afternoon to appease my kids and get a late-week sugar buzz. It takes no superhuman powers or philanthropic dollars to do this. It’s fun, easy and quite frankly, my cookie dough rocks. It’s a talent :). So why can’t I quadruple the recipe and get my friends and colleagues to donate to a cause I care about for the chance to get a plate of my rockin’ cookies? They would love it.

And what about my friend Jennie? She makes awesome ravioli. Why can’t she offer her ravioli to friends? (She did, by the way, and raised nearly $2500 to help refugees.) Or take Saydi. She has to coerce her kids into doing their music practice anyway. Why not help them do a benefit concert once a year for their friends and family? (They did and raised $3,350 to support child health last year.) What about Sanz who raised $600 organizing homes help rescue children from the sex trade? Or Shannon who offered her travel photos and raised $8000 to support refugees? Or Bailey who organized a local hike and raised $1200 for at-risk girls? You see where I’m going with this. COOKIE DOUGH (or ravioli or home organizing or music or photography or hiking or whatever your talent is) IS THE ANSWER!

Enter The Talent Pledge, a vibrant, global movement of “everyday” humanitarians, changemakers and philanthropists. The Pledge is powerful and DOABLE: Turn your talents into a simple fundraiser for a cause you care about. Once a year.

Using our platform, you can create and share a personalized fundraising page where friends and family can donate directly to any U.S.-registered charity you choose. Don’t have a charity in mind? We’ve carefully curated a set of highly-effective ones that are solving the world’s most urgent problems (we’re really picky). Don’t know what to do to fundraise? We’ve got a simple tool to help you find ways to fundraise that match your talents. And the best part is you’ll get a personalized giving report to watch your impact grow.

Once you sign up and create your first fundraiser, you’ll be cartwheeling across the path from AWARENESS to ACTION. You will feel sooooo good. Just imagine a world where we all use our unique talents to relieve suffering, solve problems and make change.  

So here’s to your talents. And here’s to cookie dough. And here’s to holding tight to your purpose on the way to the fridge. Welcome to the movement.


Josie Lauritsen Lee, Talent Pledge co-founder

P.S. Here is my highly-guarded, proprietary chocolate chip cookie dough recipe. Care for it as if it were your own. You’re welcome.

Turn your talents into a fundraiser → MORE INSPIRATION
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