For years, the rule of reciprocity has been a standing principle in our brotherhood. In fact, we wrote it in as #10 in Our Brotherhood Manifesto. When you give your best to the universe, the universe will reward you in the most amazing ways. Our deep belief in reciprocity was renewed when we came across Alex Spiegel’s “Give and Take: How the Rule of Reciprocation Binds Us” on NPR. Spiegel tells the story of Phillip Kunz who, in 1974,
“decided to do an experiment to see what would happen if he sent Christmas cards to total strangers. And so he went out and collected directories for some nearby towns and picked out around 600 names. ‘I started out at a random number and then skipped so many and got to the next one,’ he says. To these 600 strangers, Kunz sent his Christmas greetings: handwritten notes or a card with a photo of him and his family. And then Kunz waited to see what would happen.
‘It was just, you know, a shot in the dark,’ he says. ‘I didn't know what would happen.’ But about five days later, responses started filtering back — slowly at first and then more, until eventually, they were coming 12, 15 at a time. Eventually, Kunz got more than 200 replies. ‘I was really surprised by how many responses there were,’ he says. ‘And I was surprised by the number of letters that were written, some of them three, four pages long.’
Robert Cialdini is an emeritus psychologist at Arizona State University who studies how our behavior is affected by social rules that we're only vaguely aware of but which have incredible power over what we do. The rule, he says, is drilled into us as children. ‘We are obligated to give back to others, the form of behavior that they have first given to us,’ he says. ‘Essentially thou shall not take without giving in return.’
And so if someone passes you in the hall and says hello, you feel compelled to return their greeting. When you don't, you notice it, it makes you uncomfortable, out of balance. That's the rule of reciprocation. ‘There's not a single human culture that fails to train its members in this rule,’ Cialdini says.”
We find this is true, not just within our brotherhood, but also in our deep belief about giving. Our robust philanthropy program aims to give back to homeless queer youth and at-risk queer college students. In fact, this winter, we have two active donation drives.
Our You're H.O.M.E. initiative is an extension of our Service & Philanthropy program. In partnership with Great Oaks Charter School, we are seeking monetary donations or items off the wish list by February 7th. All proceeds will be sent to Child, Inc.'s youth homeless shelter in Wilmington, Delaware.
Our Beta Book Bag Drive is another new initiative from our service program. This month we are collecting school supplies to donate to LGBTQ+ students from the University of Dayton and Sinclair Community College who are returning to campus this spring.