Can writing a book really make someone change their behavior? Here’s a review of a book that persuaded me to change how I spend my money. The book was The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. And it changed my behavior by eliciting my first ever deliberate charitable donation, which went to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here’s how Melinda Gates changed me forever...

I’ve made random donations to charities before, usually when a friend has run a marathon in its name, or when J.K.Rowling offered Harry Potter-themed rewards for donations to her foundation.

Donating to The Empowerment & Opportunity Fund at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was more deliberate, though. It’s the first time I’ve sat down and determined a percentage of my business profits that will support a specific cause on a regular basis.

From now on, at the end of every quarter, I’ll send some cash to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation because of what I read in The Moment of Lift.

Now, we’re not talking about Warren Buffet-style support here. (That dude has donated about $34 billion to charity. Way to go, Mr. Moneybags!) But it’s something, and as my business grows, so too will my donations.

Never knowing what to do

I’ve always wanted to support efforts to make the world a more equal place, and I’ve always felt in my gut that inequality is inhuman. But I’ve never known what to do about it.

I’ve also struggled with feeling like fighting for equality is, well, a little bit hopeless.

Intellectually I know that’s not true.

  • Women rallied for the right to vote. And won. (In many, but certainly not all, places.)

  • People stood up to abolish slavery. And won. (In most forms.)

  • The LGBTQ community fought for equal marriage rights. And won. (Where I live, at least.)

Inequality feels overwhelming

But on an emotional level, inequality feels like such a deeply ingrained societal norm that it seems like there’s nothing little ol’ me can do to bring about change.

And frankly, there isn’t a whole lot I can do on my own.

But Melinda Gates’ book, A Moment of Lift, reminded me that there is hope when we partner up.

Hope and help for partnerships

From what I understand, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partners with organizations around the world. It helps support those organizations in executing their own programs. I think they do their own research and stuff too, but their power is in partnerships.

The book talks about partnerships which have:

  • Drastically reduced HIV/AIDS in India and the rest of the world.

  • Provided contraceptives so women can plan their families and escape the poverty trap of having more kids than they can feed.

  • Supported female farmers, helping them increase yields and reduce world hunger.

In her book, Melinda Gates talks about why inequality is such a big deal, how religion hinders women (which is particularly interesting, given that she’s Catholic), and why we should care.

But more than that, she gives hope.

Proof that things can change

She offers proof that things can change for the better. Debilitating diseases can be eradicated. Child brides can escape being married off against their will. Everyday life for women can improve. Cultural norms can change.

Sometimes I avoid reading about inequality because it’s so damn depressing. But The Moment of Lift was, well, uplifting. It made me feel like my teeny, tiny donation could actually help.

Donation message from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

So I donated.

And I’ll continue to do so.

And my behavior has been changed because of a book. Because a smart, passionate woman wrote about a message she felt the world must hear.

What’s your message?

What behavior do you want to change? Do you believe people can change after reading your book?

Maybe you’re like I was, knowing intellectually that you can make a difference in the world but not really feeling it in your bones.

Well, a book changed that for me. Now I really feel like I can help improve equality when I partner with others, and I changed my actions because of this belief.

A book can change how your readers feel and act, too. So please, please, please believe in the power of sharing your message. It can change the world.

A three-way win

I didn’t donate to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation reluctantly. I didn’t feel pushed into supporting Melinda Gates’ cause. I did it because she said something that resonated with me.

Being able to donate fulfilled me as much as it served her.

I’d been looking for hope. I’d been wanting to help. I just didn’t know what to do.

She gave me an answer. She served me in that way, and I, in turn, responded.

  • Win for me: Melinda Gates gave me an answer to something I’d long wrestled with.

  • Win for Melinda Gates: She got more support for her work.

  • Win for the world: Improving the lives of women improves things for everyone.

What will your three-way win look like when you share your message with the world and finally write your book?

Message from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Want to join in?

Check out The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.

Find out more about the Empowerment & Opportunity Fund I donated to, which is one wing of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and you can be a partner in improving this world.

Equality message from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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