What does it mean to Pay It Forward?

Pay it Forward Heavenly Donuts
Have you ever been a part of a “Pay It Forward” chain? 55 drive-thru customers consecutively paid for the customer behind them at Heav’nly Donuts in Amesbury, MA. The only reason the chain ended was because there were no more customers in line. The employees of the donut shop were surprised that each patron was so eager to participate.

A sales clerk said to a customer “we’re 17 cars in, you can either keep it going or you can take your coffee and go.” Acts of kindness such as these deserve attention.

The story was reported on CBS Boston, watch this video via GeoBeats News

55 Drive-Thru Customers Part Of ‘Pay It Forward’ Chain At Amesbury Donut Shop

As another clerk said, “it put everybody in a good mood.” It was a really nice gesture that could have brightened someone’s day. The best part is that it was heart warming and unexpected. That is the whole idea around the concept of  Pay It Forward. When you pay it forward it means you reciprocate an act of kindness to another person rather than back to the person who had done something for you. Then that person pays if forward to another and on and on… It is a great way to keep a good thing going.

The Movie: Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

I first heard about the idea of pay it forward when I saw the movie entitled Pay It Forward. If you haven’t seen it, you should. The movie was released in 2000 and is about a school teacher (Kevin Spacey) who encourages one of his young students to come up with a way to change the world. The young boy (Haley Joel Osment) came up with the idea to help three people and in return those three people each had to help three more people and so on… until it became a national movement. It’s an uplifting movie that will motivate you to start your own pay it forward movement. Watch the trailer below.

PPAI creates Pay It Forward Day

In 2010 the PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) created the official Promotional Professionals Pay It Forward Day. It is also know as #PromoProsPIFDay and is every year on November 6.

The idea came up to create a Promotional Professionals Pay It Forward Day during an industry event. A few of the attendees decided it would be a good idea to give back to their own communities. Why not? Promotional product professionals are very familiar with how to organize and promote charity events. There are loads of awareness giveaways and custom items for fundraising events that we use to help organizations build awareness for their charities.

Garrett Specialties Pays It Forward

A leader within the promotional product industry and a proud member of PPAI, Garrett Specialties, has also been a part of a pay it forward good deed. We too believe in paying it forward. For example, we have donated custom tote bags full of promotional goodies such as water bottles and lip balm to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New York City. Our donation helped raise awareness for MS. It was our way of showing appreciation and paying it forward.

How can your organization pay it forward? Do you have a good pay it forward story? Please share.

76 thoughts on “What does it mean to Pay It Forward?

  1. As stated at the end of the video, it helps renew your belief in humanity when you hear about something like this.

    Sure wish I had a story to tell but none comes to mind right now.

    I’m not sure what I just saw and have seen fits into this but there are a couple of bloggers who have a day on their blog where it’s just for others to promote themselves, their work and their blog.

    Thanks for an uplifting story!
    Patricia Weber recently posted…How To Boost Your Baby Boomer Energy and Vitality NaturallyMy Profile

  2. We recently had a round of pay it forward coffees at out local Tim Horton’s it was a great way to start every bodies day.

    We work with a lot of volunteers at my organization and it’s very common that the thing that gets them started is being recipients of care from us. They see the value and then want to give something back, so end by being volunteers.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Tips For Planning a Media Event – Part One, Getting ReadyMy Profile

  3. Hi Arleen, great information helpful as well, I saw the movie and the phrase “Pay it forward” has been one of my favorites ever since. It’s not the phrase itself so much as it is the power of sharing that it can create. I really find there are personal rewards in passing on to others something of value that I know will help, It’s truly a great feeling!
    Tony recently posted…Are Online Business Systems and Internet Marketing Changing for Better Or Worse?My Profile

  4. My oldest daughter just watched that movie yesterday and was surprised, because that is something we already try to do when given the opportunity to help someone out! Great idea to blog about it and pass it on!
    Nice to meet you!
    ~Heather @ The Welcoming House Blog

  5. Hi Arleen,

    Thank you for this ‘Pay It Forward’ idea. I have not heard about this here in Sydney.

    My takeaway is that team effort cannot be under-estimated. Often, a task may seem too big to tackle. With EACH people doing just a little bit, adopting the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy, it is not that difficult after all.

    Awesome sharing! Thanks!

    Viola Tam – The Business Mum
    Viola Tam recently posted…Stay-at-Home Mums – R for Relationship. Respect. Referral.My Profile

    • I never look for anything in return. I felt good doing it just like you do. However, I do feel the world is round and good things will come to you when you help others. Hollywood can make a difference and leave a good impression. Kudos to the film makers.
      Arleen recently posted…What does it mean to Pay It Forward?My Profile

  6. Have never even heard of this concept before, Arleen. Most likely because I don’t live in America. Could be a good idea of making people not only think about looking after number one.

    Personally do favours for people whenever I can. However, once really helped an American woman but she didn’t even appreciate it. On the contrary it was obvious that she felt inferior because she succeeded because of what I did. Being European I find that kind of reaction very strange. Pay it forward might be a way of changing that kind of attitude?
    Catarina recently posted…Are you a thought leader?My Profile

  7. I love this idea and have tried it at toll plazas. Sadly, the worker bee looked at us like we had 2 heads. What is wrong with this world? To be honest, this got me thinking of other ways I can pull this off. (I often find myself in the coffee line!)

    Great reminder that we don’t live in a bubble and kindness is FREE!

  8. Arleen,
    This is fantastic! I haven’t seen the movie, but I am looking forward to.
    Paying it Forward is just part of my life. I do have a story to share:
    As I was getting rid of tons of stuff moving, I had a garage sale. One guy came in and I noticed he didn’t have much money and had three foster children (long story). They were thrilled when I gave each kid something for free.

    That night, with plenty of antique furniture left over, I turned to my husband and said lets call this guy up and give him the rest of our stuff. We did. Now, he being grateful, paid it forward. An 1960 console stereo went to a man that was teaching his children all about vinyl Records. That was given to him for free.

    Now that is one example, but as my furniture and “stuff” floated around the neighborhood, each person paid it forward to another either through goods or their services.

    I received a call from a stranger telling me how he was thrilled to get an antique rocking chair of mine. He hunted me down and wanted to pay it forward by helping us load the moving truck.

    Life is good!

    Donna Merrill recently posted…The Blogger’s RolodexMy Profile

  9. I haven’t heard the term in th UK, but I run a spritualist church here and we sing a hymn called ‘if you’re shown a kindness pass it on’ and we all try to do that each day. I make time in my service each week for people to share their kindnesses to others. The film looks good, I’ll watch that.

    Enjoy the journey.

    Mandy Allen recently posted…Is This The Most Important Factor Of Working OnlineMy Profile

  10. Thanks for sharing this story! I may borrow it for my blog!
    I love the pay it forward ethos.
    Back when Illinois tolls were paid with cash (vs. transponder) I used to regulalry pay for the toll of the stranger behind me in line. It was great to see their surprise and then disappeae into the cars up ahead.
    Again, thanks for the smile your post put on my face!

  11. I am a firm believer in paying it forward and teaching my children to do the same. There are many people who need a little random act of kindness. My children will often see someone asking for money or food and instead of just money, we will get something at the store for them to eat. I teach my children no matter how little we have, some have less.
    Elizabeth Scott recently posted…Effective Blog CommentingMy Profile

  12. Hi Arleen

    What an awesome post. Such a moving coffee story and then that trailer. I have not seen the movie but have written myself a note to get it. I love feel good movies.

    I am familiar with the concept and have on the occasion when I lived in Sydney payed for the car behind toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was before they had it all automated. I love the coffee idea.

    Business wise we have never done anything other than donate to various causes but you have me thinking.

    Great post thanks.

    Sue Price recently posted…Is Integrity Important?My Profile

    • Donating to various causes is a form of Pay it Forward. I give promotional products to many different organizations for walk a thons. I think blog posts are wonderful to get us all thinking. We learn something from everyone. Thank you for taking the time to visit
      Arleen recently posted…What does it mean to Pay It Forward?My Profile

  13. Hi Arleen,

    I’ve never come across this before but I do try my own version of pay it forward.

    If we’re renewing some piece of furniture or household equipment I always look around for someone who’s just setting up home. I’ve also given people my old wheelchairs when I hear of people in need.

    Random acts of kindness are so uplifting, both for those giving and receiving.

    I haven’t watched the movie, but I’ve now made a note of it and will see if I can grab it for the weekend 🙂

    This is such a great idea, wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all took part.

    Thanks Arleen,
    Barry Wells recently posted…Share Juice Pro: Our Favourite Social Sharing PluginMy Profile

  14. Hi Arlene,
    I love the concept of Pay it Forward.
    And I loved the movie too.

    It’s a real simple thing we can do to make the world just a tiny bit brighter. What we don’t understand – and would benefit from knowing is that energy, while unable to be experienced by the 5 senses, is very real. When we have the opportunity to be kind in any small way, we can’t actually see what this has done for another, but it’s powerful.

    And when it becomes a chain reaction, it’s a big deal.
    Very inspiring topic. Thank-you for this 🙂
    Dana recently posted…Bullshit – the Road to Enlightenment?My Profile

  15. I love the concept of paying it forward. As I get older I try to pay it forward by mentoring young professionals. The thing about paying it forward is that you get rewarded too because it makes you feel so good to do something for someone else. But paying it forward doesn’t mean expecting something in return. You give freely without the expectation of something back.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Does it Pay to Boost Your Posts on Facebook to Get More Views?My Profile

  16. Arleen, I think that it’s super-nice to donate to charities. Do you ever help to raise awareness for cancer research? If you do, my sister might be interested in helping, since she is pretty active with this, as her baby has cancer. I think you might know this, though, from visiting my blog and reading about Baby Sam and her Relay For Life walk.
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted…Google+ Circles: What You Need To Know About How To Manage ThemMy Profile

  17. Hi Arleen,

    What a fantastic idea 🙂

    I haven’t done it as the idea claims, but been helping folks around me and whom I come across, as I can. I know people are struggling and they might stuck with limited time. But if we all just can spend few minutes to do something for someone else, either by efforts or money, the World will be a better place.

    Did you watch the movie “Machine Gun Preacher”? A true story of one single person risking and fighting for saving lives in Africa by himself. Not a person holds a lot of money either. I always thought about doing something like that in my future while travelling around the World too. As being a movie lover, I’m gonna go get this movie tomorrow. Well, if I can find it 😉

    You have a lovely week ahead Arleen 🙂

    Mayura recently posted…How to Embed Instagram Photos or Videos on Your WebsiteMy Profile

  18. I’ve never heard that expression before – what a wonderful concept. The saddest people in the world are those who don’t realise that you often get more by giving than you do by receiving. Jeannette’s point is important – that it’s about giving for the sake of it, not with the expectation of receiving any reward.

    A very inspirational post, Arleen – and now I want to watch that movie 🙂

    Susan Neal recently posted…Is Your Blog Post Long Enough?My Profile

    • You are correct it is not what we get in return is is about doing good and unexpected for the next person. You can see by what happened in the donut shop the woman who Pay it forward was out of a job, but felt so good in doing something good for a fellow person. You will enjoy the movie. I love movies with messages.
      Arleen recently posted…What does it mean to Pay It Forward?My Profile

  19. I absolutely adore the concept of paying it forward. With so much crap going on in the world, it is a wonderful way to get people thinking about what they can do for good.
    We had a ticket for parking in Europe that had at least an hour left on it, so we passed it on to the person who took our spot. It seemed like a gesture that anyone would do (why wouldn’t you) and yet the gratitude that was received was overwhelming.
    We try to live by this standard and seize situations where we can do something similar to this example.
    Becc recently posted…The world of natural medicineMy Profile

Comments are closed.