A random act of kindness is a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.[1]

The phrase "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. It was based on the phrase "random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty".[2] Herbert's book Random Acts of Kindness was published in February 1993 speaking about true stories of acts of kindness.


Examples of events or groupsEdit

  • The Jewish concept of a mitzvah is used colloquially to mean a good deed or an act of kindness. Judaism teaches that "the world is built on kindness." Kabbalistic teaching sees kindness as emerging from the first of seven Divine emotional attributes; to be effective kindness must be balanced and considered,[3] while mercy is also for the undeserving. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson told reporters that to bring the Moshiach sooner, people should "add in acts of goodness and kindness."[4]
  • Caffè sospeso is a tradition in the working-class cafés of Naples where a person who has experienced good luck financially pays for two coffees, but receives and consumes only one, the second being left until a person enquires later whether a sospeso is available.
  • In 1981, NYCPD officer William Fox talked down a suicidal runaway teenager, 17 year old Michael Buchanan, and later adopted him.
  • In 1984, Dobbs Ferry Police officer Robert Cunningham, split a winning lottery ticket with Sal's Pizzera waitress Phyllis Penzo, netting Phyllis approx. $3M. A 1994 romantic comedy, It Could Happen to You starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda was made based on this event but moving the movie's location to New York City.
  • In 2006, the Free Hugs Campaign was made popular by a music video on YouTube.
  • The BBC 1 London News ran a News item entitled "Hampers at the Ready" following The Kindness Offensive event on the 22 December 2008, which saw the group work with seventy volunteers to hand out over thirty-five tonnes of presents to the public at random, as well as many other charities and community groups. The Kindness Offensive suggests that their Christmas event on the 22 December 2008 was the UK's largest ever random act of kindness.[citation needed]
  • An Australian TV-show called Random Acts of Kindness, on Channel 9, shows hosts Karl Stefanovic, Scott Cam and Simmone Jade Mackinnon giving gifts to people they identify as heroes.[5]
  • HelpOthers.org is the home of Smile Cards and a portal of kindness stories, ideas, and online groups. It allows people to send random notes of kindness to others.[6]
  • 2012: The Newton Project attempted to quantify the benefits of the Random Act of Kindness concept in order to motivate people to perform additional acts of kindness.[7]
  • On 14 November 2012 an NYCPD officer, Lawrence DePrimo, was photographed giving socks and a pair of boots he had purchased for a bare-footed homeless man. The photograph later went viral.[8]
  • Started in February 2014, the Feed the Deed campaign has inspired over 10,000 random acts of kindness around the world.[9]
  • A Chicago man, Ryan Garcia, gained a significant following after doing a different random act of kindness each day of the year in 2012. His 366 Randon Acts have spun off into State of Kind, a mission to do an act of kindness in all 50 states in order to raise awareness for 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome. [10][11]

In film and literatureEdit

  • 1993: Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty, a 1993 children's book published by Volcano Press and authored by Anne Herbert, Margaret Paloma Pavel, and illustrated by Mayumi Oda, with a 20th-anniversary edition published in 2014 by New Village Press that includes a foreword penned by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  • 2002: Join Me is a book written by humorist Danny Wallace; in which he tells of the cult he started by accident, the group's purpose is to encourage members (called Joinees and collectively known as the KarmaArmy) to perform random acts of kindness, particularly on Fridays which are termed "Good Fridays". Wallace has also published a book called Random Acts of Kindness: 365 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place.
  • 2007: The film Evan Almighty ends with God telling the main character, Evan, that the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness ("ARK") at a time.
  • 2009: Karen McCombie's book The Seventeen Secrets of the Karma Club revolves around two girls who (inspired by their favourite film Amélie) start up their 'Karma Club', the intention of which, is to do random acts of kindness anonymously.

Negative effectsEdit

There have been several documented cases when random acts of kindness failed to produce good outcomes and have even worsened the situation. For example, in the case of the 2014–15 floods in Southeast Asia and South Asia in Malaysia, random acts of donations were not reaching their intended targets, rather being strewn about and becoming streetside rubbish that further complicated planning, cleanup, and relief efforts.[12] Additionally, people claiming to help others randomly took selfies on social media,[13] sparking a disaster tourism frenzy of "I was there helping",[14] whereby actual relief vehicles were delayed by the excessively clogged traffic. Additionally there was some theft of relief supplies by pilferers pretending to be among the helping.

An explanation for such negative results is that those acts were random rather than coordinated with people who are experts in the task with a bigger picture understanding of needs, resulting in unintended consequences[citation needed].

See alsoEdit