Nipun Mehta is the founder of Service Space, an incubator of projects that
works at the intersection of volunteerism, technology and gift-economy.
What started as an experiment with four friends in the Silicon Valley has now grown to a global ecosystem of over 500,000 members that has delivered millions of dollars in service for free. Nipun has received many awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Wavy Gravy's Humanitarian award, and Dalai Lama's Unsung Hero of Compassion. Nipun is routinely invited to share his message of "giftivism" to wide ranging audiences, from inner city youth in Memphis to academics in London to international dignitaries at the United Nations. For his relentless generosity and service, his compassion-forward practices, and his commitment to mindful living, we are honored to have NIpun as our 2019 Visionary of the Year and role model of living in Oneness.
Nipun’s mission statement in life is to "bring smiles in the world and stillness in my heart.” Centered and anchored in stillness and service, Nipun states he wants to “live simply, love purely, and give fearlessly.” This mission largely manifests through small, collective acts of kindness through ServiceSpace.
Inspired Radical Acts: Making the Idealistic Realistic,
the Impossible Possible
As we witness daunting challenges in the world catalyzed by corruption, greed, and violence, the time is ripe for examples of radical generosity and collective transformation of how we support one another in community. Nipun serves as a beacon of light and hope, a leader in how living and breathing generosity opens opportunities for deep connection and true sustainability.
Dissatisfied by the dot-com greed of the late 90s, Nipun went to a homeless shelter with three friends to "give with absolutely no strings attached." They ended up creating a website, and also an organization named ServiceSpace. Over the years, they built thousands of websites for nonprofits but also started incubating a diverse set of projects that included online portals DailyGood and KarmaTube, offline movements like Smile Cards, a pay-it-forward rickshaw in India, and Karma Kitchen restaurants in three cities across the US.
In 2001, at the age of 25, Nipun quit his job to become a "full time volunteer." He didn't have a plan of survival beyond six months, but so far, so good.
In January 2005, Nipun and Guri, his wife of six months, put everything aside to embark on an open-ended, unscripted walking pilgrimage in India, to "use our hands to do random acts of kindness, our heads to profile inspiring people, and our hearts to cultivate truth." Living on a dollar a day, eating wherever food was offered, sleeping wherever a flat surface was found, the couple walked 1000 kilometers before ending up at a retreat center, where they meditated for three months.
“In serving others, we'll find ways to stay connected.”
It is difficult to imagine what life as a full time volunteer can be. Visionaries and innovators like Nipun open eyes and hearts to what is possible if we allow ourselves to let go of the systems we know and are often surrounded by, to flow with the river of possibilities in our lives and lead from the heart. Lead from service. Nipun’s radical generosity reminds us that our modern-day networks provide tools for creating, nourishing, and sustaining community. When we lean into these networks and uplift the core value of Oneness, we unlock potential and unleash innovation that can change our world.