The Live to Give Campaign, run by the BBT Marketing, Communications and Innovations team, has smashed its 2 million Gita goal, distributing 2,172,456 copies of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is around the world.
Over 250 ISKCON communities in more than 55 countries participated, between September 17th 2020 and January 7th 2021. The campaign also commemorated Gita Jayanti, or World Gita Day, on December 25th.
Live to Give was a phenomenally successful effort to get devotees all around the world to work together towards one goal. Full-time sankirtan devotees, travelling sankirtan parties, children, homemakers, and congregation members who work full-time and do book distribution during their evenings and weekends all participated.
Although book distributors were at first concerned at the beginning of the pandemic that restrictions would see book distribution plummet, they soon became expert at creative ways to get Prabhupada’s books out to people safely, and many saw numbers increase instead.
During the Live to Give Campaign techniques included contactless deliveries; distribution over the phone; calling parties in which devotees supported each other via Zoom while calling contacts; and online distribution on social media and websites.
Devotees also set up book tables outdoors using COVID-safe practices wherever it was permissible; delivered gift packs to neighbors; and distributed books to customer-facing businesses such as grocery stores, lawyers, and realtors, who bought books by the caseload to give to their clients for New Year’s.
In addition, devotees distributed Bundles of Gratitude to frontline workers. Each special package included books, prasadam, a mantra meditation card, and an invitation to the Bhakti Community Online.
2020 also saw distributors marrying first-contact book distribution with follow-up. “Our intention is to connect the two so that they are one and the same process,” says Vaisesika Das, Global Duty Officer for Book Distribution. “There are so many sincere people who are reading the books and will need an accommodating place to go, so that they can start their practice and continue it throughout their life.”
Vaisesika hopes to increase such follow-up in 2021, as well as the number of books distributed and the effort to work together as a global team.
“We made breakthroughs in the way that we worked together as a team internationally,” Vaisesika says. “Devotees were surprised how good it felt to work all over the world together towards a common goal, and we were able to peek inside and see some of Prabhupada’s vision – that the world could actually be inundated with transcendental literature – in a much bigger way than we have done in the past.”
He adds: “It made us feel that we are free to expand our expectations for increasing book distribution as much as we like – as long as we are willing to work together, plan, and incrementally improve the process. We feel Lord Caitanya’s presence in the process, and we are very certain now that He will carry whatever we lack and preserve what we have, because it’s His mission. He wants it done, and Srila Prabhupada wants it done. All we have to do is work together, be enthusiastic, and be very organized.”