While I feel like the Christmas decorations have been up in Walmart and Home Depot since the 4th of July, if you haven’t been inundated yet with consumeristic, holiday-related advertising, you soon will.
And nothing is more frustrated about giving, getting, giving back, and taking back presents that it happening during the season itself.
So, here’s a couple candid, non-prescriptive thoughts on ways you can perhaps make a difference and consider doing something different, meaningful, and more effective this year as you consider your generosity. I hope you walk away thinking, and perhaps extending your hand in natural, meaningful ways that make sense to you personally.
YES, YOU CAN
When most folks think of generosity, they often think, “I have nothing to give,” “I can’t make a difference,” or, “they don’t need me.”
Stop. Yes, you can.
This is like wanting to be healthy and not going to the gym. Your mind is at war with your heart, and you’ve overthinking it. You’ve got to start by thinking, “Yes, I can.”
“Yes, I can give. Yes, I can make a difference, Yes, they do need me.”
TODAY & TOMORROW
Now that I’m starting to get pumped up, I really like thinking in terms of “today & tomorrow.” This clever mantra is awesome when it comes to generosity. The level of work it requires is minimal, but incredibly effective.
For instance, I choose one small action, and one small response. For example,
- Today I will clean out my pantry, and tomorrow I’ll take it to the food bank. Or, another example…
- Today I will go through my children’s clothes, and tomorrow we’ll drop them off at Goodwill (or other local organization).
- Today I will pick up some gloves and scarves, and tomorrow I will stop and give them to a homeless person if I see them.
Its non-prescriptive. One size doesn’t fit all, and the opportunities that you have are limited to only your imagination and your ability to research, ask, and think.
TIME, TREASURE, & TALENT
Forgive the alliteration, but when it comes to giving, I like to think on three plains––my time, my treasure (money), and talent (skills + abilities).
It won’t be soon until you’ll see the Salvation Army volunteer ringing, or even getting a call from a local organization. Don’t be mad. They know that they HAVE to capture people while giving and generosity is more likely on their minds, and while they’re doing shopping. This is OK.
But, consider the opportunity for you to find a place that doesn’t first and foremost need your money. Instead, think about time.
- How much free time do you have?
- Could you carve out some time during the week to share yourself with someone, someplace?
This doesn’t have to be anything you feel gifted at. It can be reading to children, volunteering in an after school program, or simply just showing up and asking what can be done, or what they need. Just show up. That’s the most important thing.
When it comes to things you’re passionate about, or good at, think about what you enjoy–what you’re good at, or the reason your friends and family come to you for help. You may be good with people, ideas, physical / mechanical objects, or numbers. You certainly could offer this as well.
Personally, I love kitties. I didn’t realize this until I was older, and got my first cat. Then, I discovered the needs that many feral, abandoned, sheltered, and non-spayed / neutered cats have. There were so many options. All I needed to do was find the kitties. Or find the homes that wanted to adopt a forever cat/ kitten. I even rescued seven cats on my own. I learned so much, and discovered I truly enjoyed it.
I’m also good at ideas, so I started a program where I could donate professionally my services to deserving local organizations. And while I like this, there’s more opportunities outside of my profession. I love camping. Cooking. Being a host / entertaining. Once I knew what I love, now I can participate with youth organizations camping, cooking at local events, or hosting a community meeting and meeting neighbors or allowing a space for conversations about organizations to occur.
When it comes to money, when my time and talent are involved, its so naturally to want to get involved, and give. But then, there’s organizations, where they may have the staff, or geo-locationally, I can’t participate. So, those are the ones that I WANT to give to. Rehabilitating boys + children in a war-torn country from children armies? Yes, please, sign me up. Helping drill water wells in Sierra Leone? Yes, that’s my family, I’ll support them. I may NOT have the skills, but I connect with their passion and purpose––not their request for money, first and foremost.
So, let’s recap. First, let’s remember, yes, you can. Then, do something today and tomorrow. You can do this as often as you’d like. Try it once a week. Then twice a month. Then, as often as you can think to. It’ll change your life, and most importantly, many others.
Lastly, start considering what organizations you want to donate––your time, money, and passions to consistently this next week. Next month. And if you like it, continually for a couple months. Start one day at a time. That’s all we have to truly give.