In 2013, we decided to give away a small percentage of our taxable income. We’re going to try again in 2014. Here’s what I learned…
To make giving happen, I need a budget. Having the budget also makes me more willing to give because I don’t get caught in a cycle of thinking I “can’t afford” to help or thinking that our giving is too small to make a difference.
I need to remember the giving makes a greater difference to the giver than to the recipient.
The process we used was:
- Decide on an annual amount
- Split into monthly allocations
- Give monthly
Small gifts offer the most satisfaction. This surprised me. The easiest way to describe the positive sensation is…
- The spirit moves me to give
- I’m open to that feeling
- I give
- I feel good (by not having to close myself to not give)
The size of the gift isn’t important for the “feel good” and I try to always have dollar bills with me. Here’s The Dollar Game that my wife and I played.
What seems to be most important is being open to receive a call to give, then heeding that call.
Giving is a learning process. I had some gifts that didn’t work out from my end and I learned from them. I can group them into categories…
Facilitating something I don’t believe in – giving money to alcoholics so they can buy booze, for example. That didn’t work out well for me. Sitting here now, I don’t regret those gifts but think it was a good decision to keep them small.
Some people, and institutions, don’t need help. An example, might be giving money to a wealthy alma mater, a for-profit corporation, or an inefficient charity. With individuals, struggle is what gives meaning to life, and valuable feedback. I’ve had a poor hit rate with individual sponsorships.
This year, 90% of the money and 100% of the time that we gave away worked for us. That’s an outstanding return for the first year. So I want to remember…
- Have a budget
- Keep it small and frequent
- Stay open to helping
- Learn from the process