What we think or what we know or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.
Welcome to the final Generosity Habit. We’ve already discussed
- Habit 1: Physical Health,
- Habit 2: Mindfulness,
- Habit 3: Connecting With Others,
- Habit 4: Connecting With Yourself,
- Habit 5: Gratitude.
- and Habit 6: Simplicty.
Finally, it’s time to talk about…
What do you think of when you hear the word philanthropist? Do you think of a group of women who can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower and get together at sophisticated luncheons to donate thousands of dollars to children’s hospitals or art museums? Maybe you think of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge, the effort that’s trying to persuade billionaires to donate half of their wealth?
However, it is not the amount of money you give away that matters. A philanthropist is someone who
- Has a picture of how the world should be.
- Donates with the intention of of bringing that picture to life.
- Takes the necessary steps to evaluate if a particular donation will foster that vision.
You can donate $25 and be a philanthropist, because you took that donation seriously and made an effort to make sure it went to accomplish your goal. And someone could donate $1 million and not be a philanthropist, because that money meant nothing to them and they didn’t care what happened to that donation after they made it. Philanthropy has everything to do with HOW you donate and nothing to do with how much you donate.
In other words, philanthropy is a state of mind, an outlook on the world, and a way of living.
Philanthropy is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where the tongue in your mouth lines up with the tongue in your shoe. If you want to make the world a better place, then you have to DO SOMETHING about it. Philanthropy is you doing something about what you believe so that the world will be a better place
P.S. We’ve made philanthropy easy and effective. Check out our Virtual Giving Circles.
Time or Money?
Is it better to donate money or to volunteer? Some say money is more important and some say time. I say, they’re both right.
When you volunteer, you open yourself up to new experiences that can grow your skills, expand your awareness, and discover new interests. It gives you the opportunity to connect with people and that can change your life and their life in ways you can’t anticipate. Walking dogs at your local animal rescue or serving meals at a homeless are magnificent contributions to your community.
But formal volunteering is not the only way you can give your time. When you mentor a friend’s son who’s graduating from college and looking to get into your field, you give your time. When you write your church’s newsletter or coach your child’s baseball team, you give your time.
Personally, I give my time at Toastmasters. There are thousands of Toastmaster clubs around the world filled with people practicing their public speaking. But I don’t just practice my public speaking. I serve as my club’s president and as the leader for all the clubs in my area. I help new members get comfortable speaking and clubs become more successful in recruiting members. I don’t have to do it. It takes up a lot of my time. But I love it, and I love helping people overcome their fear of public speaking.
Imagine that your neighbor knocks on your door and asks you to help him move next weekend. You might eagerly give him your time or you might groan and do it anyway, or you might say, sorry I don’t have the time to help you. But the important part here, is notice how you feel when you imagine him asking for your time.
Now imagine that same neighbor knocks on your door. This time, he asks to borrow $50 to help make end meets until the next payday comes. How does that feel different. If your like me, I get a little tight in the chest. Ooh, money? You want money from me?
Money is strange, and it does strange things to us. We spend so much of our lives in pursuit of it, collecting it, thinking about it, using it.
How much money we make can comfort us, motivate us, or terrify us. Will there be enough today? this month? in retirement?
Money defines us. Are we poor? in the middle class? rich?
We’re afraid our money will get lost or stolen. We want to keep our money, and we’re afraid someone will take advantage of us and use our money inappropriately.
Oh, the ways money influences our lives, thoughts, and choices, and there is only one way to lessen the power money holds over us, and that is to give it away.
Giving it away, helps you acknowledge that money doesn’t belong to you. You are going to die. And you can’t take it with you. So, really, you are the temporary steward of money, and your job is to care for it and use it while you have it.
It helps you recognize that money is a tool used to provide for and support the things you love.
It helps you realize that money doesn’t define who you are. Your actions define who you are and how you use your money is an action that defines you.
Is it better to give money or time? Both are equally important. If you happen to find yourself with more money than time, than give more money than time. If you have more time than money, then give more time. But always try to give a little of each.
- Brainstorm three causes you feel passionate about. Choose causes that you care deeply about and if your actions helped fix these problems, you’d feel like your life mattered.
- If only one of these could be fixed in your life time, which one would you pick? Do you give time and money to support this cause? If not, why not? What can you do right now to further this cause?
- Check out Change Gangs: Virtual Giving Circles where we make philanthropy an easy, fun, and effective habit.