The Broke Girl’s Guide to Charitable Giving

Yes, it’s the holidays. Yes, Christmas is less than a week away. And yes, I know we are all spent (physically and financially) as a result. That makes this the perfect time to talk about charitable giving.

My husband and I have never lived “in the black” so to speak. We got married in college. After graduation, I worked in a non profit and he became a teacher. Now, I’m a stay at home mom. Not exactly a “get rich quick” formula if you know what I mean.

My husband, though, no matter what our financial situation, has always been a generous person. True, he doesn’t handle the bills and check book so to say he doesn’t alway have one foot rooted in reality is an understatement. However, I have found that using our “reality” as an excuse not to give, is really not an excuse at all. It’s just selfishness.

Through following my husband’s lead, and through a lot of soul searching, I’ve found myself starting to get the hang of the whole generosity thing. I’ve realized that generosity and giving has this wonderful compounding and transforming power.

Look up the word ‘compounding’ on Google, and you will see this definition:

The ability of an asset to generate earnings, which are then reinvested in order to generate their own earnings. In other words, compounding refers to generating earnings from previous earnings. Investopedia

I can’t think of a better way to describe the amazing and transformative power of giving than through this definition. Although, granted, it sound counterintuitive – giving is one of the best investments you can make. Simply put, when you give and are generous, you create a cycle or attitude of giving in both yourself and the recipient.

Giving begets giving. 

You might be thinking how great this all sounds, but wonder how to give when you can barely pay for the necessities in your life. Trust me, I get it. I’ve been there. (Actually, I’m still there.)

The thing is, we all have something to give.

We all. Have something. To give.

We might not have huge bank accounts, savings accounts or investment portfolios, but we all have that loose change in our car or the crumpled dollar in our pocket. We throw around the term “broke” alot, but really, many of us aren’t broke, we just aren’t affluent. That’s a big distinction. There are plenty of people who are truly broke – who don’t have a home, money for food, or all the many things we describe as necessities.

And yet, the poorest people in this world aren’t the ones with the littlest in the bank, but the ones who refuse to share what they do have. If your bank account is looking particularly worn out and sad, there are still plenty of ways to be generous. You just have to be a little more creative and intentional! So, without further ado, I give you:

The Broke Girl’s Guide to Charitable Giving

  • Give at the checkout. This holiday season, I’ve committed to responding with a cheerful “yes!” each and every time I’m at the checkout and asked to donate a dollar or round up to the nearest dollar. No hesitation. No wondering how my money would be used. No thinking about how I really wanted to go get a cup of coffee with that money. I may not be able to write a large check to my favorite charities, but I can give a dollar here and a dollar there. And, coming from a nonprofit background, I know how quickly those dollars can add up!
  • Give to bell ringers. Same idea as before, but this time with the Salvation Army bell ringers. Commit to giving all your loose change each time you pass one. (Come on, you know you always have loose change around!) Or, take it one step further and purchase bell ringers hot chocolate or coffee, and then donate the spare change from your purchase! Double giving! I recently gave Theo some money to give to a local bell ringer. I don’t think my heart has ever been so warmed as it was by the sight of my three year old, gleefully running up to the pot, depositing his dollar, and yelling “Merry Christmas!”
  • Give at church. If you are a regular church-goer and tither, commit to adding a designated amount to each check (on top of your normal giving). Again, don’t discredit the smallest of giving. These small actions build momentum in your own heart, as this attitude is cyclical and compounding. The more you give, the more you want to give.
  • Give to friends and family. Invited places this Christmas and holiday season? Take a gift for the host. Bring along food. Bring flowers. Anything to show that you are thinking of others and appreciate their presence in your life. Nothing breaks the ice, warms hearts, and starts things off on the right foot like bringing a gift!
  • Give to people who don’t normally make your gift list. This list includes the people whom you see on a regular basis, but wouldn’t normally think to give a gift. To start, think of something small and affordable – but also fun and festive – that you can make and pass out to others (like this). Give these gifts to your mailman, your hairdresser, the instructor at your yoga class (hint, hint), your waitress at your next meal out, or your favorite Starbucks barista. Sometimes people don’t know how to respond to such unprompted gestures of kindness because sadly, they are so rare. Don’t let that stop you! Let your love and generosity flow. People may respond with an awkward or shocked look, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate it. And…it certainly doesn’t mean it should stop us from giving.

Nothing brings life back into proper perspective like acts of generosity.We all have something to give to others. The smallest of donation is still a gift to someone. Your life, your very presence here on this earth is a gift. This holiday season, let’s shift the focus from getting to giving. Living a rich life has nothing to do with money, after all. Be rich this Christmas, and give, give, give.

One thought on “The Broke Girl’s Guide to Charitable Giving

  1. *This is one of my favorite things about the holiday – getting creative in how you can give. I use to think that since I couldn’t give something to everyone there was no point in even trying. Before the Christmas season started I knew there were certain people I wanted to give to, whether that be a card, chocolate, my time or money. I think just showing a genuine act of kindness to those around you gives more than any expensive gift you can buy. Merry Christmas my friend & here’s all the great things coming in 2015!

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