Giving In Hard Financial Times
Generosity advisor Kathy LeMay on making giving a priority, even when it seems impossible.
"Starting now, allow creativity to take a driver’s seat in your thinking about making a difference."
If market strain or life changes have you concerned about giving, you may be tempted to cease contributing time or financial support toward your favorite causes until the economic storm passes. When money is more readily available, we ask ourselves which organizations are most in need of your dollars; but when money is tight or our employment status has changed, we wonder if we can give it all.
Within this current economic situation we are offered a powerful opportunity. Today, we must think about new ways to do more with what we have. Starting now, allow creativity to take a driver’s seat in your thinking about making a difference. Access the deepest parts of your generous self to move past the “can I afford to give or can’t I afford to give?” mentality. Move to the joyful place of “I can give.”
I know many people who have found creative and innovative ways to give despite having felt the pinch of the economic downturn. Chris, Michelle, Julia, Regina, and Al all challenged themselves to remain generous despite their own hardships. Here’s how you can too.
Focus on what you can give
Don’t worry if you can’t give as much as you used to, in either time or money. Instead focus on what you can give. Chris realized he could afford to buy an extra bag of groceries at the store while he was doing his own shopping. He then delivered that bag to a food pantry on his way home. Michelle put an empty coffee can on her kitchen counter, cut a slit in the plastic top, and began dropping in coins and dollars. Once a month, she empties out the coffee can, adds up the dollars and coins, deposits it into her bank account, logs onto her computer, and makes a contribution of that exact amount to her favorite cause.
Both Chris and Michelle have enjoyed these practices so much that Chris now shops for the food pantry twice a month, Michelle starts off the new coffee can fresh each month, and both have shared these ideas with friends who are doing the same.
Focus on what you can, and you will feel the joy of “doing what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Determine what you can afford to do
In 2008, Julia made several pledges to her favorite organizations that she would pay out in 2009. Then, Julia’s job went from full-time with benefits to part-time without benefits. When it came to her charitable giving she felt uncertain how to proceed. She couldn’t fulfill the gifts she had pledged but felt that by not giving her pledge she was abandoning her favorite organizations.
The solution for Julia? Within the parameters of her new budget, Julia determined what she could afford to do this year by looking at her life budget and determining the percentage of her total budget that giving could occupy. Julia calculated the percentage of earnings that go to her everyday expenses, then added in a “generosity” category. This year, Julia’s generosity line item is two percent. Based on this Julia calculated that she can meet her 2009 pledges in three years. By creating what was achievable instead of focusing on what felt impossible, Julia rediscovered the joy of giving even in difficult financial times. She knows that in the coming years she will bounce back and recover her earnings. She will be flexing her giving muscle to ready herself for better economic days when she can grow her generosity percentage. Until then, Julia will continue to feel connected to her greatest passions that will feed her heart and soul. . . .