It’s that joyous season when everywhere you look, people are smiling, laughing and — asking you for money.
Most of us want to give. And with a little effort, could probably find ways to do it. But then we’re faced with the common predicament of figuring out the details. And then come the questions. Why do you want to give? What do you want to give? How do you want to give? Read more, ‘A Christmas Sale That Is Out Of This World.’
In this guide, our goal is to help you come up with answers to all those questions and set a plan for giving that works for you. Read more, ‘Our Essential Guide to Celebrating This Season.’
Guilt-Free Giving, With a Plan
Grab a pen and a sheet of paper. This year, you’re giving is going to be driven by thought, not guilt. Requests for donations are everywhere. Flyers from the Salvation Army, the Red Cross in your mailbox, charity coin boxes every society under the sun, and in front of the register at your local restaurant.
“Would you like to make a donation to…”
“No. No, I don’t want to make a donation. I mean yes, I do.” People are looking at you… judging you… are they donating?! How much? And then, are you just going to donate because of social pressures? That doesn’t seem right… Suddenly you’re feeling awkward. Assuming that you are able to GIVE, and, that you also WANT to give….why do we find the topic of giving so frustrating?. Most people are aware of their good fortune, and empathetic (to some degree or other) to those less fortunate around them – but the topic of giving remains frustrating despite most of us being able and willing. It’s because we never took the time to create our own plan.
Having a plan is not foolproof, but it will certainly prevent some of this frustration.
Here’s one way to think about it: Next time some stranger accosts you on your way to the shops asking you for a donation, you can weigh that against your plan and either feel totally comfortable giving (if it matches your plan), or say “Thank you, I’ve chosen to give in other ways.”
Did you know that giving may be the secret to happiness? Try THIS. Imagine you’re at the supermarket. There are aisles with loo paper and light bulbs, and others with fruit and biscuits, teas and cheeses. You’ve got an empty cart, and you’re ready to get what you need. But wait — you don’t even know why you’re there. Now, what are you going to put in your cart? Whether giving to a charity, or putting together an investment portfolio, if you don’t know why you’re doing it, it’s hard to know what to do, or how to do it. The ‘why’ is the foundation. Read more, ‘A Guide to the 100 Best Christmas Gifts of all Time.’
Once you’re clear about why you’re giving, the actual act of giving becomes not just easier, but so much more enjoyable, and rewarding.
Because it is done with intention. We could tell you why we would give. But that’s not the point. The point is to figure out that answer for yourself. If you’re having trouble coming up with a good enough reason to motivate you to give, that’s alright. No one’s here to judge you. But we would remind you that there’s a pretty well-documented benefit to you. In fact, according to Time Magazine, giving is the secret to happiness.
The secret to happiness? What other reason could you need?
So let’s start planning out your giving intentions to help you document your motives and structure for giving throughout the year. That way when you’re asked to give, you don’t have to rethink it each and every time. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and up at the top, jot down an answer to the question, Why do I give?
Christmas is one of our most generous calendar months. Why do we give? Many motives drive kind actions. We might give to impress our friends or curry favour. To at least some extent, we also give to help make the world a better place.
Giving reinforces kindness. Generosity not only makes givers feel good, but reduces their stress level and even extends their lives.
But if you give without emotion — out of, say, a sense of duty — you may miss out on the benefits. So only if your kindness is driven by genuine concern for others do you really reap the rewards. So think hard about why and with whom you want to give to this year. Turn your generosity to those you want to give to. We always give to the Salvation Army because we want to. There are certain other charities we like supporting. Choosing to give in this way aligns passion and principle. It expresses our values and allows us to leave room for more instinctive forms of kindness, which means we’re actually doing ourselves a favour, too.
This is an edited excerpt from The New York Times.