Until recently, Alison and I didn’t really have a giving strategy. Each month, we’d go over the solicitations that we’d received from various causes in the mail along with how much we had budget for giving. We’d write checks, send them out in the mail, and that was how we did things. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy. People were helped, good causes were able to move forward, and all was well. Lately, I’ve been rethinking our strategy because what was missing was a feeling of connectedness.
Most of us are not called to be missionaries or to run charities, so instead we support those worthy actions materially. Our charitable dollars go towards enabling those who are directly involved in social work to help those who need it most. There is, however, the temptation for us to give money and wash our hands. We need to be connected in a very real way to our giving beyond our signature on the check.
An excellent way for you to be more connected to your giving is to do a sizable portion of it to local charities. Help people in your community, and watch your charitable dollars go to work right at home. This type of giving builds relationships between your family and the charity that you’re supporting, enabling you to perhaps even give of your time as well. Money gets food sent to a food bank, but it doesn’t unbox the food and put it on the shelves. Money buys an ultrasound machine, but it doesn’t talk to the scared pregnant teenager who needs to hear the truth about the baby growing inside of her. We need to do more.
There’s great consolation and beauty in giving of one’s time because, in some way, it’s more difficult than giving of material resources. We place a premium on our time, and so when we give it away out of a spirit of generosity, we’re able to better serve the poor and vulnerable. Plus, an hour of volunteering bears more fruit than an hour of Netflix.
I most value the relationship that’s built between cause and donor. When you build a strong relationship, you’re in a position to shape vision, provide even more financial support, and understand that your donations truly are at work, helping people right where you live.
Our lives are busy, but by giving to local charities both materially and of your time, you’ll make a positive and lasting impact right where you live. Even more importantly, involve your children so that they can have a model of generosity that will shape the kind of adults they’ll become in the not too distant future.