The Power of Giving (and why it shouldn’t stop at Christmas)

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
-Acts 20:35b, The Bible

money wrapped with ribbonLast week, shoppers scrambled home from the malls and wrapped their presents, preparing them for “Santa’s” arrival. ‘Tis the “Season of Giving,” but one shouldn’t confuse “consumerism” of the season with “giving” (although a lot of both happen during the holidays.)

Shopping may be done, but GIVING should never stop after presents are unwrapped on the 25th. As a matter of fact, we believe that one cannot experience true prosperity without the power of giving!

How does giving increase one’s prosperity? Let us count the ways! There are very practical reasons to give, such the immense needs in the world, the worthy causes that help meet those needs, and end-of-year tax deductions. But giving is its own “gift” as well – not just for the receiver, but for the GIVER.

Three ways that the power of giving transforms us:

1. Giving changes how we think about money.
Giving breaks the “greed-monster” within. Whenever we might be tempted to think that the game of life is all about how much money we have, the act of giving breaks those patterns and switches our focus. It helps us “put our money where our mouth is” and value money not for what it can buy, but for how it can be used to express our values and bring about change in the world.

And we don’t have to be multi-millionaire philanthropists to make a difference. Indeed, many charities rely on small gifts from many faithful givers.

One of our favorite organizations, Heifer International, allows donors to give amounts as small as $10 for a “share” of a sheep. Gifts can be made on behalf of others, and the money is often specified for the gift of an animal such as a cow, sheep, chicken or goat that can help a family or even a village become self-reliant. Money given for real-world gifts on Heifer.org helps people around the world lift themselves out of poverty through sustainable farming, small businesses, education and more. The video below shows how just one gift can cause a ripple effect that goes far beyond the original dollars given.

2. Giving changes how we think about ourselves.
Rather than seeing ourselves through the lens of “earner,” “saver,” “investor,” or “consumer,” giving causes us to take on the identity of contributor. We become active participants in the missions to which we contribute. Through giving our time, our talents, or our dollars, we stop watching helplessly from the sidelines and start participating in eradicating hunger, re-building homes, or rescuing abused animals.

Giving transforms us from victims and bystanders into co-creators who are actively making a difference in the world. Giving switches our focus from ourselves to others, increases empathy, fulfillment, and even teaches discipline.

In Millionaire Business Women Next Door, author Thomas J. Stanley presents surprising research that reveals that women who gave a generous ten percent of their annual income actually ended up building more wealth than their counterparts who gave only one percent! Stanley also found that these generous givers experienced not only unpredictably higher levels of net worth, but also increased levels of happiness, joy, and respect as well. Instead of being a financial burden, a habit of generous giving actually seemed to produce “dividends” of many kinds!

3. Giving changes how we experience the world.
Giving helps us discover and connect to our purpose in the world. It connects us to others who share those purposes, and empowers us to make a difference together. Now the causes that we give to become our own, and we take literal ownership of the difference our gifts make.

Lynne Twist shares in this video how “giving changed our lives.” Lynn and her husband Bill built a “comfortable” life, but when they started giving, a whole new world opened up for them. Their lives took on much deeper meanings than bettering their tennis games at the Country Club as giving connected them with their core values, friends and loved ones, and to rediscovered purpose.

Lynne’s experience with giving eventually led her to become a fundraiser for The Hunger Project, as well as co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance (along with her husband), and other organizations. Through helping others transform their relationship with money, she has expanded the impact of their own giving exponentially.

Lynne shares of the profound wisdom learned in working with both the poorest of the poor and the wealthiest of philanthropists in her book, The Soul of Money. It’s recommended reading for anyone who wishes to give more, or anyone who wishes to transform their relationship with money and think beyond the paradigm of scarcity.

Born to Give!

True, “the poor will always be with us,” as well as many other kinds of needs. Others need us to give, and the needs of the world don’t stop at Christmas time. But if we think giving is only about the need, only about “the worthy cause,” we have missed the power of giving, the value that giving imparts to the GIVER.

We were created to give. We need to give. Giving is not just about the “worthy cause,” giving transforms us.

Giving Your Way to Prosperity

As the year draws to an end and the new one begins, it’s a great time to ask ourselves if our giving practices reflect our values, our commitments, and the world we wish to live in. Consider these questions:

Where do you give? What charities, organizations or churches would you like to start giving to (or give more to) in 2014? What non-profits feed you spiritually or fund the causes you care about the most?

How much do you give? Does your giving reflect your commitments? Are there ways that you can re-align your spending and giving with your values? What are your giving goals for 2014?

Are you keeping track and maximizing your deductions? Gifts of money as well as goods (sometimes even pro bono work, consult your accountant) can be tax-deductible in many situations. Make sure you have a system in place for keeping track of your giving.

We wish you a Happy New Year filled with Love, Joy, and Peace. May you receive an abundance of good gifts, and may you also come to know the Power of Giving.

Is it time to re-align your financial priorities? We’re here to help. Explore our books, contact us for a short complimentary consultation about a specific issue or question, or explore The Prosperity Pathway, our one-on-one proprietary process for detailed, individualized help.

“Typical financial planning” doesn’t work… but Prosperity Economics does! Discover the difference today.

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