Depending where you are in the development of your business, you may or may not have thought of giving to charity.
On the one hand, when we’re just starting out, we may be struggling just to get by. So giving isn’t really on the radar screen. Instead we think, “Someday, when I’m doing well, then I’ll start giving.”
On the other hand, when we’re doing very well, we tend to hold onto our money, finding it difficult to let go of what we’ve worked hard to obtain.
Whatever our situation, there are always arguments against giving to charity.
Interestingly, we discover that the poor tend to be more charitable than the rich. Such was the finding of Paul Piff, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkley, in a study he conducted in 2010. Obviously, the wealthy have capacity to give more total dollars. But those who have little to begin with are inclined to give away a greater percentage of what they possess.
What does that study and giving to charity have to do with us?
Let me offer you 7 great reasons to give to charity:
- By giving, we express love and kindness toward others. You’ve heard the saying: “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” It’s true. We experience a tremendous sense of joy when we give to others. It’s fun to meet someone else’s need and “taste” the fruit of our generosity. We all want to be more loving. Giving to charity is a great practical way to express our love for others.
- Giving keeps us humble. For when we recognize others’ great needs, we realize how fortunate we are. When we’re successful, it’s easy to become proud and forget where we once were. Yes, we may have worked hard to get where we are. But typically, a lot of other people and circumstances had a hand in helping us achieve our current success. Giving helps us keep that reality in perspective and stay balanced. When we give, we’re reminded how fortunate we are.
- By giving, we promote worthy causes. Of course, this is one of the primary reasons we give. Our gifts might help drill a well to provide fresh drinking water for a village in Africa; or help a homeless family get on their feet again; or “adopt” an orphan in a foreign land, giving them hope for the future. The key here is to give to a charity that tugs at your heart and you feel passionate about.
- When we give, we set a good example for others. We want to be careful here. We don’t want to brag or flaunt our giving before others. But even when we give quietly, others take notice. If we have a family, our children catch the vision of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We can even engage them in the fun. And sometimes our giving can go beyond a check and we can get involved in some “feet-on-the-ground” way to help further the cause that we’re supporting. Our example can profoundly impact others for good.
- Giving builds community. This principle can be expressed in so many different ways. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “No one is an island.” We’re all connected to and somehow dependent on others (in a good way). “We’re all in this together.” “We’re all a part of something much bigger than ourselves.” We want to find ways to “pay it forward.” No matter how we express it, when we give, we show kinship with our fellow human beings and help build a better “village.”
- When we give, we show that money doesn’t own us. There’s a huge difference between being a slave to money or using money to serve us. You can tell when someone is a slave to money. It’s an ugly state of affairs. Money owns them. They’ll do anything for money. Money trumps relationships, ethics, values, you name it. Being a slave to money creates greed, avarice, self-centeredness, and a host of other evils. But when we give gladly, we show money who’s boss. We’re not its slave. Money does not own us.
- Giving helps our bottom line. Though this might be the first reason that many choose to give, I saved it for last. Giving to a recognized charity may provide a tax break. But as we’ve seen, there are plenty of more noble reasons to give. At the same time, if the IRS is willing to reward us for doing what we wanted to do anyway, go for it!
Where to start
If you’re not already giving to a charitable organization or needy individual, do some research. Consider what “turns your crank.” What are you passionate about?
Make a point to look for needs around you. They say that “charity begins at home”. The need you can make a difference for may be right in your town.
Do consider how what you give will be used. What difference will it make? Is the organization you’re thinking about giving to doing a good job meeting the need?
And, don’t give grudgingly. Rather give generously and with joy.
Finally, in my experience, when we decide to do something good like this and we follow through, inevitably we will be tested! Perhaps right after you write that check, an unexpected bill comes in; or someone asks for a refund; or the car breaks down. I warned you, so don’t be surprised. The question is, how will you respond?
Really think of giving as a long-term investment, not a short-term one. Keep giving and watch the difference your giving makes for a cause you care about.
The funny thing is that giving changes us. Connects us with others, with ourselves in new ways. Makes us better. And that will spill over into our business. Sometimes in quite unexpected ways.