Giving It Forward
Principle of Giving:
Giving as Investment
Desire and discipline activate compassion: compassion with a blessing makes miracles.
“For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
I had a profound lesson in giving the other day. It began in the way that many of our most profound ideas do, within the realm of the ordinary. I was sitting in the bleachers of the small, rural school that was hosting my niece’s basketball game. A friend sat on one side of me and my sister on the other. We were approached during a break in the game.
… a young boy and girl began with my friend, asking , “Would you like to buy a candy bar?”
“Oh, no thank you” replied my friend with a smile. I should mention here that her Canadian accent makes even a rejection feel a bit like a hug from your grandmother. I looked at the candy and also said a polite no to the offer, but thanked them both for having approached us with the opportunity. The kids then turned to my sister and the encounter changed dramatically. She looked up from the box of candy being offered and into the face of the boy. “Why are you selling the candy bars?’
There was an awkward silence. Then my sister offered, “Does the money maybe go to your sports team? Or to a church? Is it possibly for your school?”
Their eyes lit up. “Yes, the money is for school!” said the boy enthusiastically. “It will pay for a class field trip to Seattle!” And the conversation was off and running. We had a great chat with the boy and girl. Ultimately, all three of us followed our heart of compassion and purchased several candy bars.
A happy ending… except that I found myself thinking about my initial reluctance to buy the candy. I’m supposed to be researching GIVING for goodness sake! But even beyond my failure to be a shining example of generosity, something kept tugging at the back of my mind. Then it struck me!
We so often approach giving as a two-point transaction. I give and someone receives. But what dawned on me was the potential of that simple meeting.
What if I observed giving as an investment? What if instead of merely a means to an end, the young children were seen as an investment? My investment in humanity!
I began to see a bigger picture, beginning with my lack of engagement. My sister gave to the children when she engaged them in conversation. That was her first gift, her attention. However, her actions also gave to me and to my friend the gift of awareness.
While thinking about this, I realized the many additional ways I could have made an investment with these children.
What if I had thought beyond my normal giving pattern?
What if I had purchased five candy bars, but had only taken the first one for myself. Then, I could have offered each child the chance to pick their favorite out of the box as a way to bless them for their hard work in raising money for their class. The remaining two candy bars would provide each child with the opportunity to select someone in the gym to receive the candy as their gift. After an evening spent asking for donations, they would be able to approach someone with a surprise gift!
Giving in this manner creates a larger giving circle.
This simple encounter changed my understanding of giving in ways that hours of research had yet to do. I believe this idea of giving as investment is at work in the success of many sustainable charitable projects, the kind of projects that provide ongoing benefits by incorporating those in need as participants and benefactors rather than solely as recipients.
Investments in humanity should form the foundation of our giving.
Charitable projects that can follow this concept allow benefactors to multiply the gifts they give, thus creating a sustainable giving lifestyle and a community that learns to serve one another.
A new perspective on the way we give
- Everyday life brings opportunities to learn more about giving
- Showing an interest in others initiates contagious smiles
- A smile is often the beginning of something more
- Desire and discipline bring success
- Investing in humanity can be as simple as acknowledging the inquiry of a young child
- A simple gift can: satisfy a need, reward a discipline, bless another, and teach giving
- Giving is best understood when it is exemplified
- Investing in humanity brings a high ROI