How to Give the Gift of Giving GROWING GENEROSITY
H ow do we cultivate generosity in this day and age? This is a question I find myself asking more and more. Certainly, a few big challenges face the world today that I wouldn’t have fully understood as a kid: Climate change, the trade wars and economic uncertainty, and the erosion of the middle class are existential threats we, as individuals, only have so much power to change. It’s easy to draw inward and become fatalistic about the future, which is why I think we need generous action now more than ever. And what better time to start than the season of giving? Since I was about 12 years old, my parents would ask me and my sister what local charities we wanted to support.
thing, but heading out of our middle- class neighborhood and seeing the impact was another. My father
But is this the only way to teach generosity? Do you have to start your kids off at a young age? I don’t think so. I believe giving is a lot like exercise — we all have the capacity to do it at any time, but it’s just a challenge to get started. I have three approaches that can help. First, remember giving doesn’t have to be monetary. Donating your time, your talents, or your treasure can all make a difference. Second, give to causes you believe in strongly — you’ll be more motivated to keep up your support long term. And finally, remember local organizations can still have a big impact. Hunger may be a global issue, but giving to your local food bank helps reduce the number of hungry people in your area. We can all fret over the way the world is changing and the threats of the future, but will that help? I say if we all take a deep breath and do the best we can
was very involved with the Salvation Army in those days, personally driving aid deliveries to communities in need during the holidays. He’d take me with him, and I can’t overstate the effect it had on me.
While I had a pretty upper middle class existence growing up as the son of an attorney and schoolteacher in Albany, Georgia, my parents instilled in me early the importance of volunteering and giving. Bringing boxes of food to poor families each Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly put my privilege into perspective. Before going on those deliveries, I was so preoccupied with what I didn’t have. My father had given me the gift of perspective. Thanks to him, I continue to actively give to charitable causes and volunteer my time to this day.
Maybe this isn’t how most kids would want to kick off the holidays, but I’m so glad this was our tradition. It helped shape who I am today, and the impact I have on those in my community.
“I believe giving is a lot like exercise —we all have the capacity to do it at any time, but it’s just a challenge to get started.”
to give back, we’ll make a better tomorrow. Give it a chance.
Discussing where our family’s dollars could do the most good was one
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