Why is giving so important?

I try to read on a regular basis and I have recently begun reading the book “The Paradox of Generosity” by Christian Smith.  I find philanthropy to be a fascinating topic and I was introduced to that topic over 20 years ago when I began one of the best journeys of my life with the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.  More about that in another post, but for today we will discuss the concept of giving and why it is important.

There are many ways we can give.  A few are listed below:

  • giving financially to a church or other service organization
  • giving of our time to others as a volunteer
  • giving of our time to friends and family members
  • paying the ultimate price by giving our life for another’s sake

I am sure you can think of other examples, but I will focus my effort on these for this morning.  Let’s look at each of these briefly.

Giving financially has both extrinsic and intrinsic value.  The extrinsic value is simple in that many non-profit organization giving results in a tax deduction to lower your taxable income.  The more substantial reason, at least for me, is to see my investment/contribution go toward making things better for someone else in an area or effort that has meaning to me.  I try to be charitable and give to my church first, but I also have a handful of organizations I support that involve the development of young people, especially in the STEM areas.  I see this area as being underserved and I find great satisfaction in seeing opportunities provided for others through my giving.

Giving of my time can be coupled with a financial gift or it can be totally separated.  I mentioned my giving of financial resources in the STEM area earlier and I also volunteer my time in several of these initiatives.  By giving of my time I get to meet many young people who have dreams that can be supported and nurtured not only with financial resources, but also with the giving of time and advice.  The ACE Mentor program is the key recipient of my time and financial giving in this area.  I also give of my time with a career transition group at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, TN.  I get far more from my giving than I will ever provide.

Giving of time and other resources to friends and family member can be overlooked by many of us.  As our country becomes less tightly knit by migration and moving we find that many of us don’t even know our neighbors.  Additionally, we lose track and touch with our relatives and don’t keep in touch and seek out opportunities to help one another.  I remember well growing up in a neighborhood with three of my dad’s sisters living on the same block.  Our four families did many things together and we really supported one another well.  This setup is more of an exception rather than the rule in those I know now.

Paying the ultimate price is usually thought of in the service of our country.  Again I refer to my father’s generation and the fact that he and many of his friends served in World War 2 going to either the European or Pacific regions to fight for the freedom of others.  Many of their friends paid this ultimate price to provide the freedom we often take for granted now.  Their times were tough, but the long term benefits cannot be replicated.  We can also serve others in this way through organ donation after our life in this world stops.  I find that this is often overlooked in the eyes of many.

Being generous with our time, talent and treasure is a concept I learned from one of my mentors, the late George Goyer, while with the YMCA.  George was a great role model and many of the concepts I embrace today when it comes to my generosity and philanthropy were given root through my friendship with George.

My hope for you is that you too will find a philanthropic mentor who can guide you in making the best choices for your time, talent and treasure.  In another post later this week I’ll share just why you might want to do this.  The bottom line is this; you will feel better and be more successful as a result.  In addition, it is just the right thing to do.