As we prepare to enter into the season of giving and a time when every store, commercial, ad, and relative is suggesting we spend money – what can we do to either make giving more interesting or keep from simply glazing over and numbing ourselves to the multitude of opportunities all around us?
I think the answer depends on your head space and how much you want to consider the idea of giving. Let me highlight 3 possible scenarios you may find yourself in as you approach the Christmas holidays.
1. You don’t typically give but find yourself at least open to it this year.
To you I say – high five. You don’t need to be wealthy or an expert giver to discover something unexpected and to make a small difference. Before glazing over or becoming overwhelmed (category #3) let’s decide that if you’re going to try this out and give to something, you may as well make it something you’re interested in. Forget the actual charity for the moment and ask yourself – if I had to give money to a particular cause or activity, what would naturally resonate with me? Begin with some simple questions – What interests me? What do I typically spend my time on? What are some of my personal passions and hobbies? Give to something that you have a real interest in and see if that becomes more meaningful for you.
2. Too late – You’re already overwhelmed and exhausted.
To you I say – I hear you. There are many reasons we can get overwhelmed with the idea of giving, especially over the holiday season. One reason could be all of the different messaging and voices coming at you all at once. Letters in the mail, emails, commercials…. blogs (smile) all showing great needs ‘out there’ and right here at home. So many needs + I’m just one person = I give up. But hold on a moment. Before you walk away, grant yourself the freedom to accept that you can’t do everything. It’s not possible. Instead, if you’re overwhelmed, pick one small thing you can do. And then do that one small thing. And if you make it personal then even better. Maybe it has nothing to do with money – a small gesture like helping someone in some way, shoveling a driveway, giving a compliment, writing an email. Start small, make it personal, and see if grows from there.
3. You want to try something new and get creative with your giving.
To you I say – set no limits. If you really want to do something creative and different then remove any natural limitations you may place on yourself. I don’t just mean think BIG – it doesn’t need to be BIG. Many great initiatives have been started by people who just wanted to try something new. If it’s as simple as wanting to find new charities, check out sites like CanadaHelps.org and use their search engine to narrow your search. Maybe you want to get more creative. I saw someone recently buy Tim Hortons gift cards on their birthday and give them away to those in need downtown. A friend of mine just used a toonie I gave him and turned it into a few thousand dollars by trading up and tapping his network. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little creativity and a decision to act. Share your idea with friends and you’re really moved by it – they will be too.
We can all do something, no matter what camp we find ourselves in this holiday season. Give it some thought. Be inspired. Challenge yourself if your’e ready. Or take one small step if that’s all you’ve got. Those who do will find that often we are the ones most impacted by the small gestures and gifts we give.