How To Be Great At Giving

Last night I gave a talk to a group of donors about generosity.  The point of the talk was that giving is an area of excellence in our life, just like any other activity.  

Some people are great givers, and others are sporadic to innapropriate.  It’s critical that we approach giving with a Good-2-Great mindset because, after all, there’s only so much time or money in our budget … and the world needs us to punch above our weight.  

Here are 7 ways to be great at giving: 

1. Turn Have-To’s Into Get-To’s: Don’t give out of sympathy or duty.  Your recipients don’t want your charity, they need your support.  When you find yourself at Aristotle’s intersection of purpose (your ability and the greater need), rejoice that you’ve been given an opportunity.  This will produce an attitude of gratitude on your part, and bring you the Helper’s High that generosity can produce. 

2. Give As A Relection Of Your Values:  Don’t give randomly. Focus on the values you hold the highest and concentrate your efforts there.  If you value health, give to a hospital foundation.  If you value community, consider donating time to local cause.  By aligning giving with your values, you’ll possess the tenacity to finish what you start. 

3.  Give All The Time: Generosity, like gratitude, is a spiritual muscle that needs to be worked out constantly.  Don’t let your generosity be a one-and-done phenomenon.  The more you practice generosity, the better you’ll get at making a difference with your assets.  

4. Obsess About Return On Giving (ROG): Think of ROG as the ROI of charity.  If you are donating money, question the flow-through rate of every dollar you give.  Anything less than 80% is likely funding the organization, instead of moving the needle. If you are volunteering, review the results of the projects, to make sure they are worthy of your time.  

5.  Diversify Your Giving Portfolio: If you are in the habit of donating money, diversify your generosity by donating time.  Mentor someone in transition that you can help.  Invest an hour a week into networking others into opportunity.  By combining tangible and intangible giving, you’ll be able to keep doing it even when business/social cycles change your personal situation. Sometimes you’ll have more money and time or vice versa.  In either case, you’ll remain generous . 

6. Talk The Walk: Share what you are doing with your friends and co-workers.  Don’t worry, it’s not bragging if you are helping.  It’s recruiting!  When you share your walk of good with others, you influence them to do the same.  Generosity is contagious, but if you keep it a secret, how can ever catch on?  

For more, read The Power Of Giving