I think we have a misconception about giving. Books, motivational gurus, and even charities make it sound so simple, so effortless. We should want to give. It’s as if it should come natural to us. And if it doesn’t, we think we’re selfish. In turn, we get depressed and feel less like a human being and more like an animal Darwin observed when creating his theory of evolution. It reminds me of the TV commercial that pokes fun at the women’s health commercials that make a woman’s menstrual cycle seem like sunshine, rainbows, and flowers. 2 huge misconceptions.
The physical and mental decision prior to giving actually hurts a little. It’s not your fault. Blame your ancestors. Our “lizard brain”, as Seth Godin calls it, takes over and reminds us only the strong survive. So we automatically begin calculating what we could be using our money for instead of giving it as donation. At Ageless, we’re as guilty as anyone. Even though we sincerely want to improve the community, we still get squeamish about donations. Automatically, we start thinking about our mortgage on the building, an unpaid utility bill, a credit card that should probably be paid off, etc. It’s a painful battle between good and evil.
How do we win the battle? We found out real quick if we didn’t have a system in place, we lost more battles than we won. So, we put a simple system in place. Donations quickly became an expense on our P&L statement. We basically added them as a separate category into our monthly budget. Much like the monthly water bill, we put them in the forecast for the upcoming year. Thus, we had to “spend” the money in the donation expense account each month, just like we had to pay the mortgage bill. Simple, yet effective.
The true beauty of giving isn’t the decision prior to the donation; it’s the feeling after making the donation. Time and time again, research studies have concluded that those who give their time or money to a charity lead happier, healthier lives. There’s just something about being a part of something bigger than you. As Daniel Pink, author of Drive, said, ““And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice – doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in a service of a cause larger than ourselves.”
So, don’t be ashamed if you don’t give as much as you’d like. It’s really not your fault. Simply put a system in place, and not only will you give more, but you’ll be a lot happier in return.
I think the worst thing you can do in life is go to your grave with a bank account full of money. Think of all of the happiness you would miss out on. Think of all of the people you could have helped. Think of the difference you could have made.
Give, give some more, and then give until it hurts. You and your community will be better because of it.