Americans just celebrated Thanksgiving and then went on a spending spree. Black Friday spending was a record $9.12 Billion and Cyber Monday spending hit $11.3 Billion! That’s over $20 Billion in spending this year. Immediately following Cyber Monday came Giving Tuesday.
The idea of giving back, for many, is a strange thought. Honestly, it’s not in our nature to give. From the time we are babies we are always saying the word, “Mine!” and we cling to things that others are trying to take away from us. Just look at a 2 year old.
They say it is better to give than to relieve and yet, if we are honest, we don’t believe that is true. It’s great to receive. It’s wonderful to win something or to be given something we did not earn. It just is. It’s called selfishness and we are experts at it.
So when I hear people say that they do not have money to give, I think, “Yeah right! You just don’t want to give!” And I don’t think I am wrong.
All of us have margin. I have margin. You have margin. I love the story in the Bible about the poor widow giving her “mite” at the temple. Unlike the rich who donated large sums for attention from the wealth they had, she gave two coins from her poverty. Jesus said she gave more than all the rich combined. (Mark 12:41-44).
I can’t remember the findings of a study that I read over a decade ago but what I remember clearly is that the middle and lower classes in our country donate a higher percentage of their income to charitable giving than the rich. Most wealthy give very little.
Here is a case in point. I frequently review financials for clients for business. It’s rare that I find a wealthy client who gives significantly. One stuck out to me in particular. This family earned nearly $1M and had ZERO charitable giving logged on the tax returns. While I cannot know for sure if they gave in other ways, the fact remains that nothing was claimed on that years’ tax returns.
On the other hand, many very wealthy people give publicly for the appreciation of and the applause of others. They want to be noticed. An individual once told me they had donated $200,000 to a cause. I think he was looking for praise from me. I didn’t praise him, however, and knowing this person’s wealth, challenged him to give $2M. We didn’t talk much after that conversation. Perhaps he didn’t like my challenge and I’m not sure what he chose to do.
Why is it that we are inclined to keep and not to give?
Perhaps it’s selfishness as I’ve already said. Perhaps it’s fear of loss so we keep everything we can. On the other hand, perhaps it’s simpler because we haven’t experimented with the idea.
So here it is. If you are still reading this and you are not one who is in the habit of giving, I challenge you. Start today. Give 2% of your income to charity. Then increase it.
As a Christian, I donate first to my home church. After that, other organizations and people get our financial gifts.
If we, as Americans, donated just 2% of what was spent this week, that would be $400 Million in donations. We do have the money to give, we just need to give it.
So give and give generously. Don’t wait until your death to give it all away. Give to those in need today. Do it privately. You can do it and you will make a difference in someone’s life.