How do you spend your money? The forbidden, mysterious, never-asked question. i’m not quite sure why, but that’s a subject for another post.
In this one, all i want to do, is encourage you to be intentional with your money and to choose some good things and people to spend it on in 2017.
Recently i wrote about five different areas we can look to be proactive in that will help us have a Super Rad 2017, namely Time, Money, Energy, Engagement and Stuff ‘n Things. For a slightly deeper look at those, you can click here.
Then yesterday i looked a little more indepthly [it’s a word!] at Mentorship, or as i like to call it, Mentoreering. Choosing some people to walk alongside so that you will both grow and be transformed and hopefully help others to be as well.
But today i want to take a brief slightly more in depth look at money. And more specifically, Generosity.
Would you describe yourself as a generous person?
As you head into 2017, i think a helpful way to go about this is to look back at 2016 and see how you did when it comes to money. Did you give any of yours away? Do you regularly give in a way that it just gets taken off your bank account and it just kind of happens in the background? Are you someone who likes to be a little more hands on in your giving – so you give to people, projects and organisations that you know and trust and believe in?
If you give via a church or non-profit organisation, then how clued up are you on how exactly they use your money? If you sponsor a person or family then how much do they stay in touch to let you know how what they are doing is going?
When tbV [the beautiful Val] and i were in Americaland for the second eighteen month stint, we had to raise a certain amount of support so that we could work with the non-profit organisation we worked with. When we returned to SA we thanked people for their generous contributions and let them know they could stop. Three of them decided to continue to support us and with us both working largely part-time [in terms of money in, if not work out] that proved really helpful in terms of freeing up our time to be able to give to the things we really believed in, in terms of work and volunteering.
So we have definitely been on the receiving end [which has been a constant theme in my life actually, some really generous people helping us out with some incredible gifts along the way as we do life] and as a result we want to make sure that we are on the giving end as well.
Our giving is divided into three areas – we support people [we believe in, doing things we believe in], organisations and projects. Giving to a church [in terms of a Sunday congregation] has been an area we have both wrestled with for the last number of years [the idea that so much money gets spent on buildings and salaries] and so we prefer to give to the church [in terms of the people of God doing the things of God].
One of the things our giving does is that it connects us to people and projects. Because we are giving, in some ways we feel a little more invested and so hopefully it reminds us to stay connected and to be praying for and encouraging those people and things.
One of the best ways of giving that we have been connected to over the last five or six years has been Common Change. That is the name of the non-profit both tbV and i worked with in Oakland in Americaland and it is also the non-profit she is heading up in South Africa. Check it out.
Common Change is an online platform that helps you do giving creatively with a group of people that you know and care about. To do giving to people you love and want to see thrive. And without some of the power dynamics that sometimes come into play when someone hands some money to another person.
So if you are one of the people who think you can do better with giving in 2017, you should check out the website and chat to Val or one of her lieutenants. If you are in a home group or a book club or even a sports team or have a bunch of mates in the office looking for something to do together, Common Change is an easy sell and a great opportunity to give well with other people.
So how was your giving this year? Any room for improvement?
Another helpful exercise might be to sit with your finances and see if there are any areas of money wastage. Are there maybe some small tweaks you could make [cancel that gym membership you last used three years ago, for example] that would free up some money that you could be generous with?
Are there any people in or around your life who you think could use a boost and maybe you could help? One of the best gifts we ever received – and an absolute champion and cheerleader for our marriage when we were living in a difficult context – was a couple in Americaland who gave us a sum of money once a month for the specific purpose of having a date night. That felt lavish, but so super beneficial.
Is there a newly married couple you know who could use a boost like that? A marriage or a family you know who you suspect are struggling and a once off boost or regular donation might be something that could inject much needed life to them? Is there a single person you know, maybe a student, who is struggling to make ends meet? How might you [or you and a group of friends] be able to help?
Is there an organisation or project you really believe in that you could direct some money to? A lot of non-profits that make a real transformational difference in many people’s lives rely on the generosity of many people who often give just a little bit. If you’re thinking your R50 to R100 per month doesn’t make a difference, wait til it joins forces with 9 other peoples and suddenly you have R500 to R1000 which can do a lot more. Or maybe it’s directing one larger sum rather than a number of smaller ones?
Let’s let 2017 be a year filled with Generosity. But don’t do this by yourself. Share this post or tag people in it. Share the idea of Common Change with your group of people. Challenge your friends to get involved alongside you in a project. Invite your children to get creative in how they give some of their money [and if they don’t have money, then time or energy!]
But decide before you get to 2017 how you are going to handle your money during the year.