Choose GenerosityIn my life, at different times, I have been on both the giving and receiving end of charity. I have even worked for a very large charity, and been witness to the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of large charitable organisations. Charity can certainly be a wonderful thing, it is the extension of ourselves into the community, small individual actions creating ripple effects that impact the whole world for the better. Small actions, when multiplied by millions, manifesting enormous change. That change effects all of us, because we are all a part of the same world. The world of extremes, of haves and have nots, of wealth and poverty, of excess and lack; a world of division that creates the need for the generosity of others.

At certain times of the year we appear to be bombarded with charities seeking our generosity, usually at the same time that modern society encourages increased consumerism such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. These points in the year highlight the aspects of abundance in our own lives and lack in other peoples lives, and can assist in boosting a charitable cause. However it can also have quite negative side effects. There are so many charitable organisations in existence that the sheer overwhelming number of requests to help creates guilt and shame, or worse creates a form of desensitization, where the inability to help all means that people are less likely to help at all. The days when most charity organisations simply asked for loose change dropped in a tin are gone, instead replaced by strangers knocking on your door or stopping you in the street and requesting your bank details, or click here to DONATE NOW buttons popping up on your favourite websites. This can make people very uncomfortable and defensive when they say no – and then leaving them feeling guilty, angry or ashamed afterwards. I too have experienced this strange mix of emotions, and I have come to realise how damning this can be to the psychology of giving. Instead of doing what I can when I can, I become defined by what I cannot do and that somehow makes me a bad person. In this way what I do is no longer an act of giving, it becomes a penance for all the times I did not give. That is not in the spirit of generosity.

Here are some suggestions for saying yes to generosity, even when you have to say no to a Charity

Prioritise

There are so many worthy causes, but it is impossible to support them all. Many people will choose to support a cause through personal circumstance. If you have been affected by illness, you may wish to support a research charity. If you have ever gone hungry, you may wish to support food banks. If you have an affinity for animals, you may wish to support sanctuaries. If you wish to honour your Gods, you may choose a cause associated to their Divine aspects. They may not be the same causes that our friends are passionate about, and that is just wonderful. If we all supported the same things, many issues would be overlooked. By each prioritising different organisations or causes we can all work together to improve many aspects of life.

Loretta Scott QuoteGive what you can

In times of personal financial difficulty we may find ourselves saying no to charities more often, and that is understandable. Charitable organisations require money, but that is not all they need. We can support our causes by spending time, if not money. Many organisations require volunteers to run effectively, and you can offer as much time as you can spare. Give old clothes, donate toys, or buy a tin of food every shopping run to place in the food bank. Use your skills to raise funds or awareness, organise neighborly baking contests, woodworking competitions, or sponsored sports events. Offer your skills at bookkeeping or web design, or simply hand out flyers after your school run.

It is not about the brand

Charity is an action, not an organisation. Even if you are not financially contributing on a regular basis to large charitable organisations, does not mean that you are not being generous in your service to others. Actions do not need to fit the standard model, there are many ways to be charitable, generous, or in service to others. Sometimes the seemingly smallest individual actions have the largest impact.

RipplesSupport local, not just global

There are so many ways to support our local community. Charity does not have to be just about making a difference on a global scale, it can also be about improving the areas in which we live, supporting families in our neighbourhood, and assisting with volunteer services in our communities.

Be honest with yourself

Do what you can when you can. If you cannot commit to regular monthly payments without causing financial difficulty, then don’t. If you can offer more time or skills, then do. Be honest with your reasons and your intentions for giving, and do not be afraid to draw the line somewhere.

Give without obligation

Never let guilt mask your generosity. Never give with resentment. It is unfair of others to place a sense of obligation on giving, because it actually negatively impacts the mentality of helping others. Giving of ourselves in any form is an act of love. Give what you can when you can because you want to, not because you are expected to. Give freely of yourself, and watch the world blossom in response to your love.

Say no without guilt

When you do what you can when you can, through the act of living and giving generously, there is no shame is saying no. Even if we would like to help, sometimes we can’t. Just because we can’t help at this moment, does not mean we can’t help at another time, or in another way. Accept your limitations – we all bear the weight of the world equally. Instead of feeling guilty that you cannot help on this occasion, feel blessed that there have been so many times when you could and did help.

Don't be ashamedCharity can be described as ‘benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity’, yet is more often seen as an almsgiving from the religious or the rich to the poor. Perhaps charity has become a dirty word, evoking resentment of obligation for some and guilt or embarrassment for others. Perhaps generosity is a better word to use – there is no shame in accepting the generosity of others, nor is generosity a quality reserved for the wealthy. When it comes to generosity, we are all wealthy – we are all the richer for both giving and receiving.

Generosity is a wonderful thing.

“The only things standing between you and the compassionate, wise, and creative person you want to be are matters of choice. Your choice. No one can occupy your generosity except you.” – Gary Zukav

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