3 Ways to Build Generosity into Your Life

February 26, 2021

Giving to others feels great. It helps people in need, makes the world better, and activates the pleasure center in your brain. It even helps people think better, walk faster, and watch less television. 

Chances are, you know this already—and there are lots of social causes you care about. You're likely one of the 96% of Americans who believe they have a moral duty to use what they have to help others, and maybe you contributed to the $450 billion Americans gave to charity in 2019 alone

Then again, maybe you're not. Maybe you want to give, and you just haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe you're waiting until you're wealthy, or retired, or less stressed. And that makes sense. But the truth is, giving doesn't happen by accident. You have to prioritize it. Practice it. If you want to give regularly, give more, or give at all, you need to set aside time and money specifically to help people in need. In other words, you need to create a generosity margin: a symbolic or actual fund you can draw from to make the world a safer, kinder place.

Here are some steps you can take to kickstart a life of giving.

Give Now

Research shows that the more you sit around thinking about giving, the less you are likely to give. The good news is, you don't have to be wealthy or have a perfect plan to start giving. Giving is a practice—and sometimes, all you need to create a lifelong habit is a little forward momentum. So next time your local food pantry needs some love or the animal shelter asks for support, open your pocketbook. You don't have to give a lot. You've just got to start.

Give Regularly

Now that you've given a little, make a plan so that your gifts will keep on giving. Set aside an hour or two to look at your budget and see what you're bringing in. Then create a generosity allowance—a set amount every month you will give to others. Doing this in advance will help you give consistently and often—without worrying each time about being rash or breaking the bank. Use a site like Charity Navigator to find groups that work on causes you care about, and schedule a regular donation—because the only thing better than sharing the wealth is sharing the wealth regularly!

Give as a Team

It's great to give on your own. But it's even greater to give to others, with others. Amplify your impact by getting your family or workplace on board. Talk to your boss about setting up a workplace giving program that diverts employees' pre-tax dollars to good causes. Pick an organization to support as a family and create a giving jar or online fund to contribute funds. Or create a family charitable trust to manage donations long-term. You'll not only get more money to more organizations and people in need. You'll also build relationships with people who care about making the world a better place.

Learn more about how Charityvest can help you build generosity into your life. Visit us at charityvest.org.

Create your Charityvest giving fund—it's free and takes 90 seconds.

Stephen Kump

Stephen is the chief of promoting generosity @ Charityvest. Former Bain consultant, philanthropic advisor, and military officer. Yale MBA.

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