‘Tis the Season: A Giving Guide that Makes a Real Difference

In Uncategorized by Leigh-Anne CritesLeave a Comment

You can help a lot of problems and solve many needs by giving money. So, you might be surprised to hear me say that giving money may be one of the worst ways to give? To make a real difference as you give, here’s a new perspective that’ll help you stop just “giving” and instead start investing something of real value.

It’s that time of year. The holidays are approaching, and hearts turn toward giving to others. Many people decide it’s time to provide a financial donation to those less fortunate. It’s a good time to give to organizations that help the needy. Right?

If All You’re Offering Is Money, That’s Just Plain Lazy.

There are many times when cold hard cash is the solution to a particular problem. When that’s the case, we should give what we can to help. So often, though, we fall into the trap of thinking the only way, the best way of helping is by sending money.

My experience has taught me that’s not always the case. Giving money is simple. Everyone can use it, the color is always right, and it’s a gift that always fits. The problem is, money gifts alone may do more harm than good.

We have all heard stories of the lottery winners who think all their problems are over because they hit the big jackpot. Then we find out that in just a few years, they’ve blown through their cash and are right back where they started from, or worse. Did all that money help their lives? In most situations, money just magnifies what is already there. If you stink at managing $100, you will REALLY stink at managing $100,000.

As parents, we learn this. My son might want $50 so he can entertain himself for an evening. Is that what he needs, though? More likely what he needs from me, his Dad, is my time, my attention, and my wisdom. It’s not my job to keep him entertained, my job is to raise an adult. As his father, it is my job to pass on what I’ve learned in my life to help him move forward in his own life.

Sometimes, The Best Gift Is Not Green

The same holds true in giving to our organizations in the community. Yes, these groups need our financial help, but so many times we can help even more with our wisdom and experience. Here’s an example.

A group I was working with wanted to give their volunteers and teachers a comfortable, warm sweater as a gift. Apparently, there’s a pretty low threshold for gifts before they become taxable – about $25. The item had a value of $34.95, just over that tax threshold. After I did some research, I found out something unique…

It, turns out that if the sweater has a company or organization logo on it, then it could fall under the advertising budget, not the gift category. The tax problem no longer applied. The knowledge I could share was worth a lot more than a monetary gift. It allowed this organization to give their volunteers something even better, without creating a tax burden in the process.

Gifts Leaders Can Give Their Teams Every Day

I applied that same thinking to my business. I have about 130 employees. Is a paycheck at $7.50 an hour the most important thing I can give them? I hope not. I think the most important thing, the most valuable thing I can give them, is to invest in their lives.

When a need arises with one of my employees, yes, I might give them some cash so they can cover a meal, or gas in their vehicle. When I hand over that gift that employee feels happy. But when I take the time to say, “Hey, you’re doing a fantastic job and really helping us change lives, it makes a difference, Thank you! ” I’m building them up with my encouragement and recognition. I’m investing in them in a way that perhaps no one else is.

When we give, we need to look at where we are giving. Do we have an abundance mindset and an abundant heart? Are we looking for the actual need? Or are we throwing money at the situation and patting ourselves on the back?

Giving Gifts That Change The World

As we approach Thanksgiving, look back to the early days Americans celebrated this holiday. It wasn’t about who brought the most sizable turkey. It was about bringing something to the table to share and doing what they could. What if the best thing we can bring to the table is encouragement?

I have a mission in my life. My purpose is to teach, inspire and serve. It’s what I do. And everything I do falls into one of these three buckets. I’m always looking for opportunities to use the gifts I have to give to others.

There’s a quote I love that says, “Everyone wants to see someone on fire, either to be inspired or just stand there and watch them burn.” I want to be that guy on fire who inspires others. Sometimes I miss the mark and then, well, at least others receive a little entertainment as they watch me burn.

There’s a proverb that says, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” What if we do both? Give him a fish so he can eat. Then teach him a fish and change the rest of his life. The problem is, this takes more effort, its not as easy, and so its easy to just open our wallet.

When we give something of genuine value to others, it blesses twice. It blesses them, and it opens our own life up to a blessing. When we sow into a young life, we can teach them to become leaders who sow into the lives of others. The cycle continues, and hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of lives change and go on to inspire more change.

So as we look at giving this year, look at these things:

● What can you provide that will make lasting difference today?

● What can you invest in that will encourage and strengthen them for a lifetime?

● When we give to others, we open the door for a blessing, both for the receiver and for ourselves.

● Who do you know who could become a leader with the right encouragement?

● How could that giving into someone’s life lead to encouraging hundreds, even thousands, through the change it makes in just one person?

As we move into the holiday season of giving this year, let’s stop and look at investing rather than merely giving. Handing out money is simple. It can help. Investing in someone with encouragement, praise, and interest may “cost” more than just giving money, but the far-reaching results make it a sound investment.

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