Generosity is a great quality. It is a strong personal value for me.
However, I find that as a business owner I am asked at least once a week to support various charities and fundraisers. I used to just give everyone a token amount of $50 – $100. However, a couple of years ago I realised that in one year I had given over $8000. All without much plan or rationale. I would have to admit that the biggest reason for giving to some was that I did not know how to say ‘No!’ without guilt.
I began to think about this and to ask some tougher questions about how to be generous.
I asked myself the following sets of questions based on:
- Need: Where are the greatest needs? After some research and thought I decided this was a poor question. Who is to say that AIDS is a greater cause than Breast or Prostate Cancer? Who is to say clean water is a more important issue than feeding the world’s poorest? The answer to greatest need is very subjective.
- Impact: How can I make a difference? Which groups are doing great work? Which organisations could do great work if they were better funded? Where do I get the best return for my giving in terms of lives changed and impact made?
- Personal connection: Where do I have a personal interest and connection? What stirs me? Where can I build a relationships not just give money?
- Self interest: Should there be a Return On Investment (ROI) on giving for my business? Association with which organisations will give me and my business the best ROI with my clients? Which Charities/Organisations have good synergy with my brand so that a long term relationship is a win-win arrangement.
- Philosphy: Should the contribution be welfare based or incentive based? Do I want to support organisations that give handouts (food and money), or organisations that empower people to learn business skills to make their own money?
What I have decided about how to be generous
- To set a ‘Giving’ category as part of my overall annual budget
- To support 3 main Charities/Organisations in a significant way, long term. These are organisations in which I believe and know do good work.
- To focus 60% of my budget on incentive based schemes and 40% on welfare.
- To allocate $500 to give to business friends and family who are doing Movember or Dry July and want someone to sponsor them $50. This is given as much because of business relationship as much as any charity’s great work.
- To say a guilt free ‘No!’ to every other request for money that comes into my mailbox, inbox or via telephone or FaceBook page throughout the year.
- I schedule about 1-2 hours per fortnight to be available to encourage younger business people.
- I also am mentoring at least one person in a probono capacity
- I choose to encourage and inspire people as a pre-set daily attitude
How To Be Generous
These days I say ‘No!’ a lot more often than I used to. My Giving budget is increasing as my business grows. However, I feel that I am giving more strategically and building a relationship with key charity partners which sits well with my values.
In The Richest Man in Babylon, the author, George S. Glason, encourages an approach to financial management where of total income a person (or business) allows: 10% for giving, 10% for saving and 80% for living and investment back into the business. This seems to me to me a good starting point for learning how to be generous.
Is there anything you would like to add about how to be generous?