When you hear the word generosity, what comes to mind? Do you equate it with money, time or talent? Maybe it is a combination of all three aspects. In honor of this charitable time of year, here are some ideas to instill a sense of generosity in your family. Hopefully, you will embrace these concepts throughout the year.
When constructing our family budget for the year, there is always a line item for charity. And often we give the most emphasis to this line item. Not because we feel obligated to do so but because it is the right thing to do. (For more, see: 2 Charitable Tax Planning Strategies for Year-End.)
Born and bred cradle Catholic, my relationship with God is the highest priority. As a Catholic and Christian, I know that every gift comes from God – so it is natural to want to give to those who have not experienced the same blessings. While most Christian faiths encourage tithing 10% of gross income for the year, Catholics interpret this edict more liberally. We are encouraged to financially support our home parish in addition to outside charitable causes.
Although assigning a specific numerical value to our family’s charitable giving is challenging, it is extremely important. When we decide on a dollar amount, we set a goal to increase annual cash gifts over the prior year, even if our income is expected to decrease. This personal story about charitable giving is shared in a spirit of inspiration, not to pass judgment. Hopefully, this will encourage you to incorporate charitable giving into your family’s financial plan. Now let’s turn to the other two aspects of generosity: time and talent.
No matter your life stage, we are all busy. Prioritization is crucial for all adults. Time is perhaps the most precious asset. So how can you possibly allocate another minute to volunteer work? It depends on how you view it. Think about causes that are meaningful to you and get involved. (For more, see: 3 Most Popular Charitable Investment Accounts.)
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Help at your church’s nursery during mass. Simultaneously spend precious time with your family while helping others in the faith community.
- Participate in a family-oriented service activity. At my oldest son’s grade school, one weeknight each month is designated for parents and children to make PB&J sandwiches in bulk. The sandwiches are then delivered to a local food pantry.
- Babysit or cook at a local women’s shelter. Ask in advance if it's okay to bring your children along. Most charities welcome it.
- Join the youth ministry group as a parent volunteer. You'll spend precious moments with your teenager and act as a great role model.
No matter the charitable endeavor, always think about the best use of your personal talents. We are created for a reason, and there is not a single person identical to you or me.
Serving on a board or subcommittee of a charitable organization provides an opportunity to collaborate with others who share a passion for your cause. If fundraising and business development efforts come naturally to you, this also provides an extension of your innate talents. Do what works for you and your family’s schedule.
Hopefully, you now have some ideas on how to better incorporate generosity into your life. What is one actionable thing you can put into place today to increase your charitable giving? (For more from this author, see: How to Achieve Financial Success in Your Marriage.)