Can you recall a time when you received an unexpected gift? Maybe you were in need at the time, or possibly it was something totally unexpected? Thinking back on situations like these, what is it that you remember? Was it the gift or the feelings and emotions you experienced from the gift?
My guess is it’s the feelings and emotions that you will remember. Why is that? It’s because the power behind giving is that it can change the heart and well-being of both the giver and the recipient.
Booker T. Washington said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
I really like this quote, but let me ask you this. Do happy people give more away, or are people happier because they give? Do successful people give more away, or are people more successful because they give? It’s the chicken and the egg question. I’m not sure there is a real answer, but in my experience giving tends to lead to happiness and success.
The act of giving is one key aspect that many of the world’s greatest and most successful people have made part of their lives. So, if we want to be successful in life, shouldn’t we aim to adopt as many habits as possible of those who have proven to be successful?
Let’s take a look at two of the world’s greatest leaders, Winston Churchill and Jesus. Churchill was famously quoted as saying “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” And Jesus said, “It is better to give than to receive.”
How does this apply to you? How does this affect your wealth? Through these quotes, we are made aware of the fact that our lives are not defined by what we have, but by what we give.
Give To Live
We live in the most affluent time in history and yet we have so many “money” problems. How can that be? It doesn’t make sense! I believe a big reason for this is we haven’t gotten the giving piece right. So how do we fix this? Easy… we decide to put others' needs ahead of our own.
Do you recall 2008 and 2009? Of course, you do! We went through the greatest financial crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression and my guess is no one reading this article missed a meal the entire time. No one reading this article had to sleep on the streets. Sure, it was devastating and none of us want to go through that again, but this proves all of us have more than enough.
So if we have enough, how do we give more? Not just to make a difference in the lives of others, but to make our lives better as well. How can we do this?
We can give three ways….with our time, with our talents, and with our resources. We can give to provide compassion and to help those in need. We can volunteer our time at a shelter. We can help out a struggling single mom. We can give to support our local church, or provide support for effective ministries. We can give back to those that have helped us get ahead. There is a way that we can all make a difference. Being generous “gives” us a chance to change the world and leave it a little better place than when we got here.
So you might be thinking, what’s the benefit?
There are a lot of benefits to giving. Some benefits are material like tax breaks, and others more emotional like helping others. Let me say this, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of working with some really generous people. I’ve met many people who understand the power of giving. The ones who have given beyond what “makes sense”, and I have never met anyone who regretted it. I have never met a giving person who ran out of money, and I have never met anyone who wasn’t happier and more fulfilled after giving.
It's That Time of Year... It's Christmastime
It’s a time when we all buy a bunch of stuff that no one wants or needs. How about this instead… gather your family and say: “instead of gifts this year, let’s find a family in need and help them out.” I’m not telling you to be a Scrooge and have nothing under the Christmas tree, but let me give you an example of how this might look. This just happened to me.
I asked my wife what she wanted for Christmas this year and her response jokingly was “just not another sweater like you bought me last year. That thing was hideous”. You know what my first thought was? It wasn’t, "how rude”, it wasn’t, “she’s ungrateful”. It was, “did I seriously buy her a sweater last year?? What business do I have buying her a sweater? I can barely pick out my own clothes!” Do you know what happened? I am sure I felt like I didn’t have enough gifts for her under the tree so I went online and started ordering “stuff”. I am sure she doesn’t even remember what the other stuff was and if the sweater wasn’t so hideous, she probably wouldn’t have remembered that. I don’t’ know what I spent on all that stuff. $100? $200? $500? It doesn’t really matter. I might as well have just thrown it out the window.
My wife has a huge heart and loves helping people. What if I had taken that money instead and just wrapped it in a sweater box (with no sweater) and said “Let’s go give this away. Let’s go help a family out.” She would have remembered that gift. Another family would have been blessed and we all would have been happier!! Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes and even the smallest of gifts can have a huge impact.
So if you are ready, then let’s be smart about it. Let’s put a plan in place and start giving!
Have a Plan: If you have a plan you will be a more effective giver
If you want to make the greatest impact, then you need to have a plan… four plans actually.
- A plan for HOW MUCH you want to give
Having a plan for how much you want to give means you are being purposeful, it also means that you will probably give away that amount of money… maybe even more. Think in percentage terms. Decide to give away a percentage of your income and that way when you make more money, your giving automatically goes up.
- A plan for WHO you want to give to
Decide what’s important to you and your family ahead of time and decide to give to those churches, ministries, people, and causes. At the end of the year, don’t be looking around for donation receipts wondering who you “helped out” that year. Be purposeful, go deep with two or three, and make a difference that is measurable. And remember, don’t just give money, but give your talent and time as well. All three are needed!
- A plan for WHAT you should give
Most giving is done out of income, which means gifts are done in cash. Cash might not be the best option though. In almost all cases it is better to give long-term appreciated assets over cash. Examples of appreciated assets would be stocks or mutual funds with large gains. We understand some people don’t have appreciated assets to give but if you do, we advise giving them over cash.
- A plan for WHEN you should give
Should you give now or give after you are gone? There are a lot of good thoughts around both of these. Here are some of my thoughts on it. Why not give now? There are needs now, can we meet them? Why not give now so you truly know where it is going? So you can see the fruits of your giving? So you can get your family involved and make a family tradition. I promise you will have richer and stronger relationships with your family if you do this together.
The family that gives together, stays together!
So now that you have a plan, do you dare to be above average? I know it doesn’t make sense to think that the more money you give the more successful you will be. The more money you give, the happier you will be. But it works. Don’t believe me? Ask Winston or Booker T., they will tell you.
Ready to go a little deeper? Get started today, by better understanding your risk tolerance level and how that fits with the investments you currently hold.
Chip Brackley is the Director of Atlanta for Archetype Wealth Partners. Chip is passionate about helping families experience greater clarity, confidence and contentment by connecting their wealth with their purpose. Archetype exists to help families thrive across generations.
Disclaimer: Our intent in providing this material is purely for informational purposes, as of the date hereof, and may be subject to change without notice. This article does not intend to constitute accounting, legal, tax, or other professional advice. Visitors and readers should not act upon the content or information found here without first seeking appropriate advice from a trusted accountant, financial planner, lawyer or other professional.