We all love to see our children’s face light up in excitement as they rip off the wrapping paper from their Christmas and birthday presents. As Christmas approaches, let us try to emphasize the non-material aspects of the season, such as family, fellowship and generosity.
It is not enough to just tell our children to be charitable and kind. Our own actions in supporting others will speak louder than any thing we can say. We must guide them through a program of action so that becomes ingrained into their psyche and becomes a way of life in their future. Give some attention to the number of displaced people who have had to run away from the insecurity of their homes out into the open and into refugee camps in parts of Nigeria and other parts of the world; this will teach them powerful and vivid real-life lessons about how fortunate they are and that their personal money or posessions, no matter how meagre, can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of others.
With all the pressure that many families are going through, to even suggest that one should give seems absurd, as it is the last thing on many peoples mind. Even if you are going through difficult times yourself, try to focus on being grateful for what you do have and what opportunities continue to present themselves. Look around you; there will always be someone worse off than you are.
Philanthropy takes on many forms. It is our individual response to human needs; It is caring and serving; an opportunity to be involved. It can be through direct giving, or through impact investing which combines the profit motive of traditional investing with the social and developmental outcomes of philanthropy.
A philanthropist is “someone who donates his or her time, money, and/or reputation to charitable causes.” Philanthropy affords one the opportunity and privilege of making a positive impact in society to shape or even save lives. By giving to community, the arts, cultural, sports, religious, and civic organizations, we are in a position to be deliberately involved in causes that we believe in.
Determine what type of initiatives you wish to support and then review your finances to decide how much you can afford to give. Will it be a one off donation or is it something you can continue to commit to year on year. Narrow your choices down to a few charities or causes you feel comfortable with and do some research on them to ensure that their ethos and mission is in consonance with your core values; then choose say one or two to support. Follow up to see how your donation is assisting them. When you see the impact it is having, you will find it easier to continue to give.
You can still do your own little bit and add value to someone else’s life even if you have little or no cash to spare. Giving does not mean that you must give only financially; there are several other ways to give in a meaningful way. The possibilities of giving of your time, experience, talent and intellect are vast and by sharing your knowledge with others you can add value to your community in this way. You can give of your time to volunteer, visit the elderly, support a foundation, participate in charity walks or runs to raise money for a particular initiative. Are you a resource person in a particular field? There will be something, some talent that you can share with others that will impact positively on their lives.
Indeed it is during trying times, even when your finances might seem stretched that you are forced to look inwards at what is truly important in life. Sometimes perspectives become warped and the most important aspects of life, such as your relationship with God, family, friends and associates, your health, job satisfaction, and fulfilling interests take a back seat. Fortunately, challenging times compel us to recognize the true value that we hold as human beings and what makes us more successful, effective, balanced, and fulfilled people. By deciding to make a difference in someone else’s life, you can bring so much more meaning, value, and a lasting form of happiness to your own.
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