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Giving Purposefully: Your 4-Step Guide to Intentional Generosity

Why can it be so hard to give?

Chances are, you know about the intrinsic benefits that stem from being generous – it’s been linked with increased happiness, better health, and improved relationships. But even with these personal benefits and the positive impact charitable giving can have on society, it can be hard to get started. Sure, filling out a donation form is pretty straightforward, but deciding where to donate can be overwhelming. In this practical 4-step guide, I’ll walk you through my thought process for pushing through the decision paralysis that keeps many of us from following through on our genuine desire to help people in need. I’m confident that following it will help you to build a giving partnership that makes the most of your generosity.

1. Identify a need you care about.

Ever get overwhelmed by the amount of need in the world? Countless worthy causes exist, but you unfortunately can’t fix everything. To start, choose 1 or 2 social needs that really capture your compassion: it could be anything from refugee settlement to ocean conservation to helping children in the Downtown Eastside feel loved and valuable (our cause of choice at Promise).

If you find it difficult to pinpoint specific causes you care about, consider what the greatest needs are in your own community. One great method of pinpointing these is mindful reading: try reading the news (or even your social media feed) through a lens of compassion. Instead of our usual goal of gathering information, we can read with a focus on empathizing with the struggles of others.

2. Find a changemaker that can help you meet that need.

Giving is not a passive activity – when done well, it plays a direct role in funding meaningful change. Try looking at charitable donations like investments. Just as a venture capitalist invests money into a startup she thinks can generate financial returns, you as a donor can invest money into a charity that you think will generate social returns. By social returns, I mean results that help make a lasting impact on a person or group of people who might need a hand up in life.

In selecting a charity to support, helpful indicators to look for include a clear mission, capable leadership, and positive endorsements from people whose judgment you trust. In some cases, the organization can also point you to hard evidence of their impact. Keep in mind, though, that non-profits often tackle long-term challenges, so you won’t always see results right away. When that’s the case, it helps to examine the theory behind the organization’s action and the short-term signs of progress.

At Promise, we believe that consistent, intentional relationships with leaders and peers will help a child find security in the knowledge that they are valuable and loved. These relationships take time to develop, but we see small signs of connection and flourishing just about every day.

3. Determine the most helpful ways to give.

Now that you’ve found a suitable ‘partner’ doing meaningful work to address the problems you care about, it’s time to take action. This is the crucial step from “loving what the organization is doing” to becoming part of the impact.

For many charities, especially those like Promise that serve a community on a year-round basis, monthly recurring donations are the ideal. While one-time donations are always welcomed and appreciated, monthly giving enables the non-profit to make more decisions with the longer term in mind, rather than just reacting to immediate needs. For example, a non-profit leader may feel more confident launching a new program or hiring a new key staff member when they know they can count on a predictable base of funding throughout the year.  The monthly donation does not need to be large: if $5 a month ($60 a year) is all you can contribute right now, then start there!

4. Become an engaged supporter.

So you’ve partnered with an organization making a positive difference for a cause you care about. Well done! Now, how can you get the most out of this giving partnership? Here are a few ways:

  • Start a conversation

    Chances are, the people working at your beneficiary organization share your passion for the cause you are both advancing. We love getting emails and notes from our supporters, whether it’s to tell us why you care about kids in the Downtown Eastside, to encourage our team, or to ask a question about what we do and why we do it. If you’re worried about wasting the staff’s time, know that your chosen organization is probably more than happy to spend a few minutes chatting with you if it leads you to be an advocate for their mission!

  • Spread the word, multiply your gift

    One of the most powerful ways that an organization can attract new supporters is through word of mouth. If you believe in what your charity of choice does, share about it on social media or pass on a newsletter to a friend. You could even share about what led you to care about this cause. There’s no need to disclose the amount you give – just the fact that you believe in the mission enough to invest your hard-earned money can prompt others to join you.

  • Find ways to apply your talents to the social cause

    Your vocation might not be a direct match for the work your chosen non-profit is doing, but it’s worth thinking about how your unique skills could help the people they are serving. Sometimes this can be directly through the non-profit, such as an educator helping level our books or an electrician repairing our lighting. In other cases, your impact can focus more broadly on achieving the same goals (like a school custodian creating a clean learning environment for kids or a lawyer working to bring justice in our community).

*   *   *

Regardless of which changemaking organization is near to your heart, I hope this guide helps you be more intentional in your giving. Not only will your gift make an impact on your community, but I’m willing to bet it will be an enriching experience for you, too.

This summer, we’ll be welcoming dozens of children to attend Promise Summer Camps in the Downtown Eastside. With 180 camp slots, 9 new summer staff, and scores of enriching activities planned, we are eagerly anticipating a summer of connection and discovery. As a non-profit organization providing high quality camps to families who could not otherwise afford them, we rely primarily on donations from individuals like you.

Today, I’d like to invite you to make an impact on the lives of these kids by giving them an opportunity to go to camp. Every $50 donation covers a whole week of fun activities and excursions for one child during a week of camp, where they will be cared for and invested in. Would you consider helping a child at Promise this summer?

Have questions about conscious giving or about summer at Promise Vancouver? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at connect@promisevancouver.ca!

Daniel Breedveld is Marketing & Communications Manager at Promise Vancouver.

Why can it be so hard to give?

Chances are, you know about the intrinsic benefits that stem from being generous – it’s been linked with increased happiness, better health, and improved relationships. But even with these personal benefits and the positive impact charitable giving can have on society, it can be hard to get started. Sure, filling out a donation form is pretty straightforward, but deciding where to donate can be overwhelming. In this practical 4-step guide, I’ll walk you through my thought process for pushing through the decision paralysis that keeps many of us from following through on our genuine desire to help people in need. I’m confident that following it will help you to build a giving partnership that makes the most of your generosity.

1. Identify a need you care about.

Ever get overwhelmed by the amount of need in the world? Countless worthy causes exist, but you unfortunately can’t fix everything. To start, choose 1 or 2 social needs that really capture your compassion: it could be anything from refugee settlement to ocean conservation to helping children in the Downtown Eastside feel loved and valuable (our cause of choice at Promise).

If you find it difficult to pinpoint specific causes you care about, consider what the greatest needs are in your own community. One great method of pinpointing these is mindful reading: try reading the news (or even your social media feed) through a lens of compassion. Instead of our usual goal of gathering information, we can read with a focus on empathizing with the struggles of others.

2. Find an organization that can help you meet that need.

Giving is not a passive activity – when done well, it plays a direct role in funding meaningful change. Try looking at charitable donations like investments. Just as a venture capitalist invests money into a startup she thinks can generate financial returns, you as a donor can invest money into a charity that you think will generate social returns. By social returns, I mean results that help make a lasting impact on a person or group of people who might need a hand up in life.

In selecting a charity to support, helpful indicators to look for include a clear mission, capable leadership, and positive endorsements from people whose judgment you trust. In some cases, the organization can also point you to hard evidence of their impact. Keep in mind, though, that non-profits often tackle long-term challenges, so you won’t always see results right away. When that’s the case, it helps to examine the theory behind the organization’s action and the short-term signs of progress.

At Promise, we believe that consistent, intentional relationships with leaders and peers will help a child find security in the knowledge that they are valuable and loved. These relationships take time to develop, but we see small signs of connection and flourishing just about every day.

3. Determine the most helpful ways to give.

Now that you’ve found a suitable ‘partner’ doing meaningful work to address the problems you care about, it’s time to take action. This is the crucial step from “loving what the organization is doing” to becoming part of the impact.

For many charities, especially those like Promise that serve a community on a year-round basis, monthly recurring donations are the ideal. While one-time donations are always welcomed and appreciated, monthly giving enables the non-profit to make more decisions with the longer term in mind, rather than just reacting to immediate needs. For example, a non-profit leader may feel more confident launching a new program or hiring a new key staff member when they know they can count on a predictable base of funding throughout the year.  The monthly donation does not need to be large: if $5 a month ($60 a year) is all you can contribute right now, then start there!

4. Become an engaged supporter.

So you’ve partnered with an organization making a positive difference for a cause you care about. Well done! Now, how can you get the most out of this giving partnership? Here are a few ways:

  • Start a conversation

    Chances are, the people working at your beneficiary organization share your passion for the cause you are both advancing. We love getting emails and notes from our supporters, whether it’s to tell us why you care about kids in the Downtown Eastside, to encourage our team, or to ask a question about what we do and why we do it. If you’re worried about wasting the staff’s time, know that your chosen organization is probably more than happy to spend a few minutes chatting with you if it leads you to be an advocate for their mission!

  • Spread the word, multiply your gift

    One of the most powerful ways that an organization can attract new supporters is through word of mouth. If you believe in what your charity of choice does, share about it on social media or pass on a newsletter to a friend. You could even share about what led you to care about this cause. There’s no need to disclose the amount you give – just the fact that you believe in the mission enough to invest your hard-earned money can prompt others to join you.

  • Find ways to apply your talents to the social cause

    Your vocation might not be a direct match for the work your chosen non-profit is doing, but it’s worth thinking about how your unique skills could help the people they are serving. Sometimes this can be directly through the non-profit, such as an educator helping level our books or an electrician repairing our lighting. In other cases, your impact can focus more broadly on achieving the same goals (like a school custodian creating a clean learning environment for kids or a lawyer working to bring justice in our community).

*   *   *

Regardless of which changemaking organization is near to your heart, I hope this guide helps you be more intentional in your giving. Not only will your gift make an impact on your community, but I’m willing to bet it will be an enriching experience for you, too.

This summer, we’ll be welcoming dozens of children to attend Promise Summer Camps in the Downtown Eastside. With 180 camp slots, 9 new summer staff, and scores of enriching activities planned, we are eagerly anticipating a summer of connection and discovery. As a non-profit organization providing high quality camps to families who could not otherwise afford them, we rely primarily on donations from individuals like you.

Today, I’d like to invite you to make an impact on the lives of these kids by giving them an opportunity to go to camp. Every $50 donation covers a whole week of fun activities and excursions for one child during a week of camp, where they will be cared for and invested in. Would you consider helping a child at Promise this summer?

Have questions about conscious giving or about summer at Promise Vancouver? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at connect@promisevancouver.ca!

Daniel Breedveld is Marketing & Communications Manager at Promise Vancouver.

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