When I started as a camp director over 20 years ago, I didn’t think I’d be a fundraiser. But that’s what the job required. One thing I’ve learned is that asking people for money is actually doing them a favor. Why? Because it’s better to give than receive. Except when it’s not ( I’ll have more on that later).
Research shows that people who spend money on others report higher levels of happiness than those who spend money on themselves. The amount spent is less important than the commitment to give. There’s also evidence that by giving regularly, one can start a virtuous cycle of well-being. Generosity makes you happier, which leads to more generous behavior, which makes you happier.
It’s also important to note that giving goes beyond money. Generosity includes giving our time and effort to help others. Doing something to improve the well-being of others is generally a way to feel better, at least in the short term.
But there are clearly long-term effects to giving our time, talents and treasure to others. The research shows that those who are generous tend to be healthier and live longer. They also tend to achieve more success in their careers than those who are focused only on their own success.
There’s a reason Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:34).” Giving reflects the divine nature of a self-giving God. When we give away what the world considers most valuable, such as time, money and effort, we experience the very heart of God.
But there IS a caveat. Giving is only helpful when it’s done freely. When it’s not, then it’s not really generosity. That said, there may be times when there is pressure to give, and we make the choice to do so. That’s fine as long as we take responsibility for our decision and don’t blame and resent others.
Making the choice to be generous is freeing. It is a way to point to a God of abundance, not a god of scarcity. Those are values to live by the whole year ‘round.