Brad and I place a high value on giving and try to be very intentional in our lives in that area. For us, giving comes in many different forms. Although we think monetary giving is very important and we include it in our budget each month, we also think it’s essential to give of our time and to show care and compassion towards others. As Christians, we participate in ‘tithing’ or giving away 10% of our monthly income to our church and a select few charities that we support. We also build money into our budget so that when we see a need and feel prompted, we are able to meet it. That truly is probably our favorite part of monetary giving. We have grown in this area of our lives and by being more intentional about giving, we have gotten better at it. God has used giving as a tool in our lives to soften our hearts and has matured us as human beings. You just become a more thoughtful person when you realize it’s not all about you and you start placing a higher value on how you can serve others and give.
So one night at the beginning of November, I felt a prompting to share with others what we’ve learned – that you truly gain so much when you give. But people can get hung up on giving only being about money and writing a check each month to a charity (although I do think that’s an awesome way to support things that are near and dear to your heart) so I couldn’t just ask people to write checks. Instead, I decided to have people experience the power of giving by providing examples of what giving could look like and then ‘challenging’ them to find a way to do that in their own lives. And the Team Earnest Giving Challenge was born.
I created an ‘event’ on Facebook, posted the challenge and after a few failed attempts (Facebook did NOT like me inviting my entire Friend list to this event), I was finally able invite friends to join. The challenge is below:
1. Give LOVE: Write a card/letter to someone you love/care about and tell them how much they mean to you – an actual snail mail letter, handwritten and sent through the USPS. You can’t believe how much this will mean to someone to get something in the mail, handwritten from you.
2. Give SUPPORT: Find a charity that does something you really believe in and write them a check for at least 1% of your monthly take-home pay. Your dollars will help support their mission.
3. Give HOSPITALITY: Have someone over to your house/apartment for a meal you prepare (doesn’t have to be fancy. You are just opening up your home to someone and spending time with them) OR prepare a meal for someone who is really busy or can’t prepare meals for themselves and take it to them (example: someone who just had a baby, elderly or maybe a really busy single mom or family). You can delight in knowing how much that person will appreciate that meal because it was prepared by you especially for them.
4. Give APPRECIATION: Tip generously. Tip 50% at a meal or service to show your appreciation at how hard the person is working to serve you. In what can be a difficult line of work (service industry), you can ‘wow’ the person and make them feel appreciated and help them financially with your tip.
5. Give AWAY SOMETHING: Find something you don’t really need anymore and then find someone who could really use that item. Give that item to someone and ask for nothing in return. Win-Win situation – you get rid of something you don’t need and you feel good because it’s going to someone that really needs it.
I figured I’d get maybe a dozen people to ‘attend’ and maybe two or three would post one or two things that they did. Well, we were blown away. Thirty people said they would attend with another eight ‘interested’. That was pretty cool in and of itself. But then people started posting what they were doing. The responses started coming in about people they were connecting with and serving by sharing a meal together (#3), leaving a nice tip at a restaurant to thank a person in the service industry (#4), giving to their favorite charity (#2), writing letters to long-lost friends and family (#1) and finding good uses and homes for things they no longer needed (#5). There were a total of 12 different people that actually posted the various things that they did. It was amazing to see the acts of kindness people were performing but, even better, to see that person’s response about how they felt after they gave.
Because the world just becomes a better place when you give. Not only do you change personally, but your actions inspire and motivate others and the gifts you give bring joy to other people’s lives. You can give monetary gifts, gifts of your time, gifts of compassion and caring, and acts of service. We challenge you – a reader of this blog – to participate in some or all of the above Team Earnest Giving Challenge. Please leave a comment below and let us know what you did and how it went. You will be amazed at how much you GAIN by GIVING! (And thanks to all of those that already participated in the challenge.)