Studies show that generosity creates joy in our lives. Generous people are happier, less depressed, and get sick less often. During this crisis, we have the unique opportunity to focus on giving more to our clients, friends and others through our influence, financial assistance, time and expertise, instead of focusing on the crisis itself. Of course, we can always do good in the world, but right now, generosity is critical to our emotional well-being. Being others-focused is a salve that brings incredible energy in the midst of a storm.
In a sermon I heard recently, the pastor said that the most effective way to push back fear in a time of great uncertainty is to use your gift (singular) not your gifts (plural). What is the one gift you have that others might call a “superpower,” and how can you use that gift to help someone? You might be a natural leader–certainly a dose of steady leadership is needed right now, and there are organizations and businesses that could benefit from your help. Maybe you have a talent for tech: as billions of people are isolated in their homes, helping organizations and individuals connect with others and share important information through technology is a critical service you could provide. Other gifts you might share include strategic thinking, fundraising, public relations, or communication. On recent calls with individuals in my community, I’ve offered my coaching skills and volunteered to act as a sounding board for those who are feeling stretched and without support. If you have a client who is a small business owner, you could offer to walk alongside them as they consider really difficult decisions, like whether to lay off employees or how to adapt their business model to Covid-19 restrictions. When offering help, begin by asking simple questions like: “What do you need? How can I best help you?” Asking these kinds of questions helps you avoid making assumptions about what someone else might need.
Perhaps you have a talent for generosity and could use your giving capacity and influence to help the many charities and individuals who are struggling at this time. We recently instituted a generosity bonus for our team at Highland – each employee received a lump sum to donate wherever they see fit, to help small businesses in their community, contribute to charities, or to assist individuals in need, such as buying groceries for an elderly neighbor. We asked our employees to share their generosity stories with the whole team, to inspire each other during this time. So far, the stories have included donations to the local food bank, delivering pizza and specialty desserts from local restaurants to overwhelmed hospital emergency room staff, and contributions to a GoFundMe campaign for a struggling business that employs several single mothers.
If you have been financially generous, or you want to be, now is the time. In this season, where many philanthropic organizations have been forced to cancel fundraisers, cutting off the lifeblood of their operating budgets, consider increasing your charitable giving right now. I’ve also heard that many churches are likewise seeing their charitable contributions decrease by 25-50%. Pushing back against the natural scarcity mentality during times like these and adopting an abundance mindset can really benefit our own mental health, while we also help those among us who are struggling. As our clients look to us for advice and encouragement, we can lead through our example of generosity with our time, financial resources or other talents.