This is the year that I am going to clean out my garage. No, really I am! I say that every year and I piddle at it most of the time but this is the year that I am going to go for it. I am getting rid of the extra stuff in my house. I even have a box or two still unopened from when we moved in 13 years ago. I wonder what’s in there?
So, what do spring cleaning and generosity have to do with one another? What if you and I used our spring cleaning ritual to finally get rid of that extra stuff? What if we emptied our homes of the things that we don’t really need? What if instead of hoarding things, we gave them away? What if we gave some of our furniture away before it was completely dilapidated? Or did a hard sift in our burgeoning closets? In our community, there are countless families who would benefit greatly from extra clothes, decent furniture, kitchen appliances, and seldom used sporting equipment.
One of the key characteristics of financial health is generosity. Generosity simply defined is the practical use of one person’s resources for the betterment of another. These resources can be time, talent or treasure (money or stuff). It has been said that it is better to give than to receive and most of us know exactly what that means.
I still remember one baseball season when my son was young. I have coached youth sports for years and one of the kids on my basketball team was transitioning to spring baseball. His family was very poor and he had no equipment for the new sport. I had just bought my son a new bat, a glove and a bat-bag and his old equipment was just sitting in the garage. He and I decided to give his old (but still in great shape) gear to this family. Our friend was so proud to have his own stuff and my boy was pleased as well.
Why do I share that story? Not to toot our own horn, but rather to share a practical example of how the generosity of individuals changes things. According to Giving USA, Americans increased their charitable giving by 4.1% to $373 billion in 2015. 71% of those dollars were given by individuals. Almost three-fourths of all charitable giving was done by regular folks. The single largest contributor to the increase in total charitable giving in 2015 was an increase of $9.77 billion in giving by individuals—67 percent of the total change between 2014 and 2015. These funds are an invaluable resource to many who hurting around us and the organizations trying to make a difference in their lives. You and I can make a difference!
And while we are at it lets talk about some other ways that we can be generous and make a difference. What about using some of your time to volunteer? What about figuring out a way to use your gifts and talents to help others? What if 2017 was your most generous year in actually giving money to causes you care about? Wouldn’t it be cool if the trend of individuals increasing their charitable giving continued?
Maybe instead of having a yard sale and pocketing a little money, would you consider giving some of your best unused stuff to organizations who are making them available to the poor and near-poor in our community? By the way, these gift-in-kind contributions are tax deductible and you may get more of a benefit than if you sold them at a yard sale. If you are new to NWA there are a number of great organization who will take and redistribute your extra stuff.
- Samaritan Community Center in Rogers and Springdale
- Goodwill in Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale and Fayetteville
- Potter’s House in Fayetteville and Siloam Springs
- Friends in need
Generosity sometimes shows up at the most unexpected times. What if you and I began an annual ritual of turning our spring cleaning into an opportunity for generosity? What kind of difference would that make? I think each of our little sacrifices collectively can make a big difference. Well, I guess I better get started on that garage.
Tim Howington is Executive Vice President for Freedom 5:one Ministries and is a Financial Life Coach. Freedom 5:one is a faith based non-profit that helps families with their financial health- primarily in basic budgeting and financial planning. He lives with his wife Terri and son Josh in Rogers Arkansas.