As the year ends, many people spend November giving thanks and December giving to others. Being thankful and giving gifts of time, love, money, or presents (or all of the above) have been promoted for centuries in one form or another for just about every culture in the world. Leaders often comment on giving, like in John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech on January 20, 1961. President Kennedy gave the following charge to the people of the United States: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 2021)
The concept of giving is universally supported. For Christians, the charge is promoted in the Bible by Paul in Acts 20: 35 when he reminds people of the teachings of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” For Muslims, charity is noted multiple times in the Holy Quran. (Learn Religions, 2021) Buddhism puts forth the idea of giving in one of the Perfections or paramitas. In order for the giving to be perfect, it must be done without expectation of reward or praise. (Learn Religions, 2021) In her article, “Tzedakah: More Than Charity”, Lisa Katz states, “Reaching out to those in need is central to Jewish being.” (Katz, 2019)
Katz further states that followers of Judaism are commanded to contribute at least 10 percent of their income to charity. Tzedakah boxes can be seen in many Jewish homes for collecting coins for the needy. (Katz, 2019)
In case you’d like an annual reminder to participate in the act of giving, November 30, 2021 has been designated as Giving Tuesday and it occurs every Tuesday following the U.S. Thanksgiving Day. On the World Giving Index, the United States is 19th overall in giving. (CAF World Giving Index 2021, 2021)
There are many ways to give. An individual can give money, donate stock to an organization, or give time. Organize an event, then donate funds to a charity. Have a book or clothing drive. Volunteer to teach children about charity. Volunteer at an organization or shelter. Host a neighborhood garage sale that donates a percentage to designated non-profits and, of course, donate those gently used items to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or the like. Purchase pizza pies and drop them off at locations where the homeless frequent. Assist small business owners by buying their products or services on Small Business Saturday (November 27th) as well as promoting them on social media.
The point is – it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters that you do. Make it more fun by involving your friends and family. Create a friendly competition for who (or which team) can raise the most. Begin a tradition of giving or, if you’ve already started, keep the tradition going. Remember, it is better to give that to receive.