years ago, my wife Anne and I decided to give away all
of my anticipated second inheritance. Risking my grandfather's
incredulity and disapproval, we asked him if he would
be willing to change his will to direct our $300,000 share
to a charitable fund. As it turned out, Grandpa signed
in the change the day before he died.
then, even with an unpredictable stock market, increased
family expenses, and giving between 5 to 20 percent of
annual income, our assets from my first inheritance have
grown. We often feel torn about how much to give, and
we recognize that we aren't fully committing ourselves
as givers. We know many hard-working social entrepreneurs
and creative nonprofits that continue to fall short of
their life-changing capabilities for lack of more support.
How satisfied are you with what you give and how you determine
our work counseling wealthy people, Anne and I often hear
how difficult it is to figure out how much to give, even
for those who give a lot. Many find their methods arbitrary
"how much" is not the only question to consider. What
to give to is at least as important, and quite interconnected:
when we are deeply moved by a project, and clear about
our goals, our giving increases. Yet we decided to focus
this issue of
More than Money
specifically on the
"how much" question because, other than the age-old guideline
of tithing (giving 10 percent of annual income), there
are few helpful models for people who wish to grow as
givers. Our goal is to show some specific, creative strategies
people use in deciding how much to give, and how to address
some of the most common barriers to actualizing full giving
is hard when it challenges us practically or emotionally.
If our lives are crazily full with careers, parenting,
or other pursuits, how can we make the time that thoughtful
philanthropy requires? How can we involve ourselves deeply
in nonprofits so we have a visceral experience of their
needs and successes? Furthermore, if our peers are alienated
by wealth or our families react with fear or outrage when
we "invade our capital base," where do we find support
for greater giving?
"how much" also requires looking factually at our assets,
income, spending habits, taxes, and financial goals. It
may mean talking to aging relatives about their estate
plans, facing our own deaths, and thinking through exactly
what kind of financial boost we want to give our children.
It may stir up questions about faith, security, justice,
privilege, and life purpose.
challenges don't need to inhibit us. As inspiration, we
offer this issue, filled with stories of people who are
surmounting these barriers to give more boldly. One key
lesson is that giving will sustain few people's interest
if it is about "shoulds" or feeling guilty for what they
enjoy. Giving is more exciting to most of us when it is
an expression of our love for the earth and humanity,
and an exploration of the potential power of our creativity,
commitment, and pocketbooks.
deeply believe that if all of us were part of a community
of givers, where we talked about the joy of giving, and
where we helped each other with the nitty-gritty tasks
and daunting questions, we'd find the path of greater
giving not only do-able, but irresistible. May
encourage you to find or create such a
community, and to grow into the kind of giver you most
want to be.
Mogil, for the editors
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