‘Tis the Season

I’ve always loved this time of year. It might be because I enjoy cold weather toddies and trekking through the snow in my bunny boots, but I like to think it’s really because I love the spirit of the season.

‘Tis the season of giving.

In the not-to-distant past, when I worked for a another nonprofit, this was the only time of year I felt comfortable asking people to give. Right now, everybody is in the mood to be generous, so it never felt difficult to make the case. Why not share a little of the holiday joy with a charitable cause?

Of course, that’s all before I started working in philanthropy and now I see things differently.

Now, I have numbers running through my head, like: Less than 14% of Americans donate more than 2% of their yearly salary; 88% of Americans don’t give blood and only one in four Americans volunteered last year.

I get blue in the face talking about why it’s so important to give, why the things we love (the Butte, happy kids, bike paths and the Nutcracker) need our support. But, maybe it’s not just about giving because giving feels good. Maybe there’s more to it.

According to LearnVest, there are at least three tangible benefits to getting into the spirit this holiday season:

Giving can help you gain financial control

It sounds weird, but I can personally attest to how giving 10% of my yearly salary requires real financial planning and budgeting. It forces me to keep track of where and when I spend my money, because Kaladi’s today (and tomorrow) means no gift to Bike Anchorage next month.

Give with purpose

Channelling Warren Buffet, the concept is quite simple: Give to things you really care about. If you don’t believe in the charity, you won’t reap the same emotional benefit of being truly generous.

Give to give; not to get

And here’s the hard one: Give because it makes someone else’s life better, not your own.

I fall prey to this (see above sentence). I am a true blue Millennial after all – I like giving to things that give me something in return (like membership to a group), but according to researchers, the emotional benefit of giving only comes when we give altruistically.

So…while this may be a big season for  giving, it’s also a good reminder that there are so many reasons to give all year.