Out of Character

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

I have been blessed with amazing people in my life. People who do things just because. I have been overwhelmed by their generosity, whether I have personally been the recipient or simply a bystander. I like to think that people are genuinely good, and are always a cheerful giver.

I have recently been exposed to a growing population of donors who seem out of character from those I have described above. It has me questioning if a greater part of society now has ulterior motives when charity is involved. For example, I had one guy tell me that he donated because he wanted the recognition. And a girl confessed that she only gives if she gets something like a t-shirt out of it. Charity, to them, is seen as a good deed in which they receive an immediate reward. In their cases, they justify giving for superficial or materialistic reasons. Upon further questioning, they knew very little about the organizations that they contributed to… and they weren’t concerned about how their donations were put to use.

Even local businesses seem to want to gain from charity events. My brother has been planning a tweetup to benefit a local food bank. He and I were both shocked at the number of restaurants wanting us to pay to reserve a space. Similar events hosted by my brother have driven large amounts of people into businesses. When he explained that he would bring in new customers, increase sales, and promote the venue in exchange for a small space to hold the charity event, the restaurants still asked for money.

So, I have to ask… does anyone give to support a valid cause? Or more so, does anyone give from the heart, just to give?

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Giving should not just be confined to our debit cards either. There are many ways to give without money being involved. If making a monetary contribution leaves you feeling less-than-cheerful — which in this economy is possible — consider giving in other ways. What makes you happy? If you enjoy cooking, make a little extra and take part of the meal to a local soup kitchen. Are you a shopaholic? Try eliminating an article of clothing for each new piece you purchase, then donate the old clothing to a nearby homeless shelter. Love music or art? Contact area nursing homes to schedule a time to make crafts with or sing songs to the residents. Do you like when someone gives you a compliment? If so, extend a nice comment to a stranger. Even telling someone that you love their outfit (and mean it) is a way to be charitable. Whatever fills your heart with happiness, take the time to share that with others. Giving without expecting anything in return will be more rewarding than expecting a t-shirt.

Let Us Do Good to All People

I love to give. I will donate my time, my services, and/or my money to just about any legit charity. It apparently is no secret.

This morning, I awoke to a text message asking me if I’d like to purchase a tub of cookie dough for a preschool fundraiser. This is the 5th tub of cookie dough that I’ve been asked to purchase in the past week. Apparently, people freely spend $15 on 3lb of frozen lard & sugar. Although I have graciously declined everyone’s offer to purchase something so incredibly unhealthy, I don’t mind sending a check over to the schools to show that people actually DO give without expecting anything in return…

…or do they? Am I the only person who does this? My mind became cluttered with so many thoughts, and I suddenly questioned how (and why) these fundraising efforts work.

I have been fundraising for various charities for 15 years now. I have raised thousands of dollars for well-known nonprofits. The most successful fundraisers have been those where people purchased something, knowing that a portion of their proceeds go to charity. No one stops to ask how much; they seem fine with just knowing “some” of it does. The more I pondered over that, the more I became frustrated. Why do so many schools hold these fundraisers? Why cookie dough? Shouldn’t we be promoting a healthier society? Are these fundraisers really necessary? What is purchased with these donations? Why won’t people give just $5 to MY kids?

There… I said it. Perhaps part of my frustration is that I see healthy children going to private schools here in the United States of America trying to raise money – and succeeding – while “my” kids in Haiti struggle to have food to eat. Most of them do not own shoes, and their families (if they’re blessed with families) do not have transportation. That means these sweet children have to walk barefoot over rocks and through unclean water. So many Haitian children are still living in tents, having lost their homes to the 2010 earthquake. The “fortunate” children who live in houses still do not have running water and electricity. A large amount of children in Haiti never get an education. There are also a lot of children who have medical problems that cannot be cared for in their country. They have to go through a long application process and waiting period to see if they are even eligible to come to the US to receive treatment. Since when did a human life fall short to luxuries of education here in the States?

It is so hard for me to understand why I can’t even get small donations for our mission. I’m not asking for much… less than a tub of cookie dough! I am asking folks to please give up a McDonald’s combo meal or a Starbuck’s Venti Latte for just one day. Then, donate $5 a month to Invest Hope… or another charity in a country stricken with poverty and disease. If you’d prefer to stay local, please find a Children’s Home, Food Bank, Shelter, or Special Needs program in your area. Look for the small, struggling nonprofits who have a greater and more direct impact to their communities. Give to them without expecting anything in return… and I promise, you will receive more satisfaction from it than you will ever get from cookie dough.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…”
– Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

To learn more about Invest Hope, click here. For details on how you can invest hope in the future of Haitian children, please contact us at info@investhope.com or on Facebook or Twitter.