Whereas giving back develops the qualities of obligation, obedience, and commitment, contributing helps foster generosity. We often donate money to a given cause or organization that in some way we feel connected to, whether we benefit from their services, are “one of them”, or just appreciate what they are trying to achieve in the world. There are then times when it’s not ourselves who directly benefit, but someone we love, who are trying to raise funds for something, or they themselves need the benefit (say for health treatments or paying for college). There could be a sense of justice and compassion motivating it, such as anonymously buying up medical debt. Whatever the reasons behind our contributions, we should ask ourselves if the use to which the money will be put is congruent with the above principles that you’ve identified as being important. Helping an organization by contributing funds to be used for their overhead expenses is really helpful so that they can carry out the lifesaving programming. The dollar may not go to the orphan child, but it’ll ensure the social worker has an office to provide therapy for the kid. But do your due diligence, read the reality, assess the situation, and make sure you’re not simply funding an organization that’s bloated, mismanages funds, or perpetuates conditions in which people live.

Often, to do that screening requires being actively involved. And that’s when it stops being about just throwing money at problems and actually rolling up our sleeves to pitch in. This volunteering will also help our mental health, getting us out to meet with others, involving ourselves to alleviate other’s burdens. And hopefully, we can then find ways to enable everyone to pay it forward.

This book is a work in progress and we’ll all benefit from your input and collaboration. In the “Leave a Reply” below, please post examples, comments, questions, and needed edits. By posting, you grant permission for inclusion of any content to become part of the book, now or in the future, in whatever form it may take. I’ll give attributions to the extent possible. I know sharing about our financial lives can be sensitive, so if you want to share anonymously, please use the contact form instead and I’ll honor your request.

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