Why would a millionaire give away a large part of his fortune? Why would a business school make available the content of all its business qualifications available for free?
To learn to give it is important to start with being able to receive and then getting better at knowing how to receive.
We all may think we are good at receiving but are we really? To be good at receiving requires gratitude. How grateful are we to each other for the contribution that each makes to our daily path? For most people there are real problems with being good at receiving – because we are so stuck in our internal view of the world in which we are self-important, lack humility and are still processing issues from our past. We fail to listen, discern right from wrong and we are stuck in our own drama. Once you can let your past go and become aware of the reality around you – you will become more grateful, more aware and more open to the possibilities of receiving. It is not useful to be stuck in the past – just let it go. The release of energy that comes from letting your past go – will fill you with gratitude. The gratitude that comes with being open to receiving, will allow you to receive more.
What do you do with more? More is useful if you need more, but what if you stop needing more? What if you have enough? For most of us this seems like an inconceivable possibility and we convince ourselves daily that we do not have enough. If you believe in an abundance view of the world, then you have enough every day and in every moment as your aliveness feed the having enough part. You have enough, only if you acknowledge that you have enough and you are grateful for what you have.
What happens after you have enough? The next step really is to give. For to be able to give, even if it only a little bit – is a joyful and happy event. To be able to give to another is our human purpose and according to some worldviews the start of our greatness. Not all giving in received with gratitude – but this is okay – for it is not the acknowledgement of receipt that makes giving great, it is the act of giving. To give unconditionally, without expecting even an acknowledgement, is an act of creation – it is pure joy and abundance.
It may not be possible to always give as much as one wants to – but even small contributions can make a large difference.
It is also not always possible to predict what you will receive, what you should do with it, or how it will end up. If you are willing to be a conduit then the universe tends to take you on a journey in which you tend to be exactly where you need to be, at any point in time. So of us call this synchronicity, but some know that it is acknowledgement that we are not separate from all that is around us.
The strange and mystical phenomenon that many experience is that once they start giving, the start receiving more. If we receive more, and we acknowledge that we need very little to sustain us – then we end up giving all the time. These people are people that seem to be always happy, giving and that travel a path that seems to open at every turn. We all like working with people that are happy. We like working with organisations that are progressive and we like flourishing in environments where we are supported. By having a giving approach to your daily task you find that receiving becomes less important and that you start to take charge of your own destiny and start shaping the destiny of yourself and others.
Altruism and generosity is proven psychologically to make people happier. Giving is also a spiritual principle in which the universe adds value to all that have the ability to see past where they are now.
The art of giving creates a support approach and support system. It is the support system that shapes great companies, great individuals and that marks history with greatness. It starts from the top and it permeates throughout the organisation. Selfish people do not tend to join or build strong organisations that grow – they tend to build small organisations that are focused on eeking out the last cent out of any joy that may be present in an organisation.
Many companies view corporate giving as a strategy to increase brand value. Despite the fact that almost all companies contribute some money to charity, corporate philanthropy is not often well understood and can often be seen as quite controversial. The people that promote corporate giving believe that companies have a moral obligation to improve the communities in which they do business. Another view is that corporate giving programs consume company resources and, more often than not, further the goals of management rather than the goals of shareholders. Most recently public debate have sometimes elevated corporate philanthropy as “tantamount to theft” and “a tax on shareholders.” The opposing camps find common ground when corporate giving improves shareholder value as well as social welfare. There are quite a lot of literature around corporate social investment that would be too voluminous to
Another aspect of giving is volunteerism. In South Africa and Africa we do not generally have a culture of volunteerism but it is estimated that e.g. in the US it is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Volunteerism is also documented to create a “helpers high” (Alan Luks) and this phenomenon has been studied extensively.
Professor Stephen Post suggests that volunteer programmes need a range of factors to make them successful as a reward mechanism for giving. He suggests a range of reflection questions that is important to evaluate in making volunteer programmes work including:
- Are we caring for our volunteers?
- Are we acknowledging them thankfully and rewarding them?
- Are we preparing them well enough for their tasks?
- Are we giving each volunteer the right task?
- Are they flourishing and developing?
- Are we providing the right overall vision?
- Are we overwhelming any of them?
- Do they feel joyful in their activity?
- Are they doing this from passion?
- Are they being affirmed and told how valuable their actions are?
There are other initiatives such as the Art of Hosting (www.artofhosting.org) that focuses on creating a culture of conversation.
For many of us – giving seems so far off – but giving starts with being grateful for what we have, acknowledging that we have what we need and starting to share smiles, laughs and living with others. You do not have much to start giving and the reward is always bigger, although sometimes slightly unexpected.
For companies there are ways to gain through corporate giving but it needs to be done from the right philosophical base. Giving to enhance a brand – although it has value, is not always the right angle. Creative tools such as volunteerism taps into people’s spirit of giving, while unleashing potential and also adding value to communities. In the end it benefits the brand of the organisation as well.