How to Be Charitable

I'm going to admit something that may upset a lot of people off: I didn't donate to the relief fund for Nepal.

Have I prayed for them? Yes.

Have I sent compassionate, healing thoughts for a swift recovery to those suffering? Yes.

Did I pull out my credit card and donate? No.

I'm also going to admit something else: When I'm in the grocery store check out line, and the screen appears, "Would you like to donate to prostate cancer research, or the animal shelter, or leukemia research ($1, $3, $5)?" I press the "No" button.

Does this make me a terrible, uncaring person? I know I'm not, so no it doesn't.

The other day, I was explaining this to my friend, and it kickstarted a critical conversation.

As a preface, I'd like you to know that my friend is a philanthropist.

He was talking about "random acts of kindness." He said something brilliant, "When I give, I never give randomly. Giving is intentional, always... There are the causes I care about, and that's what I give to. That's it."

My eyes lit up and my heart burst with agreement, "Yes! Yes!"

I believe this through and through -- We have to be selective with our giving. I don't believe that "you can never give too much." That's like saying, "You can never be too thin." Yes, yes you can.

We need to guard our resources, and carefully, mindfully give them. Although our money and our things don't belong to us (in the cosmic sense), we have been chosen to be the guardians of the world's resources. If we have resources, then we have a responsibility. We are being entrusted by the universe to give with conviction and intention.

There is a pragmatism and technique to giving. It is necessary to do our due diligence -- being completely aware of where the money is going, how the money is being dispersed, and knowing who is responsible for the allotment of our donations.

Intentional giving is influential, and has a lasting, profound effect.

If we want to make a difference in the world, we need to pick a cause and pour ourselves, our spirits into it.

We can't give to everything, it's just not possible, but we can devote our energy, our money, and our time to the things we care the most about.

I like to call this, selfish giving.

When I give selfishly, I become impassioned, and that passion creates change, repair and healing.

It may begin as selfish giving, but the action becomes selfless devotion to see it through, see it work, see it evolve, and see it change the landscape of my cause.

Our causes may wear different outfits, from helping the victims in Nepal, or breast cancer research, or women's rights in Uganda, or eradicating hunger in Somalia, or advocating for sustainably minded businesses in our community, or devoting our energy to raising our children and raising them well, or "intentionally" buying coffee for the man behind us in line at Starbucks.

These are all worthy causes.

One cause is not more important than the other. They are equal because when we give intentionally, selfishly to what we believe in, it in turn has an impact.

Our individual causes add up, helping others one-by-one, and ultimately, collectively we will save the world.

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