How to be Generous Without Spending Money
Give your attention.
In a world of bright lights and loud noises, every dark corner of the street (and internet) has transformed into a neon billboard shouting, “Look at me!” Your attention is the centerpiece in a competition that generates $70B+ annually— we call it advertising. The dollars speak. Your attention is highly valuable.
Your attention is a weapon— how you wield it can advance the greater good, help the needy or simply make someone’s day brighter. Practice on a child. Children are grateful recipients of your undivided attention, they are not selling products or angling for “clicks” to their website. Children genuinely love being present and being seen. Children also teach us about receiving undivided attention from others. Give your attention to a person or organization who deserves it.
Give your time.
The most valuable asset we possess is time. With each moment that passes time slips into the past and we enter our inevitable future. Time is the most impactful and meaningful offering we have. Our busy world vies for our time and pulls us in every direction. Where you choose to spend your time can make a big difference in the lives of people who need it.
People tend to think of giving time as volunteering. While volunteering is excellent, it’s not the only way to give time. Giving time can be as simple as meeting a friend for coffee, mentoring a high-potential employee, or watching a friend’s children for a much-deserved date night.
Give your talent.
Your talent, knowledge and skills set can often help far beyond the dollars in your wallet. Each person is uniquely gifted and can contribute their gifts to help others. If you develop websites, there are small businesses and nonprofits that could greatly benefit from a nice website. If you like to garden, there is probably a derelict community garden near you that could use a gardener’s touch. With a little creativity, there is no limit to the many ways you can give your talent.
Donate your things.
The adage: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is true. Rather than tossing items that can be reused, donate. Some creative entrepreneurs make works of art out of trash. There are people in need everywhere, even simple things like an old pair of sneakers can make a big difference.
Technology distracts us from human interaction. We are endlessly “occupied” by our devices— skimming social media on the phone, watching television in the evening, utilizing computers all day at work. People forget how to be human when constantly pacified by technology.
Leave your phone out of sight when talking to people. Have a meal with your family with phones hidden and the television off. Play with your kids, no tablet, no TV—use your imagination again. Be present and really listen.
Share your community.
In a globalized world, people are more alienated than ever. Families live states apart, seeing each other only a handful of times per year. Create a community and share it with others. Communities are created with intention, they don’t magically form. Invite your local friends over for the Holidays—some of them may not have anywhere to go.