Have you ever walked through a shopping centre, only to be accosted by someone in a coloured vest and a clipboard, asking you for a donation? They’re over-the-top friendly. They say “Hi!” and strike up a conversation. They may ask you a question, appealing to your kind and helpful nature. I understand that they’re just trying to do their job, but I always found these encounters with a charity salesperson to be a truly unpleasant interaction. No one wants to feel guilted into giving their money away. Nowadays I don’t find it quite so bad and that is because I have found a way to feel abundant AND say no to most of these requests.
Truth or Woo-Woo?
Ah, abundance. It’s a bit of a loaded word, isn’t it? Many pragmatic and sensible people fob it off as being a woo-woo, hippy-dippy load of rubbish. And then there are people who believe it’s the secret to the universe providing all they’d ever dreamed of. Personally, I like myself a little bit of woo. While I like to rely on science and facts in making many decisions (i.e. to vaccinate my child), I also recognise that there is a lot that science can’t explain and sometimes to retain the magic of life, really doesn’t need to.
One of my guiding principles is that our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings influence our behaviour and that our behaviour and actions affect our results. Therefore, our thoughts and feelings are very important for us to consider when we’re intentionally creating the life we want. Whether you believe that is a result of luck, hard work, the Universe or a guardian angel, it really doesn’t matter. What is important is understanding that you have the power to create your reality by creating a feeling of abundance within you.
Your money or your life
If you’re anything like me, you want to know that you’re making a positive impact in the world. If you had a magic wand, you would eliminate poverty, racism, hatred and suffering all in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, the magic wand isn’t available to us, but there are always things that we can do to positively impact the lives of those less fortunate. Personally, I have found that generosity not only helps to heal the world but is also one of the best ways to cultivate abundance.
I know that the idea of generosity creating abundance may seem a bit backwards. Many people would think that first, you need to feel abundant and then you can be generous. But I promise you the giving comes first. Sometimes this can be giving a smile to a stranger, giving your love and attention to someone who needs it, volunteering at a homeless shelter or donating goods you no longer need. But, no less significant, it can be giving your money to a charity you believe in.
For a long time, I thought that giving money was a lazy alternative to volunteering my time. I also thought that it would be better for me financially to give my time than spend money on an (often administrative-cost heavy) charity. But as the demands on my time have increased I’ve started to consider my time as more valuable than money. As a consequence, I’ve discovered that donating cash is the best way for me to contribute right now.
Having a strategy
Back to the shopping centre, with that annoying guy dressed in the Koala suit, or yellow vest, or… you know the one. How can we cultivate a feeling of abundance when we feel we are being coerced into handing over our cash, jostled into signing up for a direct debit or just plain guilted into taking action? Here is my strategy.
As with anything important, we want to make our decisions from the conscious part of our brain. Making on the spot decisions about whether to donate to a charity is more likely to be made from a place of panic, guilt or some other subconscious emotional pattern. In association with your budget, decide on how much you can and want to donate. There isn’t a right or wrong amount here, it is whatever you feel most comfortable (and abundant) committing to.
Align it to your values
Once you’ve decided on the annual amount that you’d like to donate, it’s time to work out where you want your money to go. You will instinctively know what causes are important to you, but you may also want to do your research to establish which charities have the biggest impact and the lowest administrative costs. Choose as many or few as you feel are important, keeping in mind that you will have to split your total annual donation between them. As a family, we have three designated charities. How many you choose will (and should) be unique to you and what you value.
As a finance nerd, I love this part. Set up a regular monthly direct debit for each of your chosen charities for the amounts you have decided on. The thing I love about this is that you consistently get to feel abundant without having to worry about the logistics or administration of it. Even better, you get to say “No, thank you.” to the guy (or girl) in the shopping centre, knowing that you are already doing your bit for the causes that are most important to you. No guilt, no shame, no internal conflict – just a smile, and a whole lot of abundance.
Allow for Exceptions
Keep in mind that there will likely be exceptions. For example, during the Australian Bushfires, our family made one-off donations to two different charities, because we felt called to do so. On other occasions, if a friend takes part in a charity event we may choose to sponsor them. Again, we do this because it feels good and not out of guilt or obligation. Whether you budget for these exceptions or not, is your choice, but just know that they will happen. Whether you decide to donate or not, it’s ok. It doesn’t have to throw you off course or make you feel any less abundant.
A note on COVID-19
Finally, I know that for some people the idea of giving to charity right now feels like an impossible act. If you’ve lost your job and you’re struggling financially, then I encourage you to find other ways to cultivate abundance. You may have more time on your hands to volunteer for a beach clean-up, help out at a homeless shelter, or to declutter and donate goods to a nearby Women’s Shelter. However, if you can still afford to donate, I encourage you not to stop at this time. The coronavirus has created a lot of panic, fear and a scarcity mindset and right now abundance can go a long way.
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