9 Simple Ways To Be More Generous

A few weeks ago, I was traveling for work. When I landed at the airport, I went to Enterprise to rent a car and was greeted by a woman about my age who gave me exceptional service. Even though the facility was small, crowded, and noisy, she spoke clearly, worked efficiently, and smiled effortlessly. I was out of there and into my rental car in no time. As I was leaving, she gave me her card and invited me to contact her manager if I had received good service. She mentioned that she was up for a promotion and that any feedback would be really helpful.

I have to admit that I usually would have just listened politely, but I was really impressed with her service. When I arrived at my hotel, the first thing I did was pull out her card and message her manager. I have no way of knowing if she got the promotion, but this situation was a great reminder that a few seconds of my time can really make a difference.

I strive to live generously in all areas of my life, not just in traditional ways. In this season of giving, I think we all need a reminder that you don’t have to have a lot of disposable income to live generously. Giving to your favorite charity at the end of the year and celebrating those you love with the exchange of gifts are all great expressions of generosity, but there are also small things you can add into your daily routine to live more generously all year round.

Here are nine ideas to get started. Which one can you put into practice during this season of giving that will jump-start you toward a more generous way of living in 2019? 

1.     Slow Down and Listen: No matter your financial situation, we can all share the gift of time. One often overlooked act of generosity is taking the time to really listen to someone as they are speaking to you rather than listening to your own inner dialogue or deciding what you are going to say next.

Tip: Ready to give this a try? This Forbes article outlines steps you can take to become a better listener.

2.     Write a Positive Review: When you have a good experience, take the time to celebrate it with an online review. Like my story above, it can make a big difference for the individual or company that’s affected.

Tip: Start small: Commit to writing one review a month. Is there an employee at your local grocery store or restaurant who you really appreciate? Find a way to applaud their services.

3.     Clean Out Your Home: Let’s be honest: most of us have a lot more than we need. Take the time to identify clothing, possessions, even furniture that you are no longer using and find a better home for it. This act of generosity will have a positive effect on you, your home, and the people who benefit from your decluttering.

Tip: Re-gift your items to someone you know who could appreciate them. Take them to Goodwill or use a network like Freecycle. If the item can’t be re-gifted, find a way to recycle it. Check out these tips from Mindful to help you get your decluttering project started!

4.     Round Up: Want to support your favorite cause but don’t have a lot of disposable income? Consider rounding up your purchases to the next whole dollar amount and donating the spare change. While it may not seem like much to you, it can really add up over time.

Tip: Apps like Drop make it really easy to get started. Simply connect your favorite charity with a specific credit or debit card and start spending. If you make a lot of Amazon purchases, consider using Amazon Smile. In this case, you don’t even have to round up. Amazon just donates .5% of the price on eligible purchases to your charity.

5.     Invite People to Support Your Favorite Cause in Your Honor: Want to multiply your impact to your favorite charity? Invite people to give to it in lieu of gifts for your birthday or Christmas. Who knows? Your loved ones may even fall in love with your favorite cause, too.

Tip: Many charities now have templates to help you share your appeal on social media and educate your family and friends. Curious how this works? Take a look at how one of my favorite charities, charity:water, does it.

6.     Up Your Tip Game: Another often overlooked opportunity to be generous is tipping. My husband and I recently designated part of our giving fund to put toward extra generous tips. We just left our first really big tip at our local pizzeria and we had a blast deciding how much we wanted to leave. Given that the restaurant didn’t have many patrons on a Wednesday night, we’re sure the money was appreciated.

Tip: Struggle to calculate the tip? Use one of these apps. Or, set aside a sum of money that you can use to give more generous tips when it feels appropriate.

7.     Take on the Administrative Fees: We’re quick to criticize charities that spend too much on administration and promotion, and yet this is how your favorite cause gets the word out. One way to assist their effort is to cover part of their administrative fees when you make a donation. Usually it’s just a few dollars on top of your gift.

Tip: Next time you see this opportunity, take advantage of it. Those few dollars may not mean much to you, but they can go a long way toward helping your favorite organizations bring attention to their cause. Not sure if you can spare the extra cash? Include these fees in your gift. So, if you planned to give $25, give $22 and put the extra $3 toward administrative fees.

8.     Become a Sustainer: This just might be my favorite giving trend. A sustainer is someone who gives to an organization on a recurring, monthly basis. I’m currently a sustainer for MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) and St. Olaf College;  they both have my permission to withdraw a specific amount from my bank account each month. Instead of having to make the decision to give, I have to take a step to stop giving, if I ever want to. Sustainers are vital to the health of many non-profits because these recurring donations, rather than one larger donation at a certain time of year, help non-profits keep a steady income stream throughout the year.

Tip: Does your favorite cause have a sustaining giving option? If so, opt in. Even a gift of $5 or $10 per month can make a difference. Disappointed that your favorite cause doesn’t have it? Don’t worry. You can create your own sustainer experience by giving on a recurring basis using the bill pay feature from your bank account. This is how I give to my church — so that no matter where I am, I know I’m supporting its ministry.

9.     Start a Giving Fund: As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, my giving fund is one of the biggest joys of my financial life. My husband and I contribute to this savings account regularly so we can give spontaneously to our favorite causes or support family or friends in need. Our only rule is that we can’t use the money on ourselves. This fund has helped me look at the world through the lens of generosity and abundance because I have the means to help — even if it’s just in a small way.

Tip: If you’re married, this can be a great project to take on together. Challenge each other to find new and different ways to be generous. Bend the rules — you don’t always have to give to the same organizations in the same way.

Have you found any simple ways to be more generous? Share below!

P.S. - Just in case you missed it, I shared my first FB Live last Friday. See the replay on my Facebook page!