One of the themes for my New Year‘s resolutions from last year was to become more generous. I was motivated by wanting to break a general feeling of entrepreneurial financial anxiety, as well as to begin fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming “a philanthropist.” (Big word for a little kid, but I was precocious.) Well, after reviewing my year, I can say that I really did make big progress. Sometimes it was challenging, especially spending money more freely than I have in the past. But you know what? I don’t feel that “tightness” that I used to experience, worrying about the small stuff. And I feel really good about running a corporation in a way that represents my values.
If you’re also feeling the call towards increasing your abundance & generosity through your work, here are a few ideas that I hope will inspire you:
Donate a set percentage of income. This is also known as “tithing,” and is what I personally do. Each month I donate 10% of my income to various non-profit groups. I started doing this a few years ago, but only at 1% of my net income. Then each month I would increase by one percent until I got to 10%. Now, I’m starting to tithe from my gross income. It’s a stretch, but the kind of stretch that feels good for the soul.
Provide hands-on help, also known as “service tithing”, this is where you give your time & expertise to a cause that’s important to you. If you’ve got a mental job, it can feel great to get your hands dirty and donate some physical labor, such as working for nature conservancy or building construction. But don’t overlook your business skills as a powerful donation, because a lot of non-profit groups really need administrative work to stay in business.
Give away your goods or services. Many charities host auctions as a way to generate cash. Not only is this a way to help the charity, but it can serve to promote your business in a positive light. Just for the record, it’s important to know that donated services are not deductible, only tangible merchandise is considered a write off. So check with your accountant on how to handle the paperwork.
Make people feel special. Generosity is more than helping the less fortunate. It’s acting with warmth and abundance to everyone around you. I try to remember birthdays, or send a card when I know someone is having a tough time. At the end of the year, I give gifts or tips to my various support people such as business consultants, stylists, cleaners, and pet-sitter. Random acts of generosity & appreciation can really make someone’s day–and yours, too.
Create generous contracts. As a business owner, you’ve really got to watch your bottom line. But you also have to know when to count your pennies and when to be the bigger person. For example, you might have a strict no-money back cancellation policy to keep yourself from being taken advantage of (a good thing.) But if someone has a genuine emergency, consider making an exception. Compassion and understanding are gifts of your spirit and make the business world a better place.
There is an old spiritual adage that says if there’s something you want more of in life, then that is exactly what you need to give away. So think about the areas you would like more abundance, and use your business as a vehicle for becoming more generous in those ways. It will come back to you.