Generosity All Year Long

December 15th 2017, by Lyle E. Hershey

The time between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day is commonly referred to as the Giving Season. It is the time when many of us purchase and distribute Christmas gifts to family and friends, and according to one study, this is the time when non-profit organizations receive 24% of their total annual charitable contributions. Year-end charitable giving is often motivated by a current year charitable tax deduction.

This entire Giving Season thing makes sense to me, and some of my giving takes place during this time of the year as well. At the same time, it bothers me that we tend to compartmentalize our generosity into a season. It seems to me that if generosity is a valuable life exercise, we shouldn’t primarily practice it during a five or six-week period once a year.

How can I de-compartmentalize my generosity? I think it starts by thinking about generosity as a lifestyle and not as an activity. Each morning I should wake up and think about how I can be a generous person today. This will help me to build a generosity routine into my schedule.

In 2017, I decided to volunteer as a soccer coach for our local club soccer team. As you can imagine, this was a significant time commitment for me. At times it pushed me to the verge of being over committed, but it kept my attention and focus on others instead of on my own potentially selfish agenda. It was a way for me to share my love for soccer with a bunch of 10 and 11-year olds.

I urge you to consider engaging in something in 2018 that forces you to shift your focus from yourself to others. If you want to regularly practice generosity in the coming year, scheduling it in advance on your 2018 calendar might be a good way to actually make it happen.