The Fruit of Passion (rated G)

Published 1:53pm Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An upfront disclosure is due to you as a reader; this is not a syrupy romance or a quirky recipe for passion fruit.

At our home, Thanksgiving Dinner, has always been preceded by having each person at the table share something for which they are thankful. These statements of gratitude have varied from young children saying simply, “I am thankful for the food grandma prepared,” or “I am thankful for mama.” to the more profound and telling. One year we said, “I am thankful that Joe is with us at the table.” This was the year that my teenage nephew was able to leave the hospital, during a long and difficult treatment for a deadly type of leukemia, and join us for Thanksgiving dinner. Imagine the thank-yous and gratitude in the years that have followed as he still joins us at that table almost twenty years later.

Taking time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for can act as a springboard that propels us towards giving. As our mailboxes fill up each day that moves us closer to the holidays, there will also be more solicitations for gifts from charities. In addition, the phone may ring more often as various charitable organizations embark on yearend giving campaigns. It can become overwhelming and difficult to know what charities to support, especially as these solicitations contain reminders of “how good we have it.” I suggest taking a planned approach to passionate giving.

How does a person plan to be passionate about giving? Determine what causes you would like to support using the following screening questions:

1. Where is the organization located and active? If it is important for you to see your gifts in action, consider including organizations that have a local impact or outreach. Supporting a local charity can also make it easier to see that the charity is using its donations responsibly. Perhaps you have a passion for people of a specific country or geographic location, or people who have suffered a loss through a natural disaster or war. If you are being asked to support a larger national or international organization, you may want to do research on how the organization uses their funding. The library can assist you in locating charity screening website tools.

2. When should I give? Develop a giving budget. Spend some time determining when it works for you to make your gifts. Give on your schedule. One way to support a charity is through monthly gifts. This allows you to know exactly what you are giving and when. It also allows the charity to plan for your gift in its budget. You may prefer to give at yearend or some other time of the year that works for your cash flow. Do what works for you and allows you to give joyfully not under duress. Remember that your giving budget is a guideline not a rigid rule. There may be specific situations that occur, like a natural disaster, that require some flexibility in your giving schedule.

3. Why am I giving? Reflect on why you are giving. Like my family’s Thanksgiving tradition of remembering to be grateful, spending time saying thank you for the ways we are blessed can remind us why we give. What are charities or causes to which you have a special connection? Is it a local arts organization where you have enjoyed music or a stroll through the gallery? A local pet shelter that rescued your cat? The church you attend? The college where you earned your degree? Or a health related cause that has touched your life? Our diverse and unique experiences will inform our decision.

4. How can I give? Remember that money is not the only way in which we can support charities or causes. Local charities are often looking for people willing to give of their time. As you think about the charities you support, investigate opportunities to give of your time or talent. Maybe there is a need in leadership, a board position. Maybe a volunteer is needed to sit at an information desk or act as an usher? Contact the charity and ask how you can give of your time.

As we move into the season of thankfulness and giving, consider becoming a passionate giver and enjoy the fruits of tat passion. You will change lives and create opportunities for gratitude in the hearts of others. You will be thankful that you are able to give on a consistent and planned basis. Consider sharing your plan with your family as you sit at the Thanksgiving table this year. Maybe you will inspire more people to passionate giving.


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