“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them” Saint Augustine
When we give well, we build connections. Our attention, our efforts, and our money create bridges to other people and to the world around us. But what kind of connections are we building? Are they an inch wide and a mile deep or a mile wide and an inch deep? Do they come from the heart or from habit? And are they connections for good or connections for networking?
If you’re like me, you want your giving to matter, and you want your connections to be mutually nourishing and make an impact. You know that generosity rightly understood is transformational, not transactional.
People know in their hearts that bigger giving is not better……. better giving is better. Folks want to take their generosity to a new level. They want to create a legacy of true change, to leave the world better than they found it. But they also want to get more satisfaction from the way they give.
Right now, the largest transition of wealth in history is underway, with the traditionalist WWII generation passing their assets to baby boomers and their adult children. In addition, boomers themselves have had wealth-building lives and have an opportunity to pass on a holistic model of generosity to their heirs if they can just find a way to do so.
I know many people who are bored with their giving or maybe frustrated that their desire to be generous doesn’t match up with the action they take. They’re worn out from the experience and disappointed with the results of their giving, and that unhappiness is holding them back from doing more.
I see three Generosity Gaps that explain why generous people aren’t giving as much as they want to.
- The Action Gap: It’s not the right time.
People facing this gap feel moved to be generous but are waiting for a better moment.
- The Accumulation Gap: I don’t have enough.
People facing this gap see a world of challenges and scarce assets to meet those challenges.
- The Gratification Gap: I might be making a difference, but I’m not seeing lasting change.
People facing this gap wonder whether their generosity really matters.
These Generosity Gaps arise because we have been trained to see and practice the basics of generosity without imagining all that we are capable of. We think of the resources we have to give-our time, money and skills-in very constrained ways. How can we take our practice of generosity to the next level?
If you’d like to read more about these subjects, I go into more depth in Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life.
Next month we will be reminded about giving from our heart’s desire and acting from our renewable currencies.