By Terry Frisk
Happy new year! It feels good to put all the issues of 2020 behind us and greet the new year with renewed hope for the upcoming year. While there was much unrest over COVID-19, elections and racial tensions, there was one positive trend that emerged in 2020: generosity.
In a report by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, charitable contributions in the first half of 2020 increased 7.5% from the first half of 2019. This is despite the increase in the unemployment rate from 3.5% at the beginning of the year spiking to 14.5% in April before settling back to 11.1% in June.
In addition, GivingTuesday, the largest global generosity movement, reported that its December 1, 2020 one-day campaign received $2.47 billion in the United States alone. This was a 25% increase from the 2019 GivingTuesday campaign! WOW! It seems that the worst of times brings out the best in many of us. This reminds me of the Scripture passage in Paul’s first letter to Timothy:
“As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
While many people have struggled financially as a result of the economic issues of the year, many have prospered. God created us to be generous. It is natural for us to be thankful for the riches that God has given us and to share our rewards with others. In that act of sharing, we experience joy in “life that really is life.”
The renowned physicist Albert Einstein once said, “We know from daily life that we exist for other people first of all, for those smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.” This is why we celebrate the birth of our Savior by sharing the rewards of our good works through our gifts to others and, in so doing, bring great joy to us.
Generosity not only brings us joy, but we also reap rewards for our generosity. The cliché, “What goes around comes around” is generally used in the context of mistreating others. But the opposite is also true. Generosity begets generosity. Jesus stated this:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38
We know this to be true with friends and family. Those that we extend generosity to will reciprocate with generosity. Taking this concept to a higher level by practicing extreme generosity with those you do not even know will return even greater rewards. This does not mean a lapful of money will fall from Heaven. It means that people will respond warmly to your generosity and kind deeds. In her book, In the Garden of Delight, Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, “You don’t pay love back, you pay it forward.” This is widely considered the origin of the phrase “Pay it forward.” I have this written on Post-it notes hanging in my home, office and vehicle as a reminder to perform random acts of kindness each day. The personal rewards these random acts have brought include much joy.
Advent season is a time of great generosity. Keep the momentum going into the new year. Experience the joys and rewards for your continued generosity. Let’s make 2021 the best year ever!
Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.