Inspirational Giving Challenge: Be a Philanthropist! [Open Exchange Magazine]

2005 Aug Open ExchangeBy Jaya Schillinger
Open Exchange Magazine, Summer 2005.

One of my recent New Year’s resolutions was to become more generous. I was motivated by wanting to break a general feeling of entrepreneurial financial anxiety, as well as to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming “a philanthropist.” (Big word for a little kid, but I was precocious.) Not being wealthy, telling myself to spend more money was a challenge! But you know what? I no longer feel a “tightness” that I used to experience, worrying about the small stuff. And I feel really good about running my small business consulting firm in a way that represents my values. If you’d also like to be more generous, but find that money “scarcity” gets in the way, let me share a specific “how-to” technique that might work for you, too:

Of the many ways there are to be charitable, cash donations seem to make small business owners the most nervous. They are often generous with giving services and even products away, but when it comes to money it seems there’s never enough to go around. It’s hard to justify giving away money when you’ve also got bills that are due. But what if you gave just a little bit? Most of us can come up with a few dollars when we really want to. But when we feel financially scarce, we tend to lock down our impulses to share what little we have and isolate ourselves with our fears.

There is a mystical thing that can happen when one digs deep in the pockets and gives something that feels scarce to give away. After an initial nervousness, the heart opens, and almost magically— the scarcity melts. We have stretched ourselves and it feels good! And the effects can be life-changing. With continued generosity, we become comfortable with the flow of money into and through us. After I started donating a calculated amount each month, my income went up exponentially. I can’t explain how it works exactly, but it’s been amazing. My hunch is that it has something to do with building a conscious connection between your income and generosity. The more you earn, the more generous you can be.

There are in fact many books on the subject of tithing (donating a set % of one’s income on a regular basis to charities) as a way to increase one’s personal prosperity. The most common recommended amount is 10% of your income. If this idea is new to you, you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right! I can’t afford that much.” (At least that’s what I used to think.) But would you be willing to try it for just one month at a time?

So here’s how to start the Inspirational Giving Challenge:

1. Calculate your income at the end of this current month.

2. Donate just 1% of your net income to your favorite charity.

3. Then see what happens.

If your income goes up next month, then take Part 2 of the challenge: Donate 2% of your net income to your favorite charity. The idea here is to track your income each month and commit to increasing your tithing by 1% each month until you reach 10%.

Think about it: in less than a year, you will be a 10% giver. How would that make you feel? What’s the impact you will have on the world as your donations increase because of your business success? Big-time philanthropy isn’t just a hobby for the super-rich. Even if you’re just a sole proprietor or an independent professional, you are a vital part of the economy. Do good and watch what happens!

If you decide to try the Inspirational Giving Challenge, please let me know. I’d like to hear your story and include it as an example to inspire others.


© 2005 OPEN EXCHANGE P.O. Box 7880, Berkeley, CA 94707. (510) 526-7190


About the Author

Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.