Did You Know That Generosity Can Be Measured?
There is an organization that focuses on measuring generosity across countries on an annual basis. It’s called the World Giving Index.
Which Country Do You Think Is The Most Generous?
It would be surprising to know that “Americans [meaning people from the United States] are among the most generous of people, though perhaps not the most generous.”
The World Giving Index has found that:
- Australia has been the most generous for over five years
- followed by Ireland
- and then the United States
Who Gives to Charities?
- 75% of the $335 billion that people in the United States donate to charity come from individuals.
- Meaning that the majority of donations don’t come from organizations or corporations
- In other words, donations come from people just like you and me given that on average, 66% of the people in the United States donate to charity every year.
- And while the most important thing is that you give what you can, on average, people in the United States donate an average of about $1,000.00 to charity each year.
Before you start questioning whether you are one of those people who donates more than $1,000.00 a year… wait.
These characteristics become more interesting by the minute. If you think that it’s the rich, the millionaires and the billionaires who give the most, you’re in for a HUGE surprise. It turns out that the poor and the middle class are particularly generous.
“Strikingly, those in the bottom 20% percent of incomes give away a higher percentage of their money (3.2 percent) than those in the top 20 percent (1.3 percent).”
An even ruder awakening perhaps is the fact that “for all our talk of the American dream, it has emigrated, and there’s now greater economic mobility in Europe than in the United States.”
But ultimately, giving is not a contest of who gives more. It’s a contest against yourself, if you can, give when you’re compelled to give regardless of how much people in your socio-economic class give. Give from the heart, not to keep tabs.
Do You Have Prejudices Against The Poor?
Hopefully you don’t.
Sadly, some people do.
According to brain scans conducted by Susan Fiske, a Princeton University scholar, “high-achieving people see images of poor people and process them as if they were not humans, but things.”
While hopefully none of us have gone that far as to dehumanize someone just because of their bank account, we can admit that at some point in our life we’ve wondered about the events that have led someone to be poor.
We’re told that “you study hard, you work assiduously, sacrifice for the future, obey the law, and create your own fortune,” as Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof say in their book A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. But with the most recent depression that the world has experienced, no matter how much you tell yourself this story, this is no longer true, particularly if you were negatively impacted by monetary limiting beliefs in the womb, in your childhood or even in your adulthood.
“If you’re born in a high-poverty neighborhood to a stressed-out single mom who scolds you more than she hugs you, in a home with no children’s books, you face a huge handicap.” -Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof
The University of Minnesota, has shared that “the kind of parenting a child receives in the first three and a half years is a better predictor of high school graduation than IQ.” This can be great if a child’s environment is stable and abundant, but if it’s not, you can help.
So at a minimum, give your compassion and your understanding.
Are Charities Trying To Do Anything Different?
Yes, they are.
According to Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof “Researchers are developing new evidence-based approaches, and more charities are starting to measure and track their results, so there is an emerging science of how best to make a difference.”
Charities are also becoming more efficient at saving lives and breaking the poverty cycle.
By overcoming disease and reducing malnutrition.
For example, The World Bank, which is an international financial institution that helps developing countries, wants to “eliminate extreme poverty, which was the condition of the great majority of humanity for most of our existence as a species, by 2030” sixteen years from now.
“We don’t have perfect tools or endless resources, as individuals or as nations, but we can do better if we put our hearts and minds to it.” -Sheryl and Nicholas
This includes the hearts and minds of everybody regardless of their socio-economic status.
So now, do you see why I’ve been talking about what a huge difference YOU CAN make for the last several weeks?
Helping someone in need is no longer something that you can put off until you’re better equipped to help. You can help NOW. Donations and eradicating poverty is no longer a utopian dream, it is a very possible reality we can see if our lifetime, if we remember that the life of others is worth the same as our own.” -Haydee Montemayor
More than money, eradicating poverty takes heart. It takes caring. It requires the straightening of priorities. It takes your committed love, my committed love and the commitment of as many caring people as possible.
What Types of Investments Are Charities And Organizations Finding Work Best?
According to a prior chief economist of the World Bank, Lawrence Summers, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world. The question is not whether countries can afford this investment, but whether countries can afford not to educate more girls.”
So whenever possible, invest in the education of girls because they are prone to be the best hope for the world.
What If I’m Worried That My Money Will Be Wasted?
Based on what we’ve heard from our friends and family, sometimes, we are scared to give money for fear that the people we give it to will misuse it for their own addictions.
Yet, as Nicholas Kristof says, even though poverty has a cycle in which hopelessness leads to self-destructive behaviors, “Learned helplessness be unlearned” through micro loans and entrepreneurship training even for poor people.
Through business opportunities and training that teach people action steps for creating a future in which people can learn how to sustain themselves, you provide hope and you help break the cycle of poverty.
The benefit of helping women establish businesses has been studied. In their book Half the Sky, Sheryl and Nicholas state that “Evidence has mounted that helping women can be a successful fighting strategy anywhere in the world, not just in the booming economies of East Asia.”
Can Something As Difficult As Eradicating Violence Be Achieved Through Your Involvement?
As impossible as eradicating violence may seem, the answer is yes.
Even in the most dire situations, there is a very cost-effective model called Cure Violence that has been implemented in Iraq and Columbia, that has had success given that it has reduced serious violence by 25% or more.
Think about how much that saves lives and fosters a little bit of extra peace! And this is just the beginning, because this model could potentially reduce homicides by 70%.
What If You Were On The Receiving End of Charity?
As tough as it may be for you to think that you’ll ever be on the receiving end of charity, the likelihood of it happening is greater than you think.
As Sheryl and Nicholas eloquently invite us to consider:
- “Let’s remember that the difference between being surrounded by a loving family or being homeless on the street is determined not just by our own level of virtue or self-discipline but also by an inextricable mix of luck, brain chemistry, child rearing, genetics, and outside help.”
- “Let’s recognize that success in life is a reflection not only of enterprise and willpower but also of chance and early upbringing, and that [most importantly], compassion isn’t a sign of weakness but a mark of civilization.”
At some point, and the earlier the better, you have to stop thinking that life is about us vs. them, or you vs. me, but instead of “we.” This has been happening for the past 250 years, but it can produce much better results than it has… not only in quantity-wise, but also in quality-wise.
For example, “today, almost any university bulletin board will have a poster appealing on behalf of some faraway group, but in historical terms, that is a recent phenomenon. There’s probably more regard for chickens and cows today than existed a few centuries ago for slaves or foreigners.”
And when said that way, the question is, are we capable of having as much as or more regard for our fellow human beings than we have for our fellow animals.
I believe the answer should be yes.
So it’s not about how much we help, but how well we help. And the best way we can help is with love and dignity.
What If Your Effort to Give Fails?
Isn’t failing at something kind better than not trying? Of course.
Besides, kindness, love, compassion and hope will never be a failure.
The hardship in the world isn’t an excuse for us to throw our arms up and think, “oh well, I can’t do anything to help.”
On the contrary, “some of the greatest successes the world has experienced have come from movements to address inequities or injustices, from slavery to hunger.”
As late author Randy Pausch suggested in his book, The Last Lecture, (which is one of my all-time favorite books), “brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. ”
I truly believe, as much as I’d like you to be loved and be happy, that there comes a point in which each and every one of us realizes that we can never fully be loved, feel fully loving or be fully happy knowing that someone is suffering, because their suffering, really, fundamentally and at it’s core is our suffering.
And this is not just sweet talk.
“If you scan the brain of a person who is injured and also that of a witness to the injury, the areas activated are similar; at a neurological level, we are pained by other people’s suffering.”
Why Does Giving Opportunity to Women Benefit Us All?
You probably have heard from authors, entrepreneurs or leaders that what will reshape the world positively are women.
I absolutely agree.
This isn’t an issue of males vs. males. It’s a matter of observing the trend.
Even in these last decades, where women have been oppressed, no matter how difficult and traumatic their life experiences have been, many of the survivors are literally heroes.
They have overcome the types of negative experiences that most of us only see in nightmares. They have obtained jobs and established businesses.
And what have they done with the money that either they’ve earned with all their effort or have obtained from the support of others?
- They have used the money to support their parents, support their younger siblings, get married, raise a family and save for the future education of their children.
- In a nutshell, they’ve saved people. And by saving their families, they are restoring hope to villages, cities and nations worldwide.
Imagine if women didn’t have the courage or the resilience to do this?
How much worse would the world be? The answer to that question could very well be the nightmare that we should most fear.
So, if there is any group of people who deserve mentions from movie stars, rock stars, private concerts, media attention, visits from presidents and lifetime benefits for their work, it’s these women.
It’s one thing to go into battle and kill, it’s another to live in emotional battlefields and love. -Haydee Montemayor
The women whom I’ve talking about have transcended their oppression and have become an inspiration to families, friends and generations.
Many entrepreneurs I know want to improve their business earnings, simply to be able to have the honor of helping women who show us what it means to honor love.
What Will Be The Outcome Of Your Act Of Giving?
You’ll have a surprising outcome.
“Our efforts to help others have a mixed record, but they have an almost perfect record of helping ourselves. – Nicholas Kristof”
Why? The person who will most be helped will be you.
According to research studies, when you give, receive, have intimacy or eat find food, your brain lights up in the same way. So in essence, being altruistic, is one of the most “selfish” things that we can do, due to the fulfillment it brings.
Sheryl and Kristof, therefore invite us to “think of giving back not as a dreary means to a tax deduction, but as a chance to inject meaning, wonder and fun into life.”
As a matter of fact, there are many institutions that provide a fun setting for their donors and obtain donations in that setting such as through dinner fundraisers and parties. So you can have lots of fun creating awareness for these issues.
When we participate in this path of hopefulness, we discover that it’s a path of fulfillment. “Typically, we start off by trying to empower others, and end up empowering ourselves, too.”
What Are Your Wisdom Tokens?
- So, are you inspired to help?
- What has been your greatest inspiration in the last few weeks?
Of course, giving is a very personal thing, and ultimately whether you decide to move from inspiration to action will be totally up to you.
However, you can create a new family tradition of giving. On Tuesday, December 2nd, the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can join in on spending a bit of cash on causes that you deem worthy. For reference, you can revisit, the prior post called How You Can Help Women and Children To Show Them Your Love . After all, that day is considered #GivingTuesday. But then again, every day of the year is a day to give.
Please share your comments below and share this post with people who might love to be part of the #Giving Tuesday fun.