About Giving Speaks

I am a stewardship and fundraising professional, with a faith development background. I am also a speaker and workshop leader focusing on topics of generosity, giving and stewardship.

Living and Giving for a More Meaningful Life

dollars in coffee cup

On my way to work, I drive by a number of panhandlers that station themselves on the median strips around the intersection.  Most carry signs that state they are homeless,out of work and in need of money.  The city has tried to address the “problem” of panhandling through ordinances that ban the practice, but that hasn’t worked. Clearly, the issue is more complex than keeping people from loitering on the city medians. We’ve all heard the arguments for and against giving money to panhandlers. I understand the concerns involved.

However, what I do know is that I have enough resources to meet my basic needs, and more.  I have enough to share with another person whose circumstances have resulted in standing out in the elements, holding a cardboard sign asking for help, and enduring humiliation and public scrutiny. My current practice is to give one of these folks a dollar bill and a package of hand warmers, a power bar, or a frequent buyer card for a free cup of coffee at Whole Foods. My hope is that this action affirms another person’s humanity and perhaps eases their difficulties for a time. I experience deeper appreciation for the abundance and find greater meaning in my life through this simple act of generosity. This doesn’t preclude me from giving to my faith community, social service agencies, and other good causes.  I do that also.

A recent Barna Group article on research findings that indicate that 75% of adults in the United States are seeking ways to live more meaningful lives.  This involves an integration of all aspects of daily living–family, home life, vocation, religious or spiritual involvement, education, and community engagement–with one’s values, goals, and sense of calling. This is not an easy balance to achieve with the cultural pressure to make money, stay ahead of the bills, maintain relationships with family and friends, and generally stay out of trouble.  But, we all know there is more to life than just keeping our heads above water…we thrive when we gain a sense of well-being and happiness that comes from a strong social support network, freedom to make choices in our lives, and experiencing generosity.  As Tom Ahern puts it in his presentations, “Living up to our personal values is a pleasure. There is dopamine involved.”

Those of us working in the realms of fundraising and stewardship must remember the importance of connecting personal values, lifestyle choices, happiness, and opportunities for expressing generosity when framing our fundraising appeals and events. A growing body of philanthropic data indicate that today’s donors seek deeper connections with the causes to which they contribute. They aspire to live up to their personal values through their giving. Younger donors want to make a positive difference in the lives of people and in the world through their contributions of time and money. In these ways giving becomes an integral and meaningful part of daily living, enhancing the well being of all involved and society at large.

Barna Group. Three Trends on Faith, Work and Calling. February 11, 2014.https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/649-three-major-faith-and-culture-trends-for-2014#.UwLBrfldWSo

Public Broadcasting System (PBS). This Emotional Life. Alturism & Happiness.           http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/altruism/altruism-happiness http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/altruism/types-giving

World Happiness Report 2012                         http://unsdsn.org/resources/publications/world-happiness-report-2013/

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Holiday Giving–Five Ways to Experience the Spirit of Generosity this Season

2012-07-06 14.05.54 The Holiday Season at its best is filled with joyful giving, loving relationships, and spirited celebration. At least this is what our favorite Christmas music, old movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and December TV commercials tell us. We hold onto these warm sounds and images, in part because they inspire hope in our lives and help us adjust our attitudes toward others in positive ways. However, our super-charged consumer culture creates intense pressure to spend, entertain, and give gifts, sometimes heightening our expectations to idealized proportions. This can add stress to our lives and begin to seem out of control and overwhelming for many of us. But, if we can pause for a moment to reflect, we have the opportunity to experience moments of true generosity and the spirit of the season.

Five ways experience the spirit of generosity during the Holidays:

1) Experience Gratitude—Take some time to reflect on the people and things in your life for which you are grateful. This is easier said than done during the busy-ness of holiday preparations, but it can actually help relieve some stress and bring a fresh perspective. Start by taking a deep breath, close your eyes, push the negative, painful thoughts out of the way to focus on the simplest gifts received, then expand from there: a smile, a cheerful greeting, finding a shiny coin or lost item, cuddling with a pet, a hug from a loved one….

2) First Things FirstKnow who and what is most important to you and adjust your expenditures of time and energy accordingly. Our jobs, homes, and other tasks and responsibilities require our attention, to be sure. However, no amount of time spent shopping, decorating, cooking, or cleaning is more important than time with your loved ones, friends, and time for yourself. 

3) Values GivingYour giving should clearly align and demonstrate your deepest held values in harmony with your gift recipient’s whenever possible. In addition to giving someone a tangible item, think creatively, and have fun connecting values with gift giving. Donner all ears

Is your sister an animal lover? Make a donation to her local humane shelter in her honor.

Does your mother like to reuse and recycle? Get a gift certificate to her local thrift shop.


Is your friend experiencing illness or stressful life circumstances?  Offer to do some household chores or make her a cup of tea and visit a while.

Has your father devoted years of service to his church board? Create a book of pictures and mementos and/or make a gift to his church in honor of his years of service.

4) Receive WellThe spirit of generosity is nurtured early in our lives through our experiences of receiving, initially through the love and attention of a trusted caregiver. Our attitudes about giving and generosity are largely shaped by our family culture and religious teachings. These are complex messages and not always positive. It is not uncommon to feel unworthy of someone’s gift, or awkward about receiving a gift with nothing to give in return. In most cases, those giving the gift experience pleasure in doing so. Practice gracious receiving and watch someone’s eyes light up!

5) ThankRemember to express appreciation and gratitude for the gifts that bless your life, whether they may be simple and small, elaborate and substantial, or somewhere in between. GivingThanks-floral

My wish for you is that, together, we help expand awareness about the power of philanthropy and giving as a means of transforming our world and the lives of its inhabitants. I have found that happens one choice at a time, one act of giving at a time, one person at a time.

May it be so for you and yours this season of giving and light!


Giving Speaks volumes about life, love, and community~