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~

Giving Speaks Consulting is Here for You!

Giving Speaks Consulting     Laurel Amabile, Giving Speaks Consulting

As an independent consultant, I am pleased to offer a menu of consultation services for your congregation, community organization, or small nonprofit entity, customized to suit your organization’s unique mission, objectives, priorities and needs.

If your organization has not recently clarified its strategic vision and/or mission, priorities, short term and longer term objectives, you may benefit from an assessment process. This type of in depth review of the organization and its funding programs can be a good place to start.

The charitable giving and fundraising landscapes are changing!

  • With the changes in the economy that are affecting charitable giving, it is more important than ever for organization leaders to follow best practices in their stewardship and know the most current strategies for effective fundraising programs.
  • Fundraising has changed dramatically in recent years with the increasing availability and social-networking and online media. Organization leaders must gain familiarity and comfort with these new fundraising opportunities.
  • Donors are more sophisticated and selective than ever before.  It is essential that you know how to relate to your donors effectively to maximize giving to your organization.

So, what does Giving Speaks Consulting have to offer?

  • Assessments of fund development programs and stewardship practices
  • Strategic visioning and mission clarification processes
  • Planning for short term, mid-range, or long-range objectives
  • Coaching for professional and board leadership
  • Training for stewardship and fundraising volunteers
  • Campaign planning
  • Preaching, worship planning, faith development, and workshop presentations

Workshops can be conducted as webinars for your congregation or organization using Skype, Google Hangouts, Go To Meeting, or FUZE.  This is a affordable and easily accessible means of providing your staff and volunteers with focused training in these vital areas of organizational health and well-being without the added costs.

Phone consultation is also available, in addition to onsite training and facilitation. Contact Laurel Amabile, Giving Speaks Consulting, for more information:

I look forward to hearing from you!  


Email:                                                                                          Linked In:  Laurel Amabile                                                                                                     Twitter:  Giving Speaks                                                                                                         Facebook: Laurel Amabile


Giving Goes Viral!

Holistic-Interconnectedness Welcome to the social revolution. The world is catapulting towards more connectedness, more interactivity and more community.   Change is occurring at exponential speeds we can barely keep pace with. Life it or not, “social”–the instant sharing of content using online technologies— is the new norm, and social media and social technology are the platforms and tools we must embrace if we are      to thrive in this new reality.

~Wealth Engine white paper 2012*

Our social networks are expansive, growing wider in scope and density with each click of the mouse and touch of the keyboard. We routinely search the Internet for anything we want to learn more about or find. We can do this on our desk top computer, laptop, or smart phone, from just about anywhere in the world where there is a signal. Most people visit an organization’s website before they ever enter the door or attend an event or meeting. Increasingly, donors are comfortable giving online and expect to have that option available for their charitable giving.

Social networks are a dynamic means of communication and being virtually connected with people around the world. Popular social networks and media include Facebook,Twitter, blogs and microblogs, content curation, geolocation, online communities, and media sharing. Technological developments are happening quickly, and nonprofit, religious and charitable organizations must be alert to the new trends if they want to be perceived as current and relevant. For example, it is more important than ever for organizations to invest in making their website content adaptable for mobile technology.

Many nonprofit, religious, and charitable organizations have joined the movement, finding the new social media options easy and inexpensive to set up and use for communicating with their existing and prospective constituents. Most social media offer tools for measuring Myriad opportunities and benefits are present for organization actively using social media for networking:

Information sharing—education & training

  • Fundraising–donor prospect research & online giving
  • Opinion gathering & research
  • Brand marketing & publicity
  • Employment search
  • Advocacy & leadership
  • Community building & event participation

inter-connectedness hands around the world

As good as social networking sounds, it is vital that the organization begin at a manageable level for the staff or volunteers involved. The development of the networks can be tracked with the specialized features that measure and track activity. Communicating and networking via social media takes time, forethought, and planning for the organization to maximize the benefits. It is worthwhile for leaders to discuss the use of social media, seeking input from other staff, volunteers, and constituents. There must be commitment on the part of organizational leaders. Policies for engaging and training staff to effectively use social media to advance the organization and advance its mission in the world.

Social networking offers an expansive and exciting landscape of opportunity. Most professional fundraisers report using Facebook, Linked In, and other social networking venues to learn more about donors and their charitable and political giving patterns. Online surveys provide a means for interacting and inviting valuable feedback.  Tracking social networking sites enables organizations to observe behaviors and trends in new and different ways.

Crowd-sourcing and Cause-related Marketing are becoming increasingly popular and are a creative means of promoting individual causes and advancing the missions of organizations. Millions of dollars are raised each year through social media and online giving, whether it be through project funding, online contests, or auctions.

fundraise online

The possibilities are seemingly endless!

Online Fundraising Venues:

Ammado Foundation offers a means for giving to causes internationally.

CrowdRise is a free fundraising site that encourages its users to create a fundraiser, publicize it, and have fun in the process.

HopeMob’s vision is to “become the largest, most active, effective, innovative community of generosity in the world.”

Network for Good envisions a “world where generosity is unleashed, with compelling opportunities to give back at every person’s fingertips.” The site offers organizations and individuals opportunities to give to charitable causes from its website and a wide array of partner sites.

Research and Information about Online Giving: Cause-Related Marketing: What You Need to Know.

Charity Navigator. Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors.

*Wealth Engine. Trends in Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations white paper. 2012. Fundraising’s Social Revolution: How Social Media is Changing Nonprofit Culture and Practice.