Giving money is one of the most powerful and direct ways to make an impact on what you find important.
How this applies to cubicleMonks:
Most of our life energy goes to our jobs. This often leaves us feeling disconnected from what is important. When I hear about the suffering in the world, I often feel sad that I’m not doing my part in helping out. Sitting in a cubicle hacking away can feel selfish when I hear about homelessness or starvation or the environmental destruction that is going on in the world.
Giving money is an accessible and impactful way to be a part of the solution. Knowing the money I earn can go to a good cause is rewarding. It can be a very simple action of clicking some buttons and entering a credit card and BOOM I get a hit of pleasure. It feels very good and I enjoy this feeling even if it is temporary. Giving away money does give me additional motivation for making money in my day job.
Giving money can get very complicated. I would say even more complicated than investing. There is no way to know if the money actually did good. Unfortunately, some charities and nonprofits can do more harm than good. There is corruption but that doesn’t stop my giving.
Investigation into where the money actually goes is an opportunity to dive in deeper and become more connected to the organization. There are many aspects to explore in giving. One is to look for organizations where most of the money goes into the action and not to administration. But on the other hand, it might be better if the organization attracted top executive talent and thus would have higher administrative costs. It is important to know the organization is providing results, but collecting data can add more overhead. Big organizations can create big change but small organizations can address very focused and targeted missions. Local organizations have appeal but so can international. Taking all of this into consideration, it is important to do the right amount of research but not to let it prevent making the actual gift.
Another intellectual exercise I find beneficial is to look at the tangible skills I have and how they might meet what is needed for a given issue. For example, I could go cook soup for the hungry and this would be honorable and fulfilling. But an argument could be made that more mouths would be fed if I were to give away more money earned from using my talents in a cubicle. I will admit this argument is not fully sound and does come with a judgement and privilege but I acknowledge it because there is truth. It’s not about my time having more value but instead an acknowledgement that other people have more knowledge and experience than I do for the given solution. Me giving money is about trusting others can better solve the problem.
There is also an important place in my life for volunteering but my hands can’t do some tasks. I believe giving money is the best way for me to participate in a lot of the good work I know needs done.
There is beautiful and necessary work that only happens because of donations. Giving money is also an important piece of my identity of being a cubicleMonk. Because of this, I find value in making the giving a “ceremony.” Our family enjoys the time we spend researching and sending money to where we can make an impact. Thus, “Give Big Tuesday” could be considered a cubicleMonk holiday.
Since I started making money, I have given away 10%. This was a learned tradition from my childhood that stuck.
This generosity has given a lot back. I have made many friendships and had beautiful experiences through giving. I made a connection with a colleague over a shared interest in giving money to Heifer International. This connection led to opportunities at my job that helped further my career. We gave money to the Nature Conservancy and that gave us an opportunity to harvest our own “Christmas Tree” that helped save a dying meadow.
Above I wrote about a lot of the intellectual activity that I put into giving. I really do look at it like investing. We give to well established organisations. We take risks and give to smaller organizations that are meeting specific work that we find important. Similar to investing, having diversity in the giving helps me address the complicated concerns above. Market timing is another similarity to investing. We target some of our giving to what is going on in the world and our lives. We have been known to give as a direct result of an election or something personal in our lives like an illness of a friend.
But more important than all of the intellectual work around giving money, giving from the heart is what works best for me. Feeling good in my heart is my best indicator.
The last important piece for me is to then let go of what actually happens with the money. After the money is given, I have no control. It may or may not actually do what was intended. If I later think it was misspent, that is just data for my next giving opportunity.
I also have a playful perspective on giving. I have been blessed with much financial bounty and while not a superstitious person, I like to imagine it is directly connected with giving away money. The more I give, the more I get back. This formula has worked so far and so I won’t stop now.
We are looking forward to sitting down as a family on Tuesday and looking for people doing good work on the issues that we most care about and giving them some money.
Go to https://www.givingtuesday.org/ and find organizations doing good work on the issues you most care about.