Chanukkah has passed. Kwanza, Christmas and New Year’s holidays are fast approaching. I find myself becoming more and more introspective as I purchase, make and wrap each gift. I remember a Christmas 18 years ago when I was alone in San Francisco and volunteered at a shelter for teenage moms. All of them were under 18. The shelter did its best to give these mothers a chance to celebrate their own childhood by opening gifts before they shared a gift exchange with their own infant children. It is hard to believe those infants are now 18. I cannot help but wonder who they are and where they are, and if they have love and shelter in their lives.
I count my blessings daily as I gather receipts, make lists of expenses and prepare my folders for tax season. I think about all the generosity of friends, family, colleagues and strangers. I take inventory of my own contributions and short-comings in every aspect of my life. It is indeed a wonder-filled time of year as children remind us of the magic of generosity, and our own consciences remind us it is the generosity of spirit that truly matters.
Many people identify organizations to make charitable donations to this time of year. Others have done their diligence months, and years, in advance. Whether charitable giving is an effort to offset taxes or is purely an act of goodwill, the act of giving time, goods and money is positively about helping to make someone else’s circumstance better.
Whether time, goods or money, there are places on our tax forms to tally these kinds of donations. However, there are effective ways of giving that are often over-looked, taken for granted, and are not tax deductible. Consider the distributions of advancement such as becoming a mentor to somebody or providing professional counsel through networking. These are acts of generosity that make a site like Millionaire Girls Movement not only effective but absolutely possible. In fact, this is how many women network and advance their own, and each other’s, careers: through the exchange of information and networking. Women build professional and social strategic alliances not just in the work place but also in social, interest-based areas of their lives.
Not everyone realizes what they are doing but when we take the time to introduce one person to another, we are facilitating the development of a community that can affect and impact the well-being of many, not just the people being introduced. Truly, not everyone has the ability to make a cash or time donation to a charity of choice but everyone has the ability to share their experience as a resource that can ultimately benefit many people.
As the year comes to a close, take the time to consider what you might be able to share from your professional or personal experience that could fortify, inspire, educate and encourage another – if not to a charitable organization, then to a friend or a friend-of-a-friend in need. It is true, money is a powerful form of currency that can affect immediate change but education can never be taken away nor discredited.
If you have that to offer, celebrate it and share the wealth. While sharing an experience or providing professional guidance might not be free of charge or tax-deductible, the immediate and residual benefits are absolutely priceless. The preservation and propagation of financial stability begins with practical skills and experience. A generous spirit knows there are no limits to what we can learn and earn, and that indeed is wonderful.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
but are often what more people practice on a daily, professional level.