It’s not unusual for someone to come up and ask me, “How do I teach my children to be generous?” It’s a great question. I’ve found with my own kids what I think is a powerful way to teach generosity in a way that makes it stick.
Here’s a quick story. When my son was at college, I took a Saturday to go and visit him. It was just a 2-hour drive and I could pop over, have lunch with him and look him in the eyes to see how he was doing.
On one of those occasions, he was feeling a little poorly. A head cold had him all stuffed up, and he needed some medicine. On my departure, I gave him a $20 bill and told him to go get some medicine.
A few days later in a phone call I asked him if he’d ever got the medicine. “No,” he told me. He explained that he’d been at the coffee shop and he felt God nudge him to go and give away some money to some fellow college students whom he thought could use the dollars.
And that’s what I’ve always found with my son in particular. If presented with the choice to give to an organization or to give directly to an individual in need, he’ll always pick the individual in need. I think that’s true for all of us.
If we can give to a direct need, it makes more of an impact on us. It makes the giving more tangible to know that we’ve made the difference sometimes between someone paying the rent or going hungry.
Indeed, I encourage families to find ways to give to individuals in need. It may be the neighbor down the street that has cancer, or it may be the widow who needs help with repairs. It could be the single mom who needs work on her car. Many of these direct gifts may be gifts of time.
But for monetary gifts, an easy way to make a gift is through a ministry called Helping Hands. Helping Hands is a 501(c)(3) that has approval from the IRS to make grants to needy individuals. Helping Hands does the vetting to make sure there is true need.
The gift is made to Helping Hands and then a gift may be made directly to that individual. Gifts to the individual can be anonymous as well. It’s a powerful tool to teach generosity and to have generosity stick.
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Published December 7, 2018