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Mondays, mornings, and new school years . . .

I know that I’m not completely normal, and I’m okay with that. I love Mondays and mornings. I love making New Year’s resolutions and quarterly goals. I also love new school years . . . not just as a parent, but even as a kid. For me, each of these situations represents a new beginning. It’s like a reset button of sorts. It’s a time when the past is past, and the only thing that matters is how I want to change the future with the decisions I make now.

I think that all of us can get trapped in the past. “I’ve always done it this way,” or “I don’t know how to do otherwise.” Instead, what if we look for those natural inflection points where we can write a new story, where we can create a new future?

I think that the same can hold true for our charitable giving. We all sometimes feel stuck supporting the same organizations over and over again, without pausing to reflect on whether our circumstances or our priorities have changed. Whether the organization has changed.

At the start of this new school year, what if we all take this new beginning as a generosity reset of sorts? What if we take a little time to reflect on our charitable giving in light of our current circumstances and our current giving priorities?

Here are three ways that a new beginning can inspire us to reset and enhance our generosity strategies.

Reflecting on Priorities
A new beginning can prompt us to take time for introspection and reevaluation. Have you done a generosity audit lately? To do a generosity audit, simply write down every charitable gift you made this past year. Every one, no matter how small. Then, identify how each gift fits within the following motivations:

  • Charity – I see a need, I meet a need
  • Responsive giving – I give because I was asked by a friend or family member
    or because I have a relationship with the organization (e.g. church or alma mater)
  • Strategic generosity – I give to support a particular cause or organization where
    I want to leave my mark on the world; this is the legacy I’m creating

For most people, this simple generosity audit is eye-opening. Most don’t realize how much their charitable giving reflects the needs and priorities of others rather than their own strategic generosity objectives.

The first step in making a change is recognizing where we currently stand. By thoughtfully reflecting on our generosity priorities and how our current giving aligns, we can create a more meaningful impact that is important to us and to the community around us.

Adapting to Change
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying that the only constant is change. I think we can all agree that this has never been more true than today. In our fast-paced world, sometimes we crave stability and calm. That craving can sometimes limit us from embracing changes that may be in our own best interest. During periods of transition, we can be introduced to unfamiliar circumstances and people. Instead of bristling against the unfamiliar, we can embrace the opportunity to extend our generosity beyond our comfort zones. Who knows but that this new experience may be life-changing for us and may capture our heart and our attention for years to come? At a minimum, we will develop more flexibility and more empathy that will serve us well, far beyond our generosity.

Fostering Connection
A new beginning can serve as a bridge between our past and our future. It can enable us to forge new connections, even while maintaining existing ones. By approaching all of our relationships – including the relationships with the organizations we support – with intentionality, we will be stronger as a result.

So, I challenge you to approach the new beginnings in your life – whether a new school year, a new week, or a new day – with optimism, with energy, and with hope. Embrace the opportunity to keep the good, discard the bad, and chart your way to a more intentional and more generous future.

How are you writing your story? Your generosity is an important theme that runs through the story of your life. It’s never too late to rewrite your story. Begin today.