Charitable Giving: Give in Order to Receive

Photo: krislitman

The idea of giving away what you have especially if you don't have much is a tough one to wrap your head around. But if you truly want to be rich (both literally and figuratively), getting into the frame of mind of giving is a step in the right direction.

When I joined Rotary, I wasn't sure just how much time I could dedicate to the club's charitable fundraising and related activities. I had a business to run, an active social life, and many extra-curricular activities to round out my 16 hour days.

But it was only after I started to give freely of my time and money towards worthy causes that my life became enriched in ways I couldn't have predicted:

  • My business doubled in size in one year, completely independent of the people I was interacting with.
  • I met like-minded people with whom I still share extremely strong bonds.
  • I found new income-producing opportunities.
  • I received tax breaks for my charitable contributions.
  • I adopted a number of charitable projects separate from Rotary, which enriched my life and career in amazing ways.

Call it karma, call it good vibes, or anything else that fits the bill; when I gave of myself (be it time or money) without expectation of getting anything in return, I always received ten times the benefit.

A friend of mine who is quite wealthy said he wakes up every morning, and is thankful for all that he has. He feels blessed, and asks with cupped hands for continued blessings. Then throughout the day, he gives away all he has that he doesn't need. I have seen his generosity in action, and he doesn't do it with any ulterior motives. He believes that if he gives away what he has, he will always be able to be thankful with cupped hands and will receive what he needs. So far, it has worked for him!

I will note that he doesn't do anything financially irresponsible in his benevolence, putting himself in a fiscally risky position (he ensures he and his family is well-provided for). He just gives with unparalleled generosity and is always rewarded in amazing ways.

You don't even have to limit your giving mentality to charitable causes; just being in a generous frame of mind and helping others for the sake of helping can bring back amazing results. The next time a friend needs help moving, consider dedicating your afternoon to the cause instead of coming up with an excuse as to why you can't go.

In Suze Orman's 9 Steps To Financial Freedom, one of the steps is all about giving, and the psychological benefits of releasing an iron-clad grasp on your money.

Where Does All My Money Go has a fabulous post on employer-matching programs. This is a great way to double any charitable contributions you make, and help to make a real difference. For the little bit of extra effort involved in filling out a few forms, you can double the impact of your contribution and cause.

So just when you thought you couldn't afford to give any money away, I urge you to reconsider. You may find that you'll receive way more than you ever give.

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Guest's picture


I couldn't agree more. Charitable giving is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of wealth.

Sure, it's all about personal finance is all about creating personal freedom in the beginning, but with enough persistence and diligence, you eventually have enough money to buy anything you want and don't have to worry about your bills anymore.

Then the question becomes, "Now what?"

For me, the only answer is contribution, both in the form of knowledge (my blog) and in the form of dollars (my gifts). I want to do something that has a lasting, positive impact on the world and helps others at the same time.

It's been one of the most enjoyable parts of my life by far. To see that you are making a difference and to see the gratitude in people's eyes... my god, it feels good.

Thanks for posting about it. I don't think we can ever hear this message enough.


Guest's picture

Last week one of the bloggers talked about values and gave some examples of things that might have been conflicting values. But charitable giving is where values really come into play. We are making major changes in our household to tackle some $30,000 in debt and to increase our savings. We're becoming a one car family, cutting our food budget in half, and taking many other steps to cut costs. What we aren't cutting is our charitable giving. We are blessed - even when we're struggling, we're blessed. Our charitable giving is our investment in our neighbors and our hope for the future.

Guest's picture

When you give to someone without any expectation of receiving anything back, often you are giving far more than money or a material good. Perhaps you are giving the person hope, faith that things work out, or an example of the joy of giving. That's worth far more than buying a new purse any day. Thanks for this post.

Guest's picture

excellent post. it is very rewarding to seek out charities, causes, and activities that help the community in which you live and work.

one of the biggest joys of money and time is being able to use them to help.

Nora Dunn's picture

Thank you for all the good vibes! I (obviously) share your passions for giving.

That is part of the reason I am travelling the world - I am willing and able to find as many causes as I can to contibute towards. And in doing so I am happier than I have ever been, money or not!

Guest's picture

My new year's resolution for 2007 was to actually contribute to charity rather than wish I had. I to have found it incredibly rewarding and also a really good conversation starter.

I structured it so that I had different types of organizations to give to and make a monthly contribution. This way I have a plan as to which causes I would like to contribute to and can really spread it around.

I even have a spreadsheet to track it all.

Guest's picture

Wonderful post. The other great benefit of the "giving thing" is that you meet the best people by being involved. Your relationship wealth soars!

Guest's picture

Wealth is not merely measured by money. Honestly, I'm a great believer of karma or whatever term people wish to give it. When you give with all your heart, even if you don't have much, you will find that your good deeds have a strange way of getting back to you. Maybe it's God's way of taking care of you or something. Besides, there's nothing like the feeling of having helped someone.

Amy B. Scher's picture

I've lived it. Ten years ago, I donated my eggs to an infertile couple and now when I need it most, the gift of life is coming back to me, halfway around the world. I'm leaving in December to get embryonic stem cell treatments in India. The infertility doctor there is patenting her technology where she is able to create stem lines for all patients from one donated embryo. It's truly amazing.

I never imagined from my giving would come this new chance for life.

Something little I always do is put an extra coin or two in the parking meter when I park, so there is always time left over for the next person. And, there have been very few times since I started that, where I don't drive up to one and there is still time on it!

It's the law of attraction!

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

I do the parking meter thing too, Amy! Thank you for sharing about your treatments too - all our thoughts will be with you. 

Another tip that can change somebody's day is this: when you're in the drive-thru buying a cup of java, consider paying for the person behind you. The idea is when they get to the window, their coffee is already paid for, and hopefuly they'll pay it forward and pay for the next person too! If not, at least you made their day.

Amy B. Scher's picture

I'll be blogging about it on if you want to check it out. It's just in the works now but you can read a little more of my story there.

Great idea about the drive-thru coffee!

Guest's picture

Hi Nora,


I found your post while researching an article I wrote on charitable giving titled Charitable Giving:  When Is It Wrong?.  Much of what you and your commenters said here inspired me to look inward at my motives for giving, something I had not planned on doing at the outset of this writing project.


I took the liberty of linking to your post from my article, because I think anyone who is examining their reasons for giving will be inpired by what they read here.


Best wishes in your continuing travels, Sally