Resolving to Be More Generous in the New Year - Baylor Philanthropy Expert Offers Four Ways to Develop Spirit of GenerosityDecember 20, 20183 min read
Many Americans already have enough “stuff,” and the gift-giving season sometimes adds to that collection of things we really don’t need. Instead of always receiving, how can we resolve to be more generous in the New Year?
“Whatever our station, however much money or resources we have, we all have something to share and something to give,” says Andy Hogue, Ph.D., senior lecturer in Baylor’s Honors College who teaches a course on philanthropy and the public good. “I like the idea of thinking in terms of a New Year’s resolution, sort of resolving to be more generous and helping people to think in those ways.”
Hogue offers four ways individuals and families can develop a spirit of generosity in the New Year.
1) Generosity starts with gratitude. “That is the very first step, just being grateful for what we have, but also realizing that to those given much, much is expected, and to begin thinking about not possessing things but stewarding things,” Hogue said. “Think of the many things we have that might benefit others, whether that is our time, our talents or our finances. There are so many things that we have at our disposal to be able to enrich communities and to help other people. Being able to think in those ways leads us down the path toward generosity and toward sharing.”
2) Generosity is more than just a transaction. “Think of philanthropy, generosity and giving as more than writing a check. Think of it as something that can be transformative and realize that there is no such thing as an unhappy generous person. It’s difficult to be unhappy when we are giving of ourselves.”
3) Generosity is a muscle you have to exercise. “If we can’t give of ourselves when we have limited means, what makes us expect that we would do it when we have more means?” Hogue said. “We all, in some way, are privileged and blessed and have resources that can be put to use for the benefit of someone else.”
4) Generosity can be creative. There are inspired ways to give birthday or Christmas gifts in honor of a family member or friend that bring about a beautiful thing Hogue likes to call the “philanthropy of collaboration.”
“Imagine the many things that come together in this one simple act: you, the giver, are enriched by the series of events you set into motion while the person you honor with the gift appreciates your generosity and imagination. The beneficiary of the gift then takes your offering to enrich the lives of others,” Hogue said. It is, however, important to take cues from the person you honor and give a gift in support of the causes they hold dear.
“You can go the traditional route – make a donation and give the person a piece of paper (acknowledging the gift) – or there are amazing web-based resources that can help people make very impactful gifts even with limited amounts,” Hogue said. “You give five dollars and with the magic of the Internet, the gift can go towards fighting disease in Africa, providing books for teacher’s classroom or buying someone in a poor country a goat or a cow or a pig that can be a source of generating income.”
Baylor is among 19 universities that participate in the Fort Worth-based Philanthropy Lab, a hands-on philanthropy education program that sparks and expands students’ interest and participation in philanthropy.
Since fall 2014, Hogue has taught a full-credit class of Baylor students, who have taken on a very tangible task: stewarding and giving away thousands of dollars – a total now more than $600,000 – in partnership with nonprofit organizations. Through this transformational undergraduate experience, Baylor students in the “Philanthropy and Public Good” class provide real funds for real needs in local, state and global communities while cultivating a philanthropic spirit and developing as innovative leaders poised for a lifetime of generosity.
Andy Hogue Director of the Philanthropy and Public Service Program
Andy Hogue, Ph.D., is director of the Philanthropy and Public Service Program and senior lecturer in the Baylor's Honors Program.