Practice generosity

Practice generosity

Feb 21
Angie Barnard, Illinois 4-H Foundation Executive Director

It is never too early to make a difference…practice generosity.

As the Executive Director of the Illinois 4-H Foundation, my primary responsibility is to raise money to support Illinois 4-H youth and the programs offered to them through the University of Illinois 4-H Youth Development Program. Trust me – when I’m out talking to people, it’s easy to create excitement about supporting this cause. But, so many people feel that if they can’t give a large amount, it isn’t worth supporting at all.

I enjoy having the conversation about making a difference to those efforts that you are passionate about and want to see improve by giving what you can. $1, $5, $10…just give what you can and together it makes a BIG difference. More importantly, get in the habit of giving. When you are out of school, think about things that have shaped you and say thank you by giving them $5. It may be your lunch money for one day, but heck you can pack a cold meat sandwich at home instead for one day!

There are very few people who don’t like the idea of generosity. Humans love to help others and confront needs when we see them. Unfortunately, there are also very few people who are content with the level of generosity in their lives. Most people I know wish they were able to give more. And while there are a number of reasons that this may be the case… sometimes the best solution may be the simplest.

  • Consider the benefits of generosity. Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. 
  • Embrace gratitude. Make a list of the things in your life for which you are grateful. 
  • Start really small. If you’ve never given away money, start by giving away $1. If you are embarrassed to give just $1, don’t be. Every amount makes a difference!
  • Give first. When you receive your next paycheck, make your first expense an act of giving. 
  • Divert one specific expense. For a set period of time (try 29 days), divert one specific expense to a charity of your choosing. All the money that was going to your coffee on Thursday mornings—set aside for a charity.
  • Fund a cause based on your passions. There are countless charities/causes that need your support. And some of them are directly in-line with your most compelling passions. What are you most passionate about?
  • Find a person you believe in. If you find that you are more easily motivated and shaped by the people in your life rather than organizations/causes, use that tendency as motivation instead. Discover who they support. Maybe you can join alongside them.
  • Spend time with people in need. One of the most effective antidotes for non-generosity is to make space in your life for those who actually need your help.
  • Spend time with a generous person. One of the most life-changing conversations I’ve ever had about generosity occurred when I found the courage to start asking specific questions of the right person. I remember starting with, “Have you always been generous?” 

Generosity rarely happens by chance. Instead, it is an intentional decision that we make in our lives. But it does not need to be as difficult as many people think. Sometimes, starting with the simple steps is the best step that we can take.

What simple steps have you incorporated into your life to foster generosity?

Blanket Buddies
Sadorus 4-H All Stars club members raised money and made 33 blankets for residents at a local assisted living facility. They have learned that spending time with people in need and supporting a cause based on their passions makes life more rewarding!