Five Steps to a More Generous Family


Generous people tend to be happy, healthy and financially prosperous—all good reasons to teach your children to be givers.

We've probably all heard that "it's more blessed to give than to receive." Well, now there's proof. The book, Who Really Cares by academic Arthur C. Brooks, cites several recent studies that seem to back up this notion. Brooks draws the conclusion that, "charitable people are more likely than uncharitable people to be happy, healthy and financially prosperous."

Aside from these considerations, there are always the more obvious reasons to be generous—caring for the less fortunate and making the world a better place.

With these myriad benefits in mind, the following are some steps toward becoming a more giving family:

  1. Discuss how your family ranks in its generosity – In The Chronicle of Philanthropy's latest report on charitable giving, they offer a useful tool to find data on American giving. Are you where you want to be? If not, discuss how you can be more giving.
  2. Start small when you want to be more generous – If you're looking for a place to start in your charitable giving, you don't have to break the bank. Some families choose a percentage of income and give that amount away every year to trusted charities, trying to increase that amount by a little bit each year.
  3. See your community with open eyes – In Jan Johnson's book Growing Compassionate Kids, she encourages families to look for ways to be generous in "life's normal moments." One tip she offers is to keep a "basic bag" in your car to hand out to someone in need. It can include things like a toothbrush, soap, a comb, or washcloth. You will be helping out someone who needs a hand, and modeling something beautiful for your children.
  4. Realize that being generous is not just about giving money – In Dave Toycen's book, The Power of Generosity, he encourages those on the path to becoming more generous to think about their talents and skills. Sharing what you have means more than money. What skills do you bring to the generosity table? How can you help a neighbor or community group with your gifts of time and talent?
  5. Don't feel you have to reinvent the generosity wheel – Lots of organizations, churches, and schools offer ways to practice being a generous family without having to come up with a never-before-done idea.


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