Sometimes giving can be difficult to talk about. I’m not referring to different types of giving like volunteering your time or donating food or other resources, I am talking specifically about money.
I have sat in church services, conferences and other meetings around Australia and when the conversation turns to giving money for one thing or another, there has been something within me which squirms. Sometimes I think that the internal squirming has actually manifested itself into physical squirming.
You see, the majority of the causes that get talked about and promoted, and even those that don’t, are great. So many people are doing amazing, commendable things but when confronted with them, I feel forced to make a split second decision of whether I should give them some money or not.
We’ve all walked through a shopping centre when suddenly we are confronted with a chirpy team of Personal Marketing Professionals (PMP’s) or what they are commonly called, ‘Chuggers’ (Charity Muggers). This is a tough one. On the one hand, I am just enjoying a wonderful day out at the shopping centre (if there is such a thing, mostly it is a time of survival as we try to navigate through the list of things that we need to get, and the things that we really should get, alongside the things that we don’t really need which become the only things that we actually get, bracketed by questionable coffee) and I don’t want to be interrupted and forced to think and care about something I just don’t have the headspace for.
On the other hand, can you blame them? Where else can you find hundreds and thousands of people just walking around looking to spend money? It should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But nobody says that anymore and I am sure that nobody has ever really done that, and so I question whether or not this method is effective at all (a topic for another time…).
So, again, there is awkwardness.
The ‘chuggers’ attempt to get my attention through what seems to be a ‘genuine’ concern for my wellbeing and questions around how I am going. Or a searching question about whether or not I dropped a certain item on the ground…no? Well now that I have stopped why don’t we have a deep conversation around saving the world one dollar at a time (I have seen that one in action…it’s about as effective as it sounds).
But I will not be tricked into a conversation. I will talk to you if I want to. As a result I have become quite adept at the walking, smiling, ‘no thank you’. Sometimes it has less smiling, sometimes it is more like a speed walk past the confrontation, or a run, but there is always a ‘no, thank you’. Or at the very least a ‘no’, or a look in my eyes that tells them that they shouldn’t dare contemplate engaging me in any sort of conversation. Then there can be times when I pretend to look the other way and not notice that there was someone there, blocking my path, calling out to me and waving in my face. It depends on the day.
Early on in my life I came across some wisdom that has helped me in decision making when it comes to money. It said, ‘if a decision is required immediately with no option to think about it, then the answer is no’.
I recoil at the language used around a ‘one time offer’, ‘you walk out this door and the deal goes with it’, or ‘you don’t want to miss this investment opportunity of a lifetime’. I guess that says a lot about me and my desire to not be swindled or talked in to something that I don’t really want to be part of, especially when it requires placing finances behind a decision.
I approach giving money to organisations with the same philosophy. For me, it’s an investment into an organisation so they can do something special with what I have given them.
So, as I sit listening to someone talk about giving, feeling awkward, I realise I feel that way because my immediate answer is no… and then I feel guilty it.
Guilty, because what kind of person says ‘no’ to organisations and people who are attempting to do wonderful things in this world. In my awkwardness and guilt I feel the eyes of all the other people around me. Their judgement of my questionable character overwhelms me.
At times, as a result of this feeling, I have given, in an attempt to appease the silent judgement of others. I hated that feeling. As a response to that hatred, I determined that I would only give based on when I decided to and not what I felt others would want me to do. To do that, I had to strip the whole thing back and look at why I wanted to give in the first place…and that’s where we go next.