Give First

One of the earliest Jewish teachings was about giving. The Jews were instructed to give 10% of what they had to the priests as an offering to God. It wasn’t the last 10%, or 10% from somewhere in the middle, it was the very first 10%, or first fruits to be set aside from their latest crop or produce they had harvested.

Religious doctrine aside, this is a great practical process, because it ensures that whatever happens, you are generous first before consuming what is left over. If you were to wait and see what was left after you had used up all that you needed, there wouldn’t be anything left to give away. Generally, people will spend and use what is available to them.

This is one thing that I struggle to do but it is one of the best disciplines to have. Being intentional about giving means knowing how much you want to give away, and to whom, then putting that amount aside before it gets used on other things.

Give first, then live. It will help keep your priorities straight and loosen the grip that the love of money can have on you.

Which One?

I recently saw a list of those who make significant political donations and I was a little surprised that there were a number who gave to both major parties in Australia. I guess it makes sense if you are looking to hedge your bets, so you don’t back the wrong horse, but it reminded me of how most people give money to charity.

It is very rare to come across someone who donates to only one charity. Instead, I often hear that people give to a few different ones, sometimes to two that are working in a similar space because, whilst they may be different organisations with slightly different approaches, the supporter likes them both. So why not?

It’s a portfolio style of giving, where you choose a selection of charities to support across a few different areas. Some will be similar, others will be doing something completely different so that you can diversify your portfolio. Over time you become more engaged and connected with the charities you support which leads to greater fulfilment in your giving, as you learn more about the difference that your generosity is having.

When You Win

Why does it seem that those with money seem to attract more money? Is it something supernatural, are they using “the Secret” or are they just very smart with handling their money already, so that when they get more it adds to what they already have?

There is a long list of people who have won the lottery and changed their financial lives dramatically, only to spend it all and end up back where they started from a few years later.

It makes sense when you think about it, because money doesn’t change you, it just makes you more of who you already are. How you are today will be how you are tomorrow regardless of what material changes happen for you.

If you are greedy already, if you are stingy already, if you are generous already, then getting a lump sum of money will only make you more of that thing. Once you get a lump sum of money it is too late to become something else. You may be able to fool yourself and others for a bit, and act generously temporarily but that will fade and your true nature will come out. The work needs to happen before you get it.

So, if you are waiting until you win the lottery to learn how to be generous you are fooling yourself and setting yourself up for a long and lonely life of being stingy.

Don’t wait. Do the work now and start your journey of generosity.

Why I Hate Economics

It’s more than a class that I barely passed in high school with a teacher who was as boring as a brown sweater vest. My problem with it is economists seem to think people behave rationally, without emotion. Models, legislature, and entire countries are based on that theory.

Take inflation for example. One of its main drivers is the fear that people have about inflation, who then behave in a manner that drives up inflation. Stick with me here –

The fear of rising prices causes people to buy more items now, because the price will rise in the next few weeks or months. This pushes up demand for the products, which then become more expensive because there are less products around, and scarcity creates a willingness for people to pay higher prices – causing inflation. Emotional.

Also, I have an issue with the simple construct of supply and demand. It suggests that if you can make a cheaper version of an existing product, then people will rationally buy the cheaper product, because why would you pay more money for something when you can get it cheaper elsewhere? This completely misses the connection that some have with certain brands, for which they are willing to pay more money, even though the product is the same. Emotional. We all have those traits. We all pay more money for something than we have to, because of an affiliation with a brand, or some other emotional connection.

You see, economics is filled with simple models and diagrams explaining one of the most complicated elements of our world, the market. Many are happy to rely on the market to fix all of society’s problems. As if the market is an all knowing, all powerful and altogether good being which, if left to its own devices, will take care of us all. But it is just a thing. It’s a system that we created and use for our own benefit, and hopefully the benefit of others. As with anything, it’s the users which dictate how much good or ill comes from a system. And it’s the emotions which drive the users’ decisions. So, it’s emotion which rules our market, not logic.

Or as Seth Godin puts it,

“We like to think we make complicated decisions based on rational analysis, but most of the time, we actually make an emotional decision and then invent a rational analysis to justify it.”

Mostly though, it’s the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any space for generosity within economics. It doesn’t appear to be logical, or good business, or benefit the market at all – but it is and does all those things. There just isn’t a simple diagram for it.

I’m Not Asking for Your Money

I work for a charity and meet with people who donate significant amounts, but I don’t ask them to give money.

I used to do that, and it felt wrong. I felt like I was apologising every time I wanted to meet with them and that they thought I only wanted something from them…which was kind of true – their money.

I got tired of that feeling and of asking people to give money, so I decided to try something else.

Instead of asking people to give, I now invite people to fulfil their purpose through generosity. By giving money to Opportunity, an organisation that they are passionate about, our supporters are finding a way to fulfil their purpose.

They are bringing dignity to those living in poverty.

They are giving back some of what they have received.

They are living out their values.

They are showing care and concern for their fellow human beings.

They are releasing the hold that money can have on those who have it.

They are being generous and reaping the rewards that generosity bring.

So I don’t ask for money. I offer a pathway to purpose.

One in a Million

‘You are one in a million’ is not as good as it sounds. It’s definitely not as good as it used to be.

It means that there are 7,600 more of you around the world, which doesn’t make you feel as unique. It is possible to meet them.

‘You are one in a billion’ sounds better.

Although that still means there are 7 of you out there.

One in 7.6 billion is the best, although it’s a bit clunky and not as easy to say.

This is one of the downsides to population growth.  

The global population in 1700 was about 600 million people.

By 1800 it had reached around 1 billion.

It had reached 1.6 billion by 1900, 2 billion by 1928, 5 billion by 1987 and 7.9 billion in 2021.

Since 1800 the global population has increased by 700%.

People used to freak out about this and worry about our impending doom as the sheer amount of people would surely overrun the planet, use everything and bring about the end of the world.

Why is no one worried about this now?

Because we have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. When that happens, families have less children because they can be confident that they will survive, they no longer need to think about who will look after them when they get older, and they become more educated about contraception. People’s generosity did this.

At this stage the global population should plateau at around 11 billion in 2100. Crisis just about averted.

Now, on to climate change.

Always Poor

“The poor you will always have with you” – Jesus

Jesus was talking to a room full of people after someone used an expensive item in an extravagant act of gratitude towards him. Some in the room criticised this act, and in their moral superiority suggested a better use of this gift would be to sell it and give the money to the poor. Jesus essentially said, “if God is in your living room, then shower Him with your best. Spend up big on him because it probably won’t happen again. Tomorrow, when God is no longer in your living room, give generously to those who are living in poverty.”

What we think it means…

We take this interaction and think that it means that we don’t need to worry about trying to end poverty, because you can’t. It’s a fool’s errand. People will always be poor; it’s just how thing are. Give up now and save yourself some heartache.

What it actually means…

Aside from the main point of giving your best to God if He is literally sitting right in front of you, Jesus was talking about situational poverty, which is a transitional time that people go through. Life has all sorts of ups and downs and sometimes the downs can put you into a place of poverty for a season, which is when you require generosity from others. Situational poverty is a short term experience.

This is stark contrast to systemic poverty, which is generational in nature and ensures that those who are poor today will also be poor tomorrow – you know, the kind if extreme poverty we see in the world today. Systemic poverty is man-made and exists in the structures we have put into place which, among other things, ensure that those who are vulnerable are the ones that earn less, suffer greater life shocks, and end up living without what they need to flourish. It doesn’t matter what they do, the system is stacked against them and they are unable to work their way out of it. Most are born into it, and some fall into it, but it doesn’t matter how it happened, it doesn’t need to exist and we can end it.

Poverty will always exist, people will fall into poverty through challenging life circumstances, but to think it will always be the same group of people, and their family for generations to come, or that some people should live their entire lives in poverty because of where they were born, is arrogant, ignorant, and wrong.

Fortunately, we have been making some pretty great headway with some smart structures and a bunch of generous people. We know that systemic poverty doesn’t need to exist and that we can end it, one family and one community at a time. We can’t do it without you though.

Donate here

Fade

I am amazed by the sheer amount of people that are alive in this moment. Over 7.9 billion people is impossible to imagine. It is extraordinary, and overwhelming and humbling.

Out of that 7.9 billion, how many people will know me? Dunbar’s number suggests that we don’t really have the capacity to have more than 150 meaningful relationships.

Out of that 150, how many will really do life with me? Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.

So, not many.

How many will remember me?

Of the people who lived 100 years ago, (about 2 billion of them), I have heard of, maybe, a handful. A dozen at most, and probably the same names that you may know. The rest of them, well they might have influenced how I live but I don’t know their names or their story.

So, logic would suggest that in 100 years no one will remember me, and no one will remember you. (Sorry).

I will fade.

That’s okay.

However, what I do will have a lasting effect. Every act will create an impact.

Specifically, generous acts multiply. They grow over time as they encourage others to be generous and create ripple effects to people that you will never know in places that you will never travel to. Generosity will not fade. It will last forever.

Leave a legacy. Be generous.

Spend Elon’s Money

One of my favourite TV show memories was Supermarket Sweep. I was pretty young when watching it, but what I remember is that contestants got a short period of time to run around a supermarket with a trolley, grabbing as much stuff as they could and the winner was the person who had the highest value in their trolley.

I remember getting stressed out just watching it, but the idea of spending someone else’s money to get free stuff seemed like the coolest thing in my mind.

I came across a similar concept recently. Call it the most extreme supermarket sweep ever. A website where you have 30 seconds to spend as much as possible on selected items, in an attempt to use up all the allocated money. The twist is that the total figure is the net worth of Elon Musk. $166 Billion of it. Check it out here – https://www.leasingoptions.co.uk/spend-elons-money/index.html

It stresses me out as I run out of time trying to buy all the stuff with all the money. One time I spent over $17 Billion which is quite impressive in 30 seconds, but that was mostly because I bought 345 Falcon 9 Launches at $50 million a piece, which still left Elon with over $145 Billion. I think if I had longer than half a minute I could make more of a dent in the phenomenal net worth that he has, but I doubt I could spend it all in my lifetime.

What could you possibly do with that much money? What is the point of that much wealth?

We know that happiness does not increase after you earn a certain level of income, in Australia that’s about $175,000pa (we are one of the most expensive countries in the world for happiness). Without earning another cent, Elon could be happy for 948,571 years.

Don’t get me started on Jeff Bezos.

Those Billionaires will have some questions to answer about what they have done with what they have been given.

Then I turn around.

And I look at everyone in the world who earns less than I do.

All 97% of them.

Looking at me, thinking that about what I could possibly do with all that money. What is the point of so much wealth? And that I will have some questions to answer about what I have done with what I have been given.