I’ve come a long way in regards to my stance on giving over the last few years. Girl Ninja has a generous heart, I have a frugal one. She frequently reminds me there are only four things we can do with money.

  1. Make it.
  2. Spend it.
  3. Save/Invest it.
  4. Give it.

It’s the fourth point I want to focus on today.

While we have always given a portion of our income to our church, we are really excited about the other ways in which we can start to give back. About a year ago, we instituted the following household rule “Ask and you shall receive.” This does, of course, have some caveats. If you say “Hey Ninja, can I have $10 to buy a pack of smokes?” I will punch you in the face. But if you say, “Hey Ninja I’m raising money to build a well in Africa, can you spare some change?”, I will gladly open my wallet. The other caveat is that “asking” must be intentional. A general “give me money” request emailed out to your entire Facebook contact list wont cut it. A phone call, text message, personalized email, or face-to-face meeting is what it takes.

In the last year, Girl Ninja and I have been specifically asked to… help build a well in Africa, support a friend going on staff with Campus Crusades, donate to Young Life, buy a magazine subscription from our landlord’s kid to help raise money for his school, and support Krochet Kids International. (The magazine subscription was only $24, so it’s not like we are always dropping big bucks.) We don’t take our income for granted and we make our best efforts to give back whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Moving on.

Have you ever hosted a party? That crap can get expensive real quick. In fact, upon closer look at our astronomical food budget last month, I’ve realized a good portion of this expense was used serving other people. Girl Ninja and I are both heavily involved in a high school outreach program called YoungLife. I lead freshmen boys, she leads freshmen girls. That means every week we have about 30 kids coming to our house for Bible study. We’ve recently learned the quickest way to a kids heart is through their mouth. Nothing says “welcome” like fresh-baked cookies, a few pizzas, or some candy. Our grocery budget has never been higher, but ya know what? I’m totally cool with it.

But what if you aren’t in a position to be able to help financially? That’s totally fine. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You can give your blood, your time, or your talents. Don’t make “giving” a strictly financial practice.

I helped coach boys Varsity tennis this last season and it was by far one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

Many charities also accept large items as donations, allowing you to give even if you do not have the direct financial means to do so. We all have old items that we no longer use and these are the perfect thing to give to charity because it is unlikely that we will miss them. A good example of something that you can donate is an old boat. While you might be unclear on how to donate a boat, the process is actually very simple. All you have to do is contact a charity that accepts boat donations and they will make the necessary arrangements.

You have something to offer. Go offer it.

So reader, why don’t you take a second to share in the comments below ways in which you have given. What charities or organizations have you supported? How do you decide who to support and who to ignore? Have you volunteered your time or talents lately?

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