27 votes

How do you try to be generous?

One of the qualities I appreciate the most in people is generosity, however I’ve come to realise that I am not particularly generous and I don’t think many people in my family are either.

I try my best to help people as much as I can at work, but I can’t say I’ve done much more than that.

I’d love to hear what you do to be generous.

30 comments

  1. [3]
    Pavouk106
    Link
    I don't give out money. Well not much, at least. I donated to Wikipedia and I donate to Tildes creator and I also donated some money to keep Spring RTS servers running (they would be without me,...

    I don't give out money. Well not much, at least. I donated to Wikipedia and I donate to Tildes creator and I also donated some money to keep Spring RTS servers running (they would be without me, but someone has to pay for them), but that's it.

    Well, I donate sometimes when some disaster strucks - we had a tornado in Czech Republic a few years ago (uncommon occurence here) that damaged a few villages and left many people without housing, some temporarily, some permanently. There were many fund-raisings and one major tool seller in nearby city made huge move in allowing people to buy things basically without markup and then load them onto the truck (not pickup, th big one) outside and let them transport it to those villages to be used by people there. I bought just a hammer, a level and I believe one more thing (can't remember), but those tools will outlive the disaster and I hope they are still used by someone today. People were buying everything there - from tape measures to wheelbarrows. Many people from all around the country took their vacation time and went there to help rebuild. Some before and after (rebuild) comparison photos here.

    I think I'm generous in non-touchable things more. I mean helping others with solving their problems, mainly PC and smartphone related. Or fixng things if I'm experienced enough to do so. Or on sites like Tildes where people might ask about something I know a lot about.

    My wife always says I'm too generous. Maybe I am, maybe it doesn't come back to me even at a fraction of what I do. But hey, that's me :-) Someone has to try to make the world better and not just talk about it, right? And for everyone reading the last sentence - try to make the world better yourselves! I'm sure there is some way you can!

    Let the King of pop (in the form of German gymnasium choir, great rendition if you ask me) be your inspiration

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      OBLIVIATER
      Link Parent
      I just don't know how people justify giving money out anymore (assuming they aren't very well off). There are so many goals in my life that are seemingly unattainable because of a lack of money....

      I just don't know how people justify giving money out anymore (assuming they aren't very well off). There are so many goals in my life that are seemingly unattainable because of a lack of money. Buying a home, starting a family, owning land, etc. These are things that I'm scraping and saving to one day be able to maybe afford, and I just can't justify to myself to delay them to help those who are less fortunate than me.

      I think your point about being generous with your time and knowledge is awesome though. I'm always happy to help out friends and family with technical issues or DIY stuff, its a lot of fun and is satisfying to me to accomplish things like that. Or just being a good listener when someone needs to vent!

      2 votes
      1. Pavouk106
        Link Parent
        The second part of your rely - I agree 100%, youw rote it well! The money part... We (family) own a house we pay mortgage on, we own two cars (6 and 18 years old), have two kids and I dare to say...

        The second part of your rely - I agree 100%, youw rote it well!

        The money part... We (family) own a house we pay mortgage on, we own two cars (6 and 18 years old), have two kids and I dare to say we live comfortably. This is why I'm willing to give out money when I consider them "well spent". On that note - Given how much time I spent on Wikipedia and knowledge I got from it, I donated 20$(€?) one time. It si much cheaper than buying ebcyclopedia book that even doesn't have that much knowledge and will definitely be more expensive. I also played the heck out od Spring RTS back in the day and since the game is open source and servers (I mean website, not game servers) are paid out of someone's pocket, I felt like repaying for the time I enjoyed by playing the game so I went to their forum and found a way to donate to run the servers for some time out of my pocket.

        And donating to Deimos from Tildes? 12$ per year is nothing to have such site full of awesome people and without ads and tracking. If Reddit wasn't run by clowns, I may have spent the money there. I believe in this project so I put my money where my mouth is.

        And donating to peple in need - when they lost homes or were born blind etc.? As I said, I live comfortable life and I can spare some money. Not much, but when need arises, I can do that here and there. Not everybody can, but if people who are able to did, we would all live in a better world. Have a look at all the people amassing obnoxious amount of wealth and/or money and then look on the other side of the coin. I think I live on the "better" side of things so I try to use that privilage not for myself, rather for other people.

        But I'm unbelievably cheap, don't be fooled! I run 10+ years old PC at home, my smartphone cost me 160€, the car we bought new was the cheapest that fullfilled our requirements (it's basic Ford Focus Combi, not even different color than the free one) and I could go on :-) I'm not overflowing with money, I just think how to spend it in "wise" way. And then I go and buy 200€ LEGO set...

        1 vote
  2. first-must-burn
    Link
    In a direct monetary sense, my comment here is part of a thread on charities and talks about my oft-beaten drum of radical tipping. Beyond direct monetary generosity, I think it begins with an...

    In a direct monetary sense, my comment here is part of a thread on charities and talks about my oft-beaten drum of radical tipping.

    Beyond direct monetary generosity, I think it begins with an awareness of the needs of the people around you. Then there is an intention to meet those needs even when it's not required.

    As a practical suggestion, it might help to set a goal to do one kind thing for someone every day. I don't think it has to be anything big. For example, walking into the grocery store, maybe I see someone taking the last item out of their cart and offer to return it for them. I was already going that way, so it didn't cost me anything extra, but it was still a nice thing to do.

    9 votes
  3. [4]
    chocobean
    Link
    Here's what I've observed from people who are more generous than I am: Say yes to those who ask more often, even those who are "unworthy". If you help those who can help themselves, that's just...

    Here's what I've observed from people who are more generous than I am:

    Say yes to those who ask more often, even those who are "unworthy". If you help those who can help themselves, that's just convenience. If you only help those who are very "good" people only, that's just normal level of social expectations and not generosity. Is that bum going to buy smokes and alcohol? Let them. This one helps me let go of judging people as hard (work on progress and super far from ideal)

    Make a % budget for giving and then raise it by 1% a year. A few people I know do this and it becomes bonkers what they can do and the projects they take on. And it doesn't "hurt" because they have been training themselves and stretching year by year.

    And find out what tax benefits charity giving gives you in return and do that every year.

    Generosity is a muscle: it gets easier with practice.

    What are some specific things you see the generous people doing that you can emulate?

    7 votes
    1. mierz00
      Link Parent
      Those are fantastic ideas, thank you for sharing.

      Those are fantastic ideas, thank you for sharing.

      1 vote
    2. [2]
      RodneyRodnesson
      Link Parent
      Always a triggering one for me. My son and I were out the other day and saw someone offer some food to a homeless guy who politely said 'no thanks'. They got all upset about it, swore at them and...

      Is that bum going to buy smokes and alcohol? Let them

      Always a triggering one for me. My son and I were out the other day and saw someone offer some food to a homeless guy who politely said 'no thanks'. They got all upset about it, swore at them and called them an ungrateful c word before storming off.
      It was a good discussion point for my son and I and reinforced our 'let people live their lives how they want' philosophy.

      1 vote
      1. chocobean
        Link Parent
        That's terrifying. I'm glad the man turned it down: who knows what they might have put in it. Offer gifts that respect the person.

        That's terrifying. I'm glad the man turned it down: who knows what they might have put in it.

        Offer gifts that respect the person.

        2 votes
  4. [2]
    16bitclaudes
    Link
    I donate to charities here and there but I'm a huge gift giver and try to be somebody that people can count on. I listen to the people I'm close to throughout the year and squirrel away presents...

    I donate to charities here and there but I'm a huge gift giver and try to be somebody that people can count on. I listen to the people I'm close to throughout the year and squirrel away presents for Christmas and birthdays; I log a lot of ideas on a Trello board if I can't get something straight away or I'm waiting for a sale price. It's great to see someone's face light up when they get something they mentioned all the way back in March and it makes them feel really seen/ heard.

    A couple of weeks back my mum's car broke down and she wasn't able to drive herself and my brother down for his birthday plans (they live all the way in Wales). It was a milestone birthday and I was determined he wasn't going to miss out, so I took a last minute day off of work and probably drove just shy of 1000 miles total over the weekend to get him over to England and back. I felt pretty fried afterwards but he had a great time that he'll always remember and that makes it worth it to me.

    I'm also baking a 4 layer carrot cake today for my boss's leaving do on Wednesday, which is a bit less demanding! As much as I have the generous spirit, I think sometimes I'm in the habit of stretching myself a bit thin at the expense of others and striking the right balance is something I need to work hard on. I don't always get the same energy back, but that's not really what it's about. Sometimes it just feels good to do good.

    6 votes
    1. mierz00
      Link Parent
      This sounds joyful and exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of. I really like the idea with the trello board, thank you.

      This sounds joyful and exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of.

      I really like the idea with the trello board, thank you.

      1 vote
  5. caliper
    Link
    I'm not sure I would call myself generous, since that feels bigger than what I'm doing in life, but I do enjoy helping people and I don't care that much about money. If someone needs help, I'm...

    I'm not sure I would call myself generous, since that feels bigger than what I'm doing in life, but I do enjoy helping people and I don't care that much about money.

    If someone needs help, I'm always up for some manual labor. I'll help you in the yard, will help people move, will offer to fix their cars, etc. Or if they need some help with technical stuff, I'm there. It's all the things I enjoy doing with the added bonus of making someone happy in the process.

    Financially, I'm better off than most of my family. My sister is on welfare because of an illness and I'll try to make their lives a bit easier whenever I can. They won't accept any money easily, but I've made it a sport to find ways of sliding some money their way. We'll laugh about it, which is all I ask for. I also enjoy taking them out to dinner or for drinks, they enjoy coming along.
    We've bought a vacation home a couple of years ago and everybody's free to use it. I don't want anything in return, I just want the house to be used. How strange it would be if there's a property there that would only be used during my vacation. And I prefer that over dealing with something like Airbnb, I really don't need the money.

    I've had some great examples in the past, no doubt. A lot of helpful people that would always say yes if you asked them for help. And a few very well off people that have been easy going with money.

    5 votes
  6. [4]
    vord
    (edited )
    Link
    Rather than trying to resell my old stuff, I give it away. Buy Nothing is a great initiative to help form a moneyless economy. I also do services for simple things I can do for free: Swap stuff in...

    Rather than trying to resell my old stuff, I give it away. Buy Nothing is a great initiative to help form a moneyless economy. I also do services for simple things I can do for free: Swap stuff in electrical outlets, knife sharpening, tool lending.

    You can get a good vibe for a local community by seeing what their BuyNothing is like. My old town was way better...a lot of old people on my new one expecting sob stories to get free stuff...which is kinda antithetical to the whole idea.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      Mendanbar
      Link Parent
      Buy Nothing seems interesting, but I'm hesitant to sign up for yet another service, and I'm skeptical of their approach. Their about page explains that they are a benefit corporation, which as far...

      Buy Nothing seems interesting, but I'm hesitant to sign up for yet another service, and I'm skeptical of their approach. Their about page explains that they are a benefit corporation, which as far as I can tell is just a regular corporation that has agreed to "do some good". It all seems to be mostly on the honor system, and it seems like it's easy to switch in and out of that type of business on a whim. They also seem to be mostly funded by angel investors at the moment, so it leaves me wondering what happens if that money were to dry up? I can see the benefit of having some sort of centralized common framework for this kind of transaction (vs more ad hoc solutions like freecycle), but I have too many questions to go jumping in just yet.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        vord
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        You can also find their older method: A local facebook group run by volunteers. A lot of the older groups are more active there. The app and everything is a newer solution decoupled from Facebook....

        You can also find their older method: A local facebook group run by volunteers. A lot of the older groups are more active there.

        The app and everything is a newer solution decoupled from Facebook. I give them credit for even offering an email+password signup instead of forcing Apple/Google/Facebook. Some history of the project. But the concept remains either way:

        Provide and ask for goods and services without any monetary or barter exchange. Give what you can, take what you need.

        3 votes
        1. Mendanbar
          Link Parent
          This is really good context! I wish some of this history was featured more prominently on their about page, because it lends a lot of credibility to their stated mission to see that this existed...

          This is really good context! I wish some of this history was featured more prominently on their about page, because it lends a lot of credibility to their stated mission to see that this existed prior to the current round of funding. At any rate, thanks for the reply.

          3 votes
  7. [3]
    devilized
    Link
    I'm not as generous with money as I probably should be, but I think that I am generous with time. I've been volunteering regularly (almost weekly) with an area non-profit that I'm particularly...

    I'm not as generous with money as I probably should be, but I think that I am generous with time. I've been volunteering regularly (almost weekly) with an area non-profit that I'm particularly passionate about for over a decade now. Now I sit on their Board of Directors, in addition to the hands-on volunteering. I also do donate to them and some other causes, but probably not an impressive amount of money relative to what I make.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      mierz00
      Link Parent
      What made you choose your non-profit? I’ve perhaps become too cynical from dealing with non-profit organisations in my line of work.

      What made you choose your non-profit?

      I’ve perhaps become too cynical from dealing with non-profit organisations in my line of work.

      1. devilized
        Link Parent
        Initially, I volunteered with them because it was fun. Then, in doing it regularly, I made a lot of friends there with amazing people. As time went on, I learned a lot about what kind of impact...

        Initially, I volunteered with them because it was fun. Then, in doing it regularly, I made a lot of friends there with amazing people. As time went on, I learned a lot about what kind of impact that they have on families in our community. And as I started becoming involved in other ways (financially and as a leader), I'm able to see first hand that the organization spends its money responsibly.

        There are plenty of non-profits who basically use the tax status as just a way of paying fewer taxes. Many eventually switch to becoming for-profit, such as many previously non-profit healthcare organizations. An organization's 990 tax form will tell you a lot about them, since that thing is very heavily audited.

        1 vote
  8. boxer_dogs_dance
    Link
    I try to know which charities in my area are reputable both so I can make a donation at the end of the year and so that if someone shows up on my local subreddit in financial need I can direct...

    I try to know which charities in my area are reputable both so I can make a donation at the end of the year and so that if someone shows up on my local subreddit in financial need I can direct them to that organization. I also know how to get in touch with battered womens organization.

    I am not as generous as I would like to be. However I help elderly family members with various challenges.

    2 votes
  9. [3]
    EnigmaNL
    Link
    I became generous automatically I guess, I never consciously thought about it. I don't really care about money or things all that much, so I'll give it away to family and friends freely. If my dad...

    I became generous automatically I guess, I never consciously thought about it. I don't really care about money or things all that much, so I'll give it away to family and friends freely. If my dad or sister needs money, I'll give it to them. If my sister's kids need or want something, I'll buy it for them.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      mierz00
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Is that something you’ve felt from a young age? If I look back, I have always been attached to money even since I was very young. I feel differently now as my wife is not like that but I can’t say...

      Is that something you’ve felt from a young age?

      If I look back, I have always been attached to money even since I was very young. I feel differently now as my wife is not like that but I can’t say I have ever let go. Despite being in a comfortable situation.

      1. EnigmaNL
        Link Parent
        I can't remember ever caring that much about money, to be honest, even when I had very little of it. If I have enough money to get by, I'm satisfied. I used to care more about things, but after...

        I can't remember ever caring that much about money, to be honest, even when I had very little of it. If I have enough money to get by, I'm satisfied. I used to care more about things, but after dealing with the things life threw at me, I stopped caring about those too. There are a few items I care about but only a handful.

        1 vote
  10. gowestyoungman
    Link
    I feel compelled to talk about it, but I was raised very strongly to believe that what you give you give anonymously and quietly. No shade on anyone here, that's just my background. But I can talk...

    I feel compelled to talk about it, but I was raised very strongly to believe that what you give you give anonymously and quietly. No shade on anyone here, that's just my background. But I can talk about other people's generosity. When I was starting out as a poor married teacher with a child, making $20k a year back in the prehistoric days, the chairman of the board of our little school showed up on our doorstep a few weeks before Christmas and handed me a check for $500. Totally blew me away as that was a huge amount of money to us as a young family. Never forgot his kindness and I admire people who give like that.

    2 votes
  11. [2]
    Akir
    Link
    I say this a someone who doesn't have any, but one thing I have learned about money is that it's effectively useless for many important things in society. To pick a very blunt and imperfect...

    I say this a someone who doesn't have any, but one thing I have learned about money is that it's effectively useless for many important things in society. To pick a very blunt and imperfect example, If you give money to someone who has contempt for you it may cause them to act nicer to you in public but chances are that they will still despise you behind your back. Money is also very much not the best tool to enact social change; it can spread a message very quickly but it cannot make people believe it in their hearts.

    So generosity to me has nothing to do with money. It has to do with caring for people. If you find someone who needs a pot, giving them your own pot is going to be infinitely more impactful to them than if you gave them the $20 so they could buy one. But in many ways it's harder: you have to know the person and listen to their story and understand them as people. And so the core of generosity is actually being generous with your time and attention.

    Philanthropy is another subject altogether.

    2 votes
    1. mierz00
      Link Parent
      This aligns closely to how I feel about generosity and I agree completely with being generous with time and attention. Thank you for sharing.

      This aligns closely to how I feel about generosity and I agree completely with being generous with time and attention. Thank you for sharing.

      2 votes
  12. trim
    Link
    I donate to a couple of charities, volunteer time, and pay forward at a local cafe. Don't know if it makes me generous as such.

    I donate to a couple of charities, volunteer time, and pay forward at a local cafe.

    Don't know if it makes me generous as such.

    1 vote
  13. ChingShih
    Link
    I grew up having to be quite frugal and as things got better generally having a hard time understanding where having "enough" money justified having more things for myself when I knew others were...

    I grew up having to be quite frugal and as things got better generally having a hard time understanding where having "enough" money justified having more things for myself when I knew others were in need. I'm in a comfortable place now, so on a small scale I try to think in terms of giving something if I'm receiving a service (provided by a human, sorry, I'm never tipping AI (but I might tip a replicant)). On a larger scale I try to donate often, because that makes it easier to become a positive habit and I look out for opportunities to donate to worthy causes.

    I always tip everywhere I go. Even in Europe, though it's up to the cleaning staff or wait staff as to whether they accept it (except for that one Parisian waiter who told me not to offend him with a tip -- he didn't say it that nicely, haha). But especially in third-world countries where even a little generosity goes a lot further. And because of social dynamics, people are more likely to pass that money on to their elders who need financial support or their local community.

    I rarely go out to eat for my own sake, so if I use a service like DoorDash as a special treat I only do it when there's a special promotion going on. But then I tip 75% of the value of that promotion to the person doing the delivery. I'm in a comfortable place now and I get to feel like I got a discount while also giving a healthy tip.

    I give to a variety of non-profits that I know have realistic (and impressive) goals and are yielding real results. They're not hard to find. I've also volunteered my time and donated things to fundraisers to raise money for specific charities. At the end of the year I try to donate books and household items that can be resold at GoodWill-like stores.

    Financially, I never really knew what the right amount to give is, because fundamentally public giving isn't enough to support all the needs (much less the wants) that we have. Whether that's cancer research or supporting a local youth group, or a citizen science project that wants to buy a spot on a rocket launch. Or supporting domestic animals or exotic wildlife. As a species we tend to spend money on the stuff we want more than the stuff we need.

    So when I heard that Muslims are supposed to donate 1/40 or 2.5% of their wealth/income, I thought that is a good amount to shoot for and as I got more comfortable I stopped thinking in absolute dollar terms and started thinking about percentage of income that I could part with for a good cause.

    1 vote
  14. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    I give money to GiveWell every year. It seems like a good default choice that's hard to beat. (There is also family stuff that I don't want to talk about yet.)

    I give money to GiveWell every year. It seems like a good default choice that's hard to beat. (There is also family stuff that I don't want to talk about yet.)

    1. [2]
      mierz00
      Link Parent
      Why do you choose GiveWell?

      Why do you choose GiveWell?

      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Historically: a long time ago, they did a tech talk at Google and I liked the concept. At the time, Google was matching charitable donations (up to $6000) and I wanted to take full advantage of...

        Historically: a long time ago, they did a tech talk at Google and I liked the concept. At the time, Google was matching charitable donations (up to $6000) and I wanted to take full advantage of that. There weren't any similar charity evaluators at the time.

        I trust them to evaluate charities far more thoroughly than I can. It's not often that you see charities that have scientific studies backing what they do. (GiveWell doesn't do the studies, but they read them and talk to the charities.)

        I used to read their recommendations to see if I agreed with them, but more recently, I've stopped paying much attention, so it's just a thing I do every year, typically at the end of the year.

        1 vote