Friday, November 20, 2015

Soul Sustenance: Simple Giving

Jennifer Iacovelli recently published SIMPLE GIVING: Easy Ways to Give Every Day. This book, which I was sent to review, is a great reminder this time of year. It's not just about the things we have, but what we can give - and we don't have to give a lot to have a big impact. It's a good look at philanthropy, and what it means to be a giving person.

I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
While working in the nonprofit world for the past 10 years in Maine, I noticed a disconnect between donors and nonprofits. Many donors didn't quite know the best way to give and nonprofits couldn't find the right supporters to fulfill their general needs for the organization. I explored the topic of philanthropy and what it means to give on my blog, another jennifer. After several years of featuring businesses and people who incorporate giving into everyday life, I identified 6 different giving models and started compiling resources and more stories. I knew all the wonderful inspiration I had needed to be in a book!
Why is this time of year a particularly appropriate time to look at this subject?
I think this time of year, being so close to the holiday season, is a great time to think about how we give in general. I realized a few years back that I needed to get out of the mindset of only thinking about giving at the end of the year. It makes sense to spread out our giving - no matter how we give - throughout the year to make a bigger impact. My hope is that the book will make giving top of mind every day and not just during a season.

What ways can people give (besides money)?
We tend to think of giving in terms of donating money or volunteer time, but there are so many ways to give. Just holding the door open for a stranger can be an easy way to give. You can also visit a classroom and talk to kids about a cause that is important to you. When you shop, you can make it a point to support local merchants or choose fair trade products. There are so many easy ways to give when you stop and think about it. 

If people feel they're short on time or resources, how can they still be generous?
I always encourage people to be mindful of the opportunities to give that are right in front of you. If you are in the grocery store parking lot, help someone put their groceries in their car. Try coordinating a food drive for your local food pantry at work or at your gym. Talk to your friends about pooling a small amount of money each month to donate to a local nonprofit at the end of the year. The other day I gave an extra $5 to help another student in my son's class go on a field trip when I signed his permission slip. Giving is such a personal experience. The key is to identify the best way for you to give.

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