We all know the amazing feeling that comes from ‘giving’ but, I will always be the first to admit I do not have the most impressive philanthropy record. Only one occasion sticks out in my mind where I willingly gave my time, energy, and money and expected nothing in return:
In high school, I gave private basketball lessons to local elementary school children for an hourly fee. One day, I received an inquiry about providing lessons for a church youth group made up of underprivileged children . They offered my going rate but I jumped on the opportunity to give back to the community and do it for free. I became submersed in a community of 15 eager boys and girls that did not know the basic rules of basketball. I was introduced to their rusty basketball hoop with a crooked rim and 4 old basketballs that were in every shape but a sphere. Throughout the 5 week endeavor, I witnessed an eager but clueless bunch transform into young basketball players who were able to conduct structured drills and play in organized games. It was humbling to see the reactions of the children when I bought new basketballs for them; most of them played with extremely lopsided balls all their life.
“Whoa, it bounces super straight,” I remember one of the kids saying after dribbling one of the new basketballs.
Walking away from each lesson gave me an insatiable “high” for life that is truly hard to describe. To put simply, it felt really good.
Years have passed since then and my schedule has become cluttered. I have resorted to what the bulk of my peers have been doing as charitable action: donating to food drives, donating old clothes, adding a dollar to whatever cause the local grocery store is supporting (partially because it is hard to refuse donating a dollar when the cashier asks you in front of a line of people).
All these actions were numb and unfulfilling compared to my past experience with the kids. I realized that the majority of these charitable deeds required a sense of optimism and imagination. We have to paint our own sanguine picture that our donated clothes are ending up on the backs of cold, needy children and our dollar is one of millions that are funding new homes. Regarding our clothing donations, the truth is quite deflating. ABC news wrote an article a couple year ago revealing that the clothing donations of the best quality (about 10% of all donations) end up at your local thrift shops where many of the customers end up being people like me and you: upper to middle class citizens scrounging for some good deals. The remaining 90 percent of what we give away is actually sold to textile recycling firms. Sad.
I have come to the understanding that in order to reignite the indescribable “high” from giving, I must see something through from beginning to end. I felt good about giving lessons because I witnessed it first hand and watched the children blossom over 5 weeks from start to finish. Unfortunately, busy schedules and a rocky economy make it difficult to dedicate time to a hands-on project or fund a project from start to finish but, I have been able to distinguish a form of compassionate action that is realistic for many individuals to do that can change lives: lending.
Lending opens the doors for individuals to pay for education, transportation, housing, the list goes on…
Financial blogger Craig Ford wrote
“I have one outstanding debt – a house loan. But, I didn’t get my loan through a regular financial institution. Living overseas, I would have been looking at a 10+% loan to buy a home. Seven families I know banded together and offered my family a loan to buy a home. I viewed and still view that loan as an act of kindness…That loan is a blessing to my family.”
The beautiful thing is the lender(s) can witness all the positives of their loan first hand.
Lending can be the vehicle we use to transition into ‘giving’ when we are financially ready.
People should not be intimidated by the loan experience. Sites like LendingKarma make it easy for lenders and borrowers to set up a loan agreement and help execute the loan step by step. LendingKarma provides the online, legally binding paperwork and tracks payments from beginning to end.
Best of Luck!
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” Maya Angelou
Jay is a marketing intern for LendingKarma. He is passionate about writing to share knowledge, inspire, and entertain