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Is this really the season for giving?

By Mosun Layode
24 December 2018   |   4:12 am
Christmas is my favourite time of the year. For me, Christmas cannot come early enough. I am that person you restrain from playing Christmas...

Mosun Layode

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. For me, Christmas cannot come early enough. I am that person you restrain from playing Christmas music or putting up decorations before December. It is such a happy season! Understandably, people tend to more giving, kind and generous during this period.

This makes me wonder why we can’t be this way all year round. There is a popular saying “Everyday is not Christmas” but why not? Especially since this saying is usually in reference to generosity. We cannot possibly reserve generosity for a few days in December. A trip to any Motherless Babies Home over the holidays will reveal how inundated they are with bags of rice, gallons of oil and Christmas goodies. In fact, sales records are broken at the end of year, simply because our generosity antennas are higher. It is like waiting until 11:55pm to start with the day’s To-do-List.

When we think about it, there is an innate desire in us to do good, to be kind to our neighbours and to be generous but nothing about these feelings should be directly related to Christmas only. So why do we wait all year to give? According to US statistics, 34% of donations to charitable organizations take place between October and December, with half of that being donated in December alone. Considering that giving is more advanced in the United States, it is likely that the figures are even more startling in Nigeria.

Yes, some people give all year round but the numbers are few, the giving is limited and many times in response to specific needs or direct requests. However, Christmas is different. We tend to be more focused. We make a list of who we want to give to, what we want to give and how much to give. We actually have well laid out plans; in other words, we are strategic about our giving. This ought to be our lifestyle all year round!

It may sound like a lot to commit or invest in 12 months. However, giving should not be quantified in monetary terms only. In philanthropic circles, we talk about the three Ts – Treasure (money/assets), Talent (Skills) and Time (Volunteering). These are several ways of giving. Regarding money, we should not wait until we are super rich to give; we can start from where are and increase our giving as our income increases. In Bill Clinton’s book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World one of the most inspiring stories was of Oseola McCarty, a black female domestic worker who donated over $150,000 at the time of her death towards scholarships for black female students in University of Southern Mississippi because she wanted them to have opportunities that she did not habe. Who would have thought she would save that much! The lesson here is that we all can give, regardless of our status or income bracket.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index, if Africa’s middle class joined the rest of the world’s middle class to give 0.5% of their spending, the continent and the rest of the world would have $319 billion in resources for civil society organizations annually by 2030.

Does this mean we should we stop giving during the holidays? Not at all! Without a doubt, giving during the festive season has its benefits. More importantly, it provides the unique opportunity to establish relationships with organizations we can continuously give to.

To give all year, here are some steps to consider:
Explore local causes that align with your passion or interests in your community.

Determine what you want to give – volunteering your time, expertise or giving a specific amount every month.
Leverage giving events and crowdfunding sites – Global Giving, Go Fund Me, Startsomegood.org.

Run or walk for a cause to raise money or raise awareness about a specific issue and stay connected with the initiative.

Measure and track the impact of your giving as it helps inform how to improve on your giving.

If we all do our bit, we are bound to more the needle towards the Africa that we want. As the African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. For more about Strategic Giving, visit africanpf.org
Layode is the executive director of the African Philanthropy Forum