The holidays are a good time to think about how you give.

This might not be the type of giving you generally think about at this time of year, but it’s good to keep in mind as you make your plans for next year

I was looking for a good book on corporate ethics and landed on The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer. He is a moral philosopher and Professor of Bioethics at Princeton.

The book is primarily about altruism and stories of how altruistic leaders think about their wealth, how they live and how they give their money. It’s an inspiring read that may challenge how you think about about giving and how you give.

Three things altruists consider when giving: 

1/ The cause 

Altruists start by thinking about giving in ways that are familiar to them. Some are motivated by the place where they grew up or one they visited, an issue that has touched their life or one that draws on their expertise. 

2/ The impact

Altruistic leaders think about how their money can make the biggest impact. They may consider the operational efficiencies of various charities, the part of the world in which organizations work or the nature of the work itself.

Prevention is often cheaper than solutions that increase the quality of life for those affected by a disease. For some altruists like the Gates Foundation, preventative health initiatives in third world countries is how they can make the greatest impact on human life.

Fundamentally, they believe every life has equal value. Plus helping people in third world countries benefits everyone by creating more stability around the world.

Others think deeply about a concern such as the environment or animal abuse and use their expertise to reduce the impact of climate change and/or animal suffering.

One altruist looking at this issue concluded that promoting a vegan diet was the best way for him to help address animal abuse and curb the climate impact. Reportedly, commercial farming causes many chickens to suffer a cruel death and is one of the leading causes of climate change.

3/ The mindset

Many altruists start giving 10% of their income early in their career and increase the amount to 30-50% as they earn more. Others “work to give” which may be hard to wrap our brain around. It’s something that I had to sit with as well but found a way to connect the dots in my own life.

Giving doesn’t or shouldn’t mean sacrificing your own life. Altruists are very conscious about how they live and how they spend so that they can still enjoy life, purchase their own home and save for their future. For them giving is a privilege.

Develop a Plan

The pandemic is squeezing everyone one way or another. Admittedly, it’s hard to think about giving more or at all when there is so much financial insecurity in the world.

If you’re not in a place to give financially, there are still ways that you can be generous to others and the environment. Follow the same process and thing about how you can give your skills, knowledge and/or time.

Small changes to your own life can also reduce your impact on the environment and benefit others.

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