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The Edward and Beth Honig Family Foundation

Beth’s Welcome: On Charity, Kindness and Generosity

The reward of charity depends entirely upon the extent of kindness in it.

Welcome to my blog where I share highlights from my personal philanthropic involvements, musings about the importance of giving back to others, as well as exciting news from throughout the nonprofit world.

Many (if not most) of us want to make the world a better place. We have hearts of gold and we want to lend a helping hand to someone in need. But our actions don’t always measure up to our good intentions. There’s usually something that keeps us from getting more involved with our communities. Whether that something is a lack of time (“I’m too busy!)” or a lack of resources (“I don’t have the necessary talent/money/ideas!”) or a lack of information (“I don’t know know where to start!”), we hold off from volunteering with various causes or becoming more active in our neighborhood activities. Rather than saying, “Sign me up,” we say, “next time…” or “if only…”

Notice that I’m using the word “we,” right?nd I’m saying “we” because the I-want-to-get-involved-but-I-don’t-have-time dilemma is something we all share. Although I strive to be very involved with many great causes, I understand the challenges that keep others from being less active. Being overwhelmed, overworked and overscheduled is par for the course for many of us these days.

I’m saying “we” because the I-want-to-get-involved-but-I-don’t-have-time dilemma is something all of us share. Although I strive to be very involved with many great causes, I understand the challenges that keep people from being less philanthropically minded or active in their communities. Being overwhelmed, overworked and overscheduled is par for the course for most of us these days.

In a poll conducted last year by the Los Angeles Times, nearly half of the local respondents who were surveyed about why they were not getting involved in their communities said one of the primary reasons is that they were too busy. Among the other results were forty-two percent of poll-takers who said they didn’t have enough money to contribute to various causes, and then 39% said they weren’t even sure what they could do to help. Lastly, there was a slightly smaller group of respondents (31%) who said that they weren’t getting involved because they didn’t feel like they could make a difference.

Lastly, there was a slightly smaller group of respondents (31%) who said that they weren’t getting involved because they didn’t feel like they could make a difference.

Lest we forget, however, that brilliant statement by President John F. Kennedy who said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” 

In 2011, business writer Steve Tobak wrote a terrific piece, “Can One Person Really Make a Difference?,” for the Moneywatch column at CBSnews.com. In it, he says:

Think about it. When one person influences a few others, there are two major effects:

  1. A ripple effect that, over time, can actually impact thousands over generations.
  2. A broadening effect since one person influences many, like multiplying tree branches.

Here’s an exercise for you. Think about all the people you may have had an impact on in your life. Employees, coworkers, bosses, vendors, customers, family, friends. Lots and lots of people. And they’re just part of the equation. You may have influenced dozens of others without even realizing it.

Touching lives and making a difference in the world doesn’t necessarily happen in leaps and bounds.  In fact, the wise and benevolent Helen Keller once said this:

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

There’s an abundance of inspiring sayings like Keller’s about the importance of practicing generosity in our everyday lives. I’ll be sharing these sayings from time to time here on my blog. Some of the quotations will be from famous people and some of them will come from some not so famous sources, like this beautiful sentiment from Talmud:

The reward of charity depends entirely upon the extent of the kindness in it.

Charitable involvement is near to my heart. For me, the reward is a sense of connection and togetherness that reminds me that I’m a small part of a larger good.