Why are we giving?

I had an interesting chat with a friend the other day sparked by my insistence that the only real computers/tablets/phones were the ones with the little ‘i’ as their first letter.

He disagreed, as is his prerogative, I suppose, even though he is, like, totally wrong.

His reasons for not liking Mac products, and not being willing to buy them, were mainly due to Mac’s well publicised and discussed reticence in giving to charity.

I pointed out that with the new CEO Tim Cook at the helm, there had been some changes in that area.

My friend maintained that the company was shamed into giving and that, in his opinion, it did not count for much if the intent behind it wasn’t really to help others but to just increase their kudos in the consumer sector.

And, you guessed it, that got me thinking 🙂

Does the motive for giving negate the good of the gift?

On a corporate level, I don’t think it does. Those millions of dollars are still worth millions of dollars to the charity they are given to, regardless of how Tim Cook felt about metaphorically signing the cheque. And I think it would be naive to think that any corporation really gave out of the goodness of their hearts – they are all doing it because they know that we feel better about buying their products if we think they are nice people. I am generalising, of course…I’m sure there are a few good souls out there in their suits and mercedes…but overall, big corporations are out to make money for themselves and their shareholders, not so they can give it all away.

So, anytime Apple wants to hand me a big fat cheque to help rescue people from human trafficking in Thailand or educate women in India or feed starving children in Africa, I will happily accept it thank-you-very-much.

But, do the same rules apply to personal giving? Maybe not.

When we give with an open hand, whether it’s our time, our money or another resource, the recipient will receive far more than just that one donation; they receive the blessing that goes right along with it when our hearts are in the right place. And, of course, how great do we feel when we give? We get a warm fuzzy feeling and, while that’s not the reason to give, it certainly is a lovely by-product.

When we give with a hard heart and a begrudging fist – and make it clear that we do so – we fail to give joy along with our gift but instead give a sense of indebtedness. And that’s no fun for anybody. And we deprive ourselves of far more than the physical money or time we have given. We deprive ourselves of the pleasure of knowing we have done some good and made a difference to someone’s life. We deprive ourselves of the pure joy that giving inextricably brings.

So. Does the motive behind giving really matter?

I think the person it matters most to is…you.

10 thoughts on “Why are we giving?

  1. I do feel good about giving – to whatever organization, charity, etc. But I don’t like being guilted into it (like so many people post on FB – if you don’t share this, you don’t care). Whether corporations are giving because it’s part of their mantra or just because they’ve been guilted into it – they are still giving. I wonder if the recipient organizations ask “why” or are simply grateful. I think simply grateful. While, right now, I cannot afford to contribute a chunk of my paycheck, I do promote and support some organizations, I give of my time to support my family (and in turn, they support our country), I give my time and a shoulder to cry on, when needed, and so on. It just feels good. (Shared on Twitter and FB.)


  2. I agree that a person, can get a warm, fuzzy feeling from giving to charity. A corporation, in spite of the pronouncements of the Supreme Court and one well known millionaire/presidential candidate, is not a person. And, without the tax benefits of charitable giving, it is highly unlikely that corporations or many individuals would make substantial donations. Most folks don’t eat at McDonalds or refuse to buy an iPad due to the company’s perceived support of charities they likewise support. (Chik-Filet excepted).


    • Yes, my husband commented that most likely the biggest reason a certain well known billionaire gives to charity is the tax benefits 🙂 And it is, as you say, surely one of the deciding factors that causes someone to whip out their cheque book.
      And I agree, most of us give lip service to supporting only those companies that give much to charity but in reality, we buy what we want and don’t really give it a second thought.


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