Ripple effects: The potential impacts of giving
It seems common to talk about giving and generosity in terms of “ripple effects” generated by these good deeds. But is the idea of “ripple effects” the best metaphor to describe the potential impacts of giving? When you throw a stone into a pond, there are the initial ripple effects, but the ripples in the water eventually die out the farther away it gets from the point of impact. Do the impacts of giving and generosity decrease over time, or can we make the case that the impact increases over time?
There are at least five factors that support the ever-increasing impact of charitable gifts, especially when you give to a charitable organization:
- When you give to a charitable organization, your gift is pooled together with other gifts and can scale your impact.
- Organizations tend to have special expertise in their area of focus and can make a more lasting impact with their skill and expertise.
- If you are giving your money to organizations that do work internationally, there are other countries where money goes farther.
- Favorable tax treatment of gifts can enhance your gift.
- Giving is personally rewarding. If you’ve ever given a financial gift, you know the elevated feeling and brighter outlook you get as a result. This feeling is contagious.
Maybe a better metaphor then for giving and generosity is that of a tree, in particular, a fruit tree. Trees get bigger and stronger over time. As a tree yields fruit, that fruit contains seeds which, when planted and cared for, leads to more trees and more fruit. In other words, the impact of one small seed leads to a tree that can increase and multiply over time.
A good financial plan incorporates the element of giving goals and objectives. When you incorporate the ever-increasing impact of giving into your financial plan, it can put things in perspective and help you prioritize as you think about your fruitful legacy for generations to come.