Transactional Giving vs. Intentional Generosity

Tis’ the season for giving. It’s the time of year when everyone starts to think about generosity. All around, people are making last-minute decisions about which organization should receive their annual monetary donation. It seems like the right thing to do. Every year, pull out a checkbook and do your part. But, there is an issue in this form of generosity. It can be somewhat transactional. This form of giving feels like an obligation vs. an enjoyable commitment. And, it leads to worthy organizations, which are in need of year-round support, being relegated only to year-end consideration.

What if everyone changed their mindset around generosity? What if generosity became something that wasn’t counted in dollar signs but measured in impact? What if generosity was something everyone wanted to practice all year round?

Generosity, like all things that matter in life, should be planned for. This is called intentional generosity. Intentional generosity is when people combine their passions and their unique resources to positively impact the relationships and/or causes that matter most to them. When people are intentional in their giving, generosity moves from being a transaction to a purposeful action that positively impacts both the giver and the recipient.

How do you practice intentional generosity?

Understand resources can be anything. Money is not the only thing that a person can donate. Anything can be considered a resource, including intangibles. Your time. Your knowledge. Your network. All these things are resources that you can use to practice intentional generosity.

Start with those closest to you. Large organizations are not the only type of causes that you can share your resources with. Intentional generosity can start with those around you. For example, offering a friend, who doesn’t have a car, a ride to and from work.

Identify what breaks your heart. The cause that makes your heart break is the cause that should receive your intentional generosity. Everyone’s heartbreak is different. For some people, seeing a hungry dog on the street causes them to feel that pain. For others, the idea that not all children have access to quality education is what causes them to stay awake at night. Everyone’s passions are different. But, everyone has one. Identify the cause that keeps you up at night. That’s the cause that you will want to contribute to year-round.

#GivingTuesday is November 27. It’s a movement to create an international day of giving, and it is a perfect time to start practicing intentional generosity. But, it’s more than just one day. Intentional generosity doesn’t mean you can’t respond to random acts of kindness or give end-of-year checks to worthy organizations. It means being purposeful in how you give, what you give, when you give and who you give to. When we are intentional about being generous, we change our giving from a transaction to something that makes a bigger impact for ourselves, the recipients and ultimately the world.

Interested in talking more about intentional generosity? Contact Blair Cunningham at