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An Economy of Generosity

Over a joyous evening loitering in the sun, a friend tells a tale of how she offered help to two seemingly lost strangers. A week later, the two ‘strangers,’ who were in fact visiting from British Columbia, leave a bag full of groceries hung lovingly on said friend’s front door. They’re on their way back home and can’t make use of all the groceries, so they paid it forward. Said friend no longer needs to worry about grocery shopping that week. A small offer of generosity, with no expectation of return, is paid forward a week later in the form of free groceries!
“In community development, there are people writing articles and books about this!” I exclaim. “Know what they call it?” I ask excitedly, as they all respond in unison, “KARMA!!” Whatever you do, comes back to you. What does karma have to do with the economy?  Well, a lot, actually.

  • Said friend no longer needs to buy groceries that week, so she instantly saves money. When we share the things we need, we don’t need to buy them.
  • Two friends also reduced waste. They didn’t throw out the unused groceries because they couldn’t make use of it. Instead, they recognized someone else might benefit, so they shared it. When we share things, we waste less.
  • Friends were made! And who couldn’t use an extra buddy?! Next time you road trip to BC, maybe you need a place to stay. If nothing else, you’ll have new friends to enjoy a meal with- pretty sweet deal!

Stories like this may easily get summed up as coincidence, far and few between, but stories of generosity are commonplace. Fundamentally, we know that we don’t just need money (yes, we need money to realize our basic necessities) but we need each other too! In an economy of generosity, my needs are met and so are yours. Instead of exchanging money to do this, we exchange our gifts instead. Not gifts of wrapped goodies but our gifts of skill, time, support (emotional, mental, and spiritual), items, resources, physical space, friendship- the list is endless.
At Momentum, we call these gifts, assets and we say, “money helps you get by, assets help you get ahead.” When an individual realizes just how ‘rich’ they are, they can utilize these gifts in creative and unique ways to increase their livelihoods and contribute meaningfully to their communities. There are gifts in abundance everywhere we look. When we spend meaningful time together, we are reminded that we depend on each other. What’s good for you becomes good for me too and it’ll eventually come back to me, in a new form of generosity. It becomes a circular relationship of giving and receiving that’s infectious and that we all want to participate in.
So we want to know, what gifts have you given lately? Or share a time when you’ve been on the receiving end! Stuck for ideas? Here are 37 ways you can participate in an economy of generosity today! Want to explore some of your own gifts? Register for our free two-hour money management workshop on Assets and get ready to get your gift on today!
Hopeful giver & future receiver!