Inspired Giving

By Amy Andrews McMaster
[Mindful Money]

What inspires you to give? After graduating from college, I spent a year as a volunteer science teacher on the Navajo Nation. I felt grateful that my parents paid for most of my college education, and I was able to defer my loans. Since I admired Native American ways of being, I found a program where I could offer my new teaching skills. I gained so much that year: wonderful memories of the land, the culture, the traditions, the students, and all the new friends I made. It felt peaceful on the Navajo Nation. I learned lessons about what I value and what I need to be happy. It was such a gift to have time and space for quiet reflection.

As I grew older, though, I found it more difficult to donate my time in this manner. The resources we have at our disposal, it turns out, shift constantly. When we are younger, maybe we have more time and energy. When we are older, maybe we have more money. It is wise to be mindful about setting priorities that align with our values for spending, saving, and giving. The resources we can give (money, time, energy) vary depending on what else is happening in our lives. Let’s look at three different examples.


This January, our 9-year-old, Fiona, shared her goal to help feed the homeless. Fiona feels grateful for our comfortable middle-class lifestyle. She feels sad for people who do not have a safe home, a comfortable place to sleep, or food in their hungry belly. Fiona has the motivation and passion to help. She skillfully used her energy and vision to make powerful requests for help, whether financial or logistical. We are delighted to help her achieve her inspired goal.


Kelly, a mid-career executive, gives in a different way.
She’s extremely busy with work and family and is financially successful. Kelly, whose sister was a victim of domestic violence, feels everyone should have a safe place. So, she donates money to a shelter with innovative programming. She’s inspired to help because the shelter does things she cannot and, to do so, they need financial support from people like Kelly. Kelly’s company is supportive of leaders who take positions with nonprofit organizations, so she is considering joining the board of this organization.


Alex is a retired attorney. While he has a comfortable lifestyle, he does not have significant wealth. However, he does have time, energy, and the motivation to be of service. As the son of a hardworking immigrant, Alex enjoys the opportunity to use his skills for a nonprofit organization that supports the legal rights of immigrants. He serves as a part-time pro bono attorney.


Each of these examples illustrates a different way to give—all of them valuable and necessary.

How could you give in a way that sparks joy for you? What’s your vision for your community or the world? Would you enjoy painting a playground? Volunteering at a food bank? Visiting residents at a care center? Supporting an animal rescue? Helping a neighbor with some household repairs? What do people in your community need? What are you passionate about?

If your time is limited, you could research charities, find your favorite one, and donate an amount of money that feels right for you. If money is a limited resource, donate unused items by asking the simple, yet powerful, question, “Does this bring me joy?” We don’t hang on to things; we hang on to emotions attached to those things. Let it go. It is better to have fewer things that you love than many things you don’t really like. Donate clothes, books, and supplies that you are ready to part with to classrooms, libraries, charities, or friends who really need them.

If you have time and energy, you might consider joining a local volunteer group. Online volunteer matching services like VolunteerMatch or Idealist can help. You can search the sites by type of volunteer activities and by location. Once you find an opportunity that interests you, fill out a volunteer application, and you’re on your way.

Is there something you feel grateful for? Could you turn your gratitude into inspiration? Perhaps you have wonderful relationships in your life and you know how much joy these connections bring. You could allow your gratitude for these connections to inform your desire to bring connection to others. If you have a unique talent or skill, would it bring you joy to share it with others?

It is important, of course, to save and spend wisely. But giving—of your time, energy, money, and other resources—feels great and can make a real impact. If you have the resources, consider giving in a way that is right for you. If you want some inspiration, check out

Happy giving!

Amy Andrews McMaster is a certified coach who is passionate about helping individuals, teams, and leaders achieve success, face obstacles, choose courage, build trust, and lead with a growth mindset. She is excited to become a certified Dare to Lead facilitator later this year. Contact her at