When we think of donating to the poor or those in need we almost always exclusively think of it as monetary.  Right?

“Did you make a donation?”

“No, I didn’t give any money,” you think in response to the question.  Or, more likely, “Yes of course I gave a few dollars here and there!” if you are among the 94.5% of Americans who gave last year.  Thanks, average American!

Donating, giving to the poor, giving to those in need are things that take more than one form.  Why should they be any different than everything else..?

..Says the guy holding and swishing around a big flask, metaphorically.

Like everything else it takes three forms: time energy and resources.

Checking What You have First

It is a normal human reaction to consider what you have before you give.  Think about what happens if someone asks for your money, by having a sign, asking for it directly, or ringing a bell incessantly until your right ear hurts upon entering the business and left ear hurts upon exiting.

You consider what you have first.

Do you have spare change?  Can you write a check for $20?  Or more?  Well, let’s see what you have in your pockets, or your pocketbook.  This is important to remember, because you typically only check one facet of giving.

Three Forms of Giving

Unfortunately both the giver and receiver are sometimes thinking in terms of just one facet of what we have in our flasks – resources.  And only the monetary form of resources – (makes that rubbing motion with his thumb and forefinger).

It seems that if we are approached differently – from a more whole and mindful method of asking for help, that we will then consider the other facets.

But you can do this regardless of how you are asked.

Flask of time energy and resourcesWhen considering giving, look at the flask as a whole.  Consider what’s in it and what is meaningful for you.  Or at least, what do you have the most of?  Here’s a simple guide to help those that may want to give more, but don’t know how to approach it.  It has proven helpful for those seeking balance.


This may garner the largest eye roll.  When we think of time we think of spending countless hours doing what we don’t want to do, and doing for those that may not even want us to do it.  It doesn’t have to be like that.  If you’re Quality Time person like me, then time is even more important.  In considering giving time, it can be given with the quality that you are accustomed to giving and receiving – you just have to play a bigger part in the choosing.  Yes, just like what we see in coaching, a little effort and control at the beginning gets you a lot more for less effort.  Try matching your skills to what you are giving, ask some probing questions.  You may have to get past the charity’s initial contact to have these questions answered, but the end result is more meaningful help for the charity, and a better experience for you.


You may think this is built into Time or Resources but it’s not.  The Energy you expend on a charity may not have a large Time component.  Imagine those making calls or spending a small amount of time comforting others – it’s a very emotionally charged and intense event, but may not last long or cost a dime*.  On the Energy meter it may rank high, and in some cases drain most of the tank.  It also, and for most probably will, have the paradoxical effect of both draining and filling the Energy tank at the same time.  In balance coaching you experience a lot of win/win, but this is a win/win/win.  That’s a lot of win.  Maybe a military-grade level of win.  I don’t know, I’m not qualified to rate that properly.


This one we know – it’s the knee jerk reaction to giving.  But as I say in coaching when using the Balance Sheet, there’s more to resources than just money.  Perhaps you have a resource you can lend out?  Driving your car, or dropping off goods may be considered resources, but they aren’t wholly monetary.  You may have access to a resource through your work, a meeting room, or an entire fleet of vehicles.  You may have tools to lend in the summer, a pickup truck with lots of bed room you never use.  All resources.


Charity Choices

Choosing a charity can make a huge difference in the experience and ultimately just how much of your efforts reach those who need it most.  Researching a charity is always a good idea.  Like dating and job seeking (a parallel I draw often when I write about dating at Only A Glance), knowing someone in the transaction makes a huge difference.  If you’ve never given to a charity** talk to your friends, families and mentors and ask them how they give and participate.  If you’re part of a church then you probably have many avenues already in place.  Donating your time and/or energy and/or resources can be a very rewarding endeavor.  Making a good, meaningful fit can mean the difference between a one-time draining transaction or something you do as part of seeking and maintaining balance.  I want to help you do the latter.

Help me help you do the latter.

– Not Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire


* Yes, time is money, and there is opportunity cost in everything, but we are talking pure time to separate things here, in the predictable and easy to understand format of Alchemy For Life.

** See, you did it again?  I said “given to a charity” and you thought “money.”

About Mark Bradford

Check out Mark's fourth book: Alchemy for Life - Formulas for Success. Mark Bradford developed a system to achieve goals, manage your energy and understand and strengthen your path - it's Alchemy for Life. He writes, coaches and speaks on the subject. For more information, tips and tricks, like Mark Bradford on Facebook, follow Mark Bradford on Twitter. Schedule a 15 minute chat. Articles are posted regularly on AlchemyFor.Life, and LinkedIn.