The New Generosity

It always used to be that giving money was the greatest sign of generosity, and wealthy landowners would dole out funds for the poor to show what good people they were. Nowadays though, although clearly organisations still need money to keep the wheels turning, they are much more likely to ask us to volunteer actually to do something. Instead of ‘Buddy, can you spare a dime’ it’s more like ‘Buddy, can you spare some time?’ But often in our fast-moving society, we are much more short of time than we are of money, and it’s harder for many of us to commit an evening or an afternoon than it is a fiver or a tenner.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one sign of healthy community is the willingness of ordinary people to give time sacrificially for the benefit of others. What does it mean to give time sacrificially? It means giving up time you would actually prefer to spend doing something else. So communities don’t just need people who have ‘spare’ time (if anyone knows where I can buy some of that, I’d be interested!) but people who are willing to give up precious, hard-won, highly valued time they could very easily spend in other ways. It takes real generosity to do that.