Give a person a fish and you’ll feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you will feed them for a lifetime. This well-known idea is simple, but powerful as it unpacks the main differences between one-time giving and creating sustainability.
Giving is a selfless action when your intentions are in the right place. People who work hard for what they have and then turn around and give it away without expecting anything in return – there’s something beautiful about that. The downfall of giving in some situations is, it can be a short term fix.
There are ways you can turn giving into something that lasts a lot longer.
Sustainability isn’t the only answer, but it is a start. When you choose sustainable giving, you are elevating the lives of others around you in a way that can last a lifetime. You are creating new opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Yes, often times this line of giving is more of an investment in time and resources, but the return is worth it.
In traditional giving, the only person who is risking or investing anything is the one donating. It is a give and receive relationship. When you look to create new opportunities through teaching a new skill or creating a marketplace for others, you create risk and investment opportunities for both parties. When you create sustainability, it enriches the lives of others, and has the power to form long-term relationships between people.
There is more at stake, more skin in the game.
Sustainable giving creates an environment that is no longer a “give and get” type of relationship. It’s a teacher-student relationship, or even better, a business partner relationship. It’s building bridges between people of different ages, cultures, world views, socio-economic groups, and more. In many instances, creating sustainability is a much more powerful tool than writing a check.
In the end, neither giving or building sustainability is right or wrong. They both have their place in this world, but it is important to think about what is best for each situation and to consider how our actions can affect those around us.