The Science of Generosity and Giving: How Living the Law of Abundance Can Bless Your Life

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” -Charles Dickens

It has been said that it is better to give than to receive. I fully believe this to be true because the feeling we get from giving is so wonderful that there aren’t enough words to describe just how great we feel. When we give, we feel joy, love, and all of those warm “fuzzy” feelings and every cliche associated with them. 

 I think it’s important to graciously receive as well. If people don’t receive the gifts we give, then giving is useless. There is a two-way street there, for sure. But giving requires more of a sacrifice than getting and therefore the reward for giving is greater. When we sacrifice our time, our money, and our talents to help someone in need the sacrifice results in a greater reward. 

This is something I’ve found to be true in my own life. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and as part of our membership I have elected to donate 10% of my income to the Church. At times the sacrifice to donate that 10% is so great that it could mean the difference between having a roof over my family’s head or not and sometimes the sacrifice is as natural as breathing and doesn’t take anything from me. At times I make the sacrifice with little faith, hoping that all will work out. Other times I make it fully believing and understanding that my sacrifice will be rewarded. However, every time I have followed through on that sacrifice I have seen a blessing in my own life. Sometimes it’s only a small blessing, like just being able to live in our apartment for another month or having enough food to eat in spite of how close it comes to not having enough. But either way, when I make the sacrifice I find that my sacrifice is rewarded with a blessing.  

During a trying time for my family, we made the decision to pay that 10%, knowing full well that there just might not be enough to survive until the next paycheck. However, after that sacrifice we received a very great, very needed blessing. That sacrifice became the turning point in our situation that led to receiving that great blessing and many more that followed. This is usually how these things work. We receive great and simple blessings for our willingness to sacrifice. It’s not just a religious principle, it’s a scientific one as well. The blessings we receive for making those sacrifices are notable and profound. 

In a talk given at Brigham Young University, Arthur C. Brooks, an American social scientist, musician, columnist for the New York Times, and president of the American Enterprise Institute illustrates why living the law of abundance is actually beneficial to you, your life, and even your finances. In the talk, titled “Why Giving Matters” he shares a study that he headed which observed what happens when people give. In this study, they were able to find that giving actually created an abundance. He states, “Specifically, here’s what I found. If you have two families that are exactly identical—in other words, same religion, same race, same number of kids, same town, same level of education, and everything’s the same—except that one family gives a hundred dollars more to charity than the second family, then the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the nongiving family—and that’s statistically attributable to the gift.” Giving to others and living the law of abundance can bless your life in many ways even helping you financially. 

aGoodCause - Guy giving gift to old woman living happy, healthy, and live a more abundant life

However, money isn’t the only thing that we can become rich in. People have also been shown to be happier, healthier, and live a more abundant life all around. Brooks expresses that giving and generosity make people happier. He states: “It turns out that the data on happiness and charitable giving are beyond dispute. People who give to charity are 43 percent more likely than people who don’t give to say they’re very happy people. People who give blood are twice as likely to say they’re very happy people as people who don’t give blood. People who volunteer are happier. The list goes on. You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.” So not only can giving make you rich in money, but it can also make you rich in the things that matter most. Happiness can’t be bought but spending money on others can make you happier. Everyone can use a little more happiness in their lives. 

To add to Brooks’ research, there is also more evidence of how giving can bless our lives. In a book titled The Paradox of Generosity, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson state as well that by giving we receive and that this is not just a religious principle. They state, “Generosity is paradoxical. Those who give, receive back in turn. By spending ourselves for others’ well-being, we enhance our own standing. In letting go of some of what we own, we better secure our own lives. By giving ourselves away, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is not only a philosophical or religious teaching; it is a sociological fact.” It isn’t just a religious idea, giving actually makes you live more abundantly. If you give, you will receive. 

This also works in the reverse, if we hold onto things we will lose them. Davidson and Smith speak on this as well, “The generosity paradox can also be stated in the negative. By grasping onto what we currently have, we lose out on better goods that we might have gained. In holding onto what we possess, we diminish its long-term value to us. By always protecting ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes. In short, by failing to care for others, we do not properly take care of ourselves.” In other words, our success in a way is dependent on the success of others and if they fail, we fail. If we can’t take care of others, then we aren’t taking care of ourselves. 

This idea, the paradox of generosity isn’t new and shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. It has been a religious principle for centuries and also has been taught by many people. Just as Smith and Davidson point out. They state, “The paradox of generosity should not be surprising. Very many wise observers of human life across all of recorded history have taught different versions of the generosity paradox.” From a Hebrew proverb to Buddha, to a Hindu proverb, and even to Jesus of Nazareth, each in their own words has taught the principle of the generosity paradox. 

But even with the wise words of religious leaders, there is also the scientific evidence of it. Smith and Davidson conducted a study of Americans’ belief and practices of generosity. In this “nationally representative survey of Americans’ practices and beliefs about generosity,” over hundreds of interviews, they discovered this in summary, “What we have learned is the following. First, the more generous Americans are, the more happiness, health, and purpose in life they enjoy. This association between generous practices and personal well-being is strong and highly consistent across a variety of types of generous practices and measures of well-being. Second, we have excellent reason to believe that generous practices actually create enhanced personal well-being. The association between generosity and well-being is not accidental, spurious, or simply an artifact of reverse causal influence. Certain well-known, explicable causal mechanisms explain to us the specific ways that generous practices shape positive well-being outcomes. Third, the way Americans talk about generosity confirms and illustrates the first two points. The paradox of generosity is evident in the lives of Americans.” So the more generous we are, the more we share, the more we give, the more we will see in return. Our lives will be better, happier, and we will feel more fulfilled. 

The results of their findings, as well as other scientific findings, are clear and precise–the more we give the more we will be blessed. Brooks found the same finding in his study as well as Davidson and Smith. The scientific evidence is clear; when we give, we receive. As Davidson and Smith state in their book most succinctly, “Giving money, volunteering, being relationally generous, being a generous neighbor and friend, and personally valuing the importance of being a generous person are all significantly, positively correlated with greater personal happiness, physical health, a stronger sense of purpose in life, avoidance of symptoms of depression, and a greater interest in personal growth. Therefore, giving is a blessing for you and for me. 

So if you ever wonder whether it’s worth the effort to give, I would implore you to remember what Davidson and Smith say on the matter, “People may rightly wonder whether being a generous person and acting generously is a costly course of life. They might ask whether spending money, time, attention, energy, and emotions on and for the good of others proves to be a net loss in the overall scheme of things. The answer here is clear and compelling. Greater generosity is clearly, positively associated with many of the characteristics that most people consider essential to a good life: happiness, health, purpose, and growth. That is a significant finding with major implications for living.” “Major implications,” indeed. Living the law of abundance is a formula for a happy life. 

Homework: Study the blessings of living the law of abundance. Whether that’s actually looking at the science of giving or whether that’s just taking a study of your own life and how your life changes in a positive way after implementing the law of abundance. Either way, when you are looking at the evidence for how living the law of abundance can bless your life, the evidence is there. Living the law of abundance is about giving to others as well as giving to yourself. If we only live the law of abundance we will see the blessings abundantly in our lives. 

Author:  Ashley Christensen

BYU Talk – https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_giving-matters-2/ The Paradox of Generosity: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QGvrAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=giving+to+receive&ots=3lY0XAoLE_&sig=1GoeYYGzEOxUBfCiew1trUVWhC0#v=onepage&q=46&f=false

The Law of Abundance: Living a More Joyful and Charitable Life

Mark Twain once said, “If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.” What this simple and beautiful quote indicates to me is that love, abundance and full joy isn’t a solo sport–to have love and abundance in our lives we must share it with others. This is the law of abundance. It seems counter intuitive but it’s not, which is why the law of abundance is such an interesting topic to discuss and learn about. The law of abundance isn’t always called the law of abundance. It is referred to sometimes as the “law of giving” or just simply “abundance.” Occasionally it can be explained as the “blessing of giving” and in religious groups it’s known as “you reap what you sow” whether for good or bad. In some circles that’s called Karma. But the law of abundance is about so much more than bad people getting their comeuppance or getting revenge.

The law of abundance is like the overall term for a cycle of giving. You give, you get. In layman’s terms that’s what it’s all about. However, it’s not as simple as that and it’s not as though if you give to someone, they will give to you. The law of abundance is about what God gives to you, or the universe, or fate or whatever you believe in. That being or entity gives to you something for being willing to give something. The law of abundance is a beautiful law that can bless our lives if only we lived it.

In this four week course I will go over several topics that concern the law of abundance. In week one I will share four basic principles of the law of abundance. The second week I will talk about how the law of abundance is needed and why. In the third week I will discuss abundance versus scarcity mindset and how we can overcome the scarcity mindset and live in abundance. Finally, in the fourth week I will discuss the blessings and scientific results of the law of abundance. Each week I will also have some “homework” or tips and ideas on how to implement the law of abundance in your own life. 

Four Basic Principles of Living the Law of Abundance 

I want to share with you four basic principles of living the law of abundance. Each of these principles are fundamental and essential principles to living the law of abundance and living an abundant life. 

Understanding: The first of the four principles is understanding. This is important because understanding comes before serving. You have to understand that there is a need before you can fill that need. Therefore, having an understanding of a need is the best place to start. One thing that is important for us to understand is that there is a need. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, old or young there is always a need. Whether that’s love, friendship, money, a listening ear, or just a smile during a hard day. Everyone needs something. 

But understanding isn’t just about being able to recite facts about that person or being able to have a good conversation. Understanding is about empathy. In Stephen R. Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he shares a section called “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood” which is a principle of empathetic communication. He issues the idea that the best way to understand someone is to use empathetic listening. Most of us listen to respond instead of listening to understand. He uses the example of going to an optometrist and instead of diagnosing the problem the doctor gives you his glasses and explains that he has been using them for years and they have worked for him so they should work for you. That’s prescribing before you understand. 

Which is why understanding is an important first step in living the law of abundance. How can we help (or prescribe) or even give if we don’t understand the need? Covey also goes on to say that empathetic listening is about listening to the things that are sometimes unspoken. He states that, “Empathetic listening involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even understanding the words that are said. Communications experts estimate, in fact, that only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30 percent is represented by our sounds, and 60 percent by our body language. In empathetic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel.” So you don’t just listen with your ears, empathetic listening is about looking at and trying to understand the whole picture. This is a good explanation as to why there are so many rifts and upsets on social media, because communication is limited not only by what we don’t hear, it’s also limited because we can’t see or watch for those little facets of listening that help us to truly understand each other. 

aGoodCause - Digital Media Information Medium News Concept

Therefore, as a good first step to living the law of abundance, start with learning how to listen to those around us and listening first to understand the need. Then we can help and give in a way that will truly benefit those who need it and help us to more fully live the law of abundance. 

Love: The second basic principle of living the law of abundance is love. This seems pretty vague and sort of obvious at the same time. However, love is something that is an essential part of taking care of each other and frankly, life, and therefore should be included in this list. I know psychologists, psychiatrists, theorists, analysts, anthropologists, and pretty much every poet in the history of the universe has tried to define love since the beginning of time. I won’t pretend to know that I hold the secret. There are obviously different kinds of love and different levels of love within those kinds. But when it comes to living the law of abundance and love, I would say this kind of love is more along the lines of charity. But charity isn’t just about giving or donations. It’s about love. The two go hand in hand. I could donate a whole houseful of stuff to Goodwill but that doesn’t mean I feel love for the people who purchase my stuff. Usually those kinds of acts are about me cleaning out my junk that I’ve collected. Does that mean it’s a worthless act? No, it’s still giving and giving still has worth even if you don’t know the person you’re giving to. But giving old stuff I don’t use anymore is not necessarily living the law of abundance. There’s so much more to it than that. 

For this discussion on love, I want to steer clear of the cliche, mimicked, repetitive and overused theories involving love and how to love those you serve. Therefore, I’d like to talk about a kind of service that maybe isn’t what you’d think of when you think of service or charity–customer service. While I don’t want to focus so much on the “customer” aspect of customer service, I would like to focus on the tools of good customer service and how we can use those same tools in loving those we serve. Focusing on customer service is a tricky area, I know, because there is such a stigma on business and companies and usually when we think of giving and charity, the businessman isn’t the first line drawn. As well, there are many businesses out there that are just worshiping the almighty dollar and do have the worst customer service. But for a business, a smart business to stay in business, they have to remember that their customer service is what matters most. How they treat those who keep them in business is essential to staying in business. Because we care about how we are treated, even when buying a simple pair of pants or even a car. 

Take for instance, this story from American Express Company. Written by Sandi Krakowski, she talks about her experience buying a car from a local dealership. She states, “I recently bought two cars from the same local car dealership, two months apart. The first purchase was like doing business with a longtime friend. The staff welcomed us, and everybody made sure we were taken care of. The salesman queried us about our needs and preferences, explained features and options we weren’t aware of, and answered our questions. We felt like our purchase was the most important one of the day. And at no point did we feel pressured. When it came time to buy another car, the decision about where to buy was easy!” So instead of being focused on making the sale the salesman focused on the needs of the customer. They helped Sandi and her family feel as though they were cared for and even loved because he took the time to figure out her needs and wants. He tried to understand where they were coming from and helped make suggestions he thought would help based on that information. 

Although some might see it as counter productive maybe it would be beneficial to use the great examples in commerce to help in service. Charity is a transaction. There may not be an exchange of funds necessarily, but there is an exchange of goods. Think about the best experience you had with customer service. I know we all have our bad stories and our bad experiences, it happens. But think about the good ones. What was good about it? Why did you feel appreciated? What did it make you want to do? If something as materialistic as purchasing a car, like Krakowski’s example, can make us feel like friends instead of customer and salesman, what worked in that customer service transaction? 

For me, I had a great experience with Apple. One day I couldn’t get a song to play on my iTunes. I tried everything on their website help section and it didn’t matter what I did, this song would not play. I called their customer service for help and within a little bit of time the song was playing again. As a kind gesture for my trouble they gave me four free credits for songs. The woman I talked to was kind, asked me all the right questions and made me feel like my concerns were being met. I loved the customer service so much that I never stop telling people and I want more songs to break just so I can call again. They have my business. 

Isn’t that interesting? Just because they were kind and understanding, I will shop with them again. That’s what a transaction of service could use–customer service. Great businesses know that they are there to serve the customer. Let’s use that thinking and remember that we are here to serve our fellow man; it’s one of our greatest responsibilities. Love is as important in customer service just as love is important in service. How can you truly help someone if you don’t love them, if you aren’t kind to them, if you don’t understand their needs? 

Again, I don’t want the focus here to be about the business. But I want to focus on the tools that businesses use in customer service that help create the great experiences that make us want to keep coming back. Tools, such as listening, understanding, kindness (even in the face of anger because let’s be honest, we all have yelled at someone in customer service who we knew didn’t deserve it), and help. If we can implement some of these tools into how we treat those we serve, then we can show that we love them.

A lot of the tactics of good customer service aren’t new and aren’t just practices used in businesses. They are good principles that can be used in any area of our lives. We could use a little more kindness and understanding in our world. That’s all service really is–kindness and understanding. We focus on their needs, or their feelings, or their struggle. In that way we can learn how to help them best. So maybe it’s time service take a page from customer service and put the people we serve first. That’s how we can show them that we love them, that we care about their needs, and that we truly want to help. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Where there is love there is life.” So let’s love. 

Giving: The next and third principal of living the law of abundance is a pretty obvious one because you can’t have the law of abundance without the principle of giving. It’s like cookies and milk or pie and ice cream or maybe I’m just hungry. But the two go together like Sandy and Danny, they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Tell me about it, stud. So having one without the other just wouldn’t be possible. To truly live the law of abundance we must give. 

There are so many ways that we can give every single day. Some bigger and some smaller. And there’s no limit to the amount of times we can give in a day and there’s no limit to the amount of people we can help in a day. I mean, obviously there is a personal limit of what you can handle. But if you can help seven people in a day, do it. The greatest thing is that we don’t have to limit ourselves in giving as long as we can feasibly, physically, and financially help more people, we can. 

Giving also comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes giving your clothes away that you don’t use is enough, sometimes a situation requires your time. Like helping a friend move would require your time. Another way to give is an obvious one–money. Giving money is probably the hardest sometimes because money, as they say, makes the world go round. It’s a commodity, it can mean the difference between life and death sometimes. But giving, even financially is a big part of living the law of abundance. 

As I stated there are so many different ways that we can give. Giving doesn’t have to be just giving money or clothing and sometimes it doesn’t even have to come from you directly. Ron Lynch is a great example of a great and unique way to give. Lynch, a mail carrier in Sandy, Utah was delivering the mail when he noticed a young man starved for reading material. Mathew Flores, desperate for something to read, was using advertisements and newsletters that he found in the junkmail bin. Lynch was determined to find better reading material and shared a short post on Facebook, hoping to get a few donations from friends and family. However, they got more than they expected. According to the Deseret News article, “Lynch shared a picture of Mathew on Facebook, hoping a few of his friends would have some books to spare. The post spread worldwide, and even before Lynch arrived at Mathew’s home Sunday with a box of reading material, strangers who had read the post had already sent their contributions.” For days their doorbell was ringing with contributions from places as far away as the UK, Australia, and India. 

Lynch and Flores’ story is a beautiful example of someone personally giving something to someone else and the blessing of this giving experience has touched many around the world. Lynch sacrificed his time to make sure that Flores has something to read. That is what giving is all about. Giving is about the other person, their needs and how we can help them. Would this story be as wonderful and touching if Lynch had just given Flores some more advertisements to read? Or if he’d given him some clothes, even though it was books he needed? Obviously not. The blessing of giving goes beyond just handing stuff over that we don’t need or just because we want to seem nice. Giving is about understanding the need and giving from a place of love. 

Receiving: This fourth and last principle of living the law of abundance is kind of surprising because the law of abundance is about giving not receiving, right? Wrong. The law of abundance is about both. The law of abundance can’t work if people are unwilling to receive the gifts or blessings they are given by others, can it? No it can’t. We must set aside our pride and graciously receive the help that we are given. Sometimes that can be hard. 

It takes putting pride aside and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to help. Vulnerability isn’t weakness, it’s about wholehearted living. In an audio book called “The Power of Vulnerability” given by Brene Brown, we learn that vulnerability is about being able to open yourself up to people and accept that sometimes we don’t have all the answers and sometimes we need help. But also that it’s okay to be vulnerable with people. It’s how we make connections and how we feel a deep sense of love and belonging. She states, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” We all feel the need to belong and to feel as though we matter. But to do that, to make connections we must be vulnerable. She states, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness.” We must be vulnerable to make that connection with others. Accepting help is a huge step in vulnerability. 

When we are in need, when we are struggling, it’s okay for us to ask for help. Those that love us or those that are open to loving us will not mind our vulnerability and will accept us for all that we are. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Vulnerability is a step in the direction of living a more abundant and fulfilling life. We must be vulnerable to accept help when we need it. That is how we live the law of abundance. 

So to review, the four basic principles of the law of abundance are first, understanding. We must seek to understand those we serve before we serve them to truly see the need. The second principle is love. We must love those we serve. Truly living the law of abundance isn’t about just giving stuff or doing things because we feel obligated to, it requires love. The third principle is giving, even in small ways, giving is a basic principle of the law of abundance as wet is to water. Last but not least, the final principle of the law of abundance is receiving. To receive we must be vulnerable and willing to ask for help. For the law of abundance to work, for giving to work, for love to work, for understanding to work we must be open to accepting the cyclical flow of the law of abundance. If we can’t accept help and love, others can’t give. These four principles are like the fantastic four of the law of abundance. A team of principles that can change the world if only we live the law of abundance.  

Homework: I would suggest trying to do one thing each day that hits on one of the four principles. For the first principle, have a conversation with someone and try to practice empathetic listening. Pay attention to body language, sounds, behavior, and feelings you have while talking to them. For the second principle, do something nice for someone to show that you love them. Serve them in some way, even if it’s small. For principle three and another day, look for a way to give to someone. Whether it’s giving to fill a spiritual need, a physical need, or an emotional need, what is something you can do to give to another human? 

As a homework assignment for the last principle I would suggest listening to Brene Brown’s book The Power of Vulnerability. Not only will you learn about vulnerability. But you may also learn so much more about how to live wholeheartedly or live more abundantly. If listening to the book is not possible, maybe just do some studying on Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability. Then look for opportunities to receive help or allow someone to give to you.  

The Need for the Law of Abundance 

September 11, 2001 two planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, one was flown into the Pentagon, and one crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania — 2,977 innocent people died that day and more than 6,000 were injured. December 26, 2004 a tsunami tore through at least eleven countries. 100 foot waves caused by the second largest earthquake ever recorded, the Indian Ocean tsunami claimed the lives of nearly 230,000 people who were either missing, killed or presumed dead. August 29, 2005 a category 3 hurricane, infamously named Katrina, blasted through the Gulf Coast, causing damage from Florida to Texas. But when the levees failed, it was New Orleans that saw the most catastrophic results of the storm. Hurricane Katrina covered 80 percent of the city in floodwaters for weeks after and claimed the lives of 1,836 innocent people. 

January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the humble country of Haiti, killing what is roughly estimated as 100,000 to 300,000 people, the total number still unknown and debated, and leaving 1.6 million people homeless. December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut a disturb teen fatally shot 20 young children and six adult staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary school causing what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. August 17, 2017, tied with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest cyclone on record, Hurricane Harvey hit land. It was the first major hurricane since 2005’s Wilma to arrive in the United States. Hurricane Harvey caused 107 confirmed deaths. October 1, 2017 a crazed man opened gunfire on a group of concertgoers on the Las Vegas strip attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival. After firing 1,100 rounds into the crowd a crazed gunman left 58 people dead and 851 injured. It is now recognized as one of the deadliest mass shootings in the history of the United States.

In the past seventeen years, these were some of the most notable and influential news stories. Every day, we read in the news of other, less known, yet still heartbreaking tales of tragedy. It seems at every turn, every second of the day, in every part of the world there is something to find sorrow in–pain that fills the soul to breaking, heartache that no medicine can cure. These tragedies, although different in their source and each one unlike the other in the pain that was caused, all contain one basic truth–we need each other. Need with a capital N. We need something better, greater, more profound. Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher and former clinical psychologist, and academic once said of life, “We’re all just walking each other home.” 

What a beautiful and powerful image, and it mirrors the sentiment of a common saying and poem that you may recognize; No Man is an Island. The poem written by John Donne (1572-1631) an English poet, masterfully paints an image of what this life is all about. 

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” 

No man is an island. We are all “involved in mankind.” We should have each other’s six, we should be there to hold each other up. We need each other and we have needs that should be filled by each other. Whether that’s friendship, a helping hand, a good laugh, or someone to help carry the load, we have needs that should and could be met by each other. 

William George Jordan, an American editor, essayist, and lecturer, wrote a book called, The Crown of Individuality in which he shares what he calls “the hungers of life”– four basic needs or hungers that we have as humans. Those hungers are known as heart-hunger, mind-hunger, body-hunger, and soul-hunger. He states, “Hunger is the voice of a void. It is Nature demanding her rights. It is the restless insistent cry of an instinct, clamoring to be satisfied. There are four great hungers of life, –body-hunger, mind-hunger, heart-hunger, and soul-hunger. They are all real; all need recognition; all need feeding.” These hungers are a basic human need that all need to be fed. 

I do not intend to diminish such complicated pain and tragedies as shared above, to a simple answer. There is so much more to the ‘why’ in a lot of them. Nature cannot be reasoned. However, I do believe that if we had a little more of these needs or hungers met, tragedies in general would diminish significantly. 

Jordan goes on to say that one of the most important hungers to feed and the one we’re all starving in, is heart-hunger. He states, “The claim of a hungry body has right of way over all other needs. It requires no credentials, no argument, no advocate. It holds a first mortgage on the sympathy and aid of humanity. But the hunger for food while being most irrepressible, most immediately compelling, has no monopoly on the hungers of life. In the world to-day there are in reality more people starving for love than for bread. There is more heart-hunger than body-hunger– more unsatisfied yearning for sympathy, affection, companionship, kindness, and appreciation than for food.” The heart-hunger need, the need for love and appreciation, the need for love and belonging, or even just simple kindness is most needed today. Right now. 

The greatest thing about the law of abundance is that this law fills those needs. All of them. Because the law of abundance is so versatile, you can live the law of abundance by giving blood, sharing time with a friend or a stranger, donating necessary items to those in need. To live the law of abundance and fill these hunger needs we can donate food to the body-hungry, we can provide funding for scholarships to the mind-hungry, we can be a shoulder to cry on for the heart-hungry, and we can pray with those who are soul-hungry and in need of spiritual lifting. If we are blessed with an abundance of something and share it, that is living the law of abundance.

Many people are already living the law of abundance. But imagine for a moment if everyone lived it. What could be accomplished? What pain could be alleviated? How could the world be changed in a positive way? Take one moment, one simple second and look at the world around you. There is good to be had here. We just need to find it, or build it, or create it by living the law of abundance. If we’re all just walking each other home let’s make sure we all make it home safely. Because we are all involved in mankind. 

Suffering man covering his face by handkerchief while his counselor giving him glass of water

Homework: I would suggest finding someone with a need and discover what that need is. There are many, many people in the world who have needs. So find someone and discover their need. If you can, fill it. Sometimes it may not be specifically that need but something smaller to help alleviate that need. For instance, if someone is struggling financially but you don’t really have the funds to give them money, find a way that you can alleviate that suffering. Bring them dinner one night, offer to watch their kids for free so they can have a night alone, send them a message of encouragement, or say “hi” with a smile to brighten their day. For the law of abundance to work, sometimes that’s all it takes. 

Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset: How to Live in Abundance

In Medium, an online magazine containing articles on pretty much any topic under the sun, former race car driver Rafael Sarandeses shares his perspective on the abundance vs scarcity mindset. He tells a story about his son sharing a favorite toy and how that simple act of kindness from a child reminded him of the power of giving. Giving can create a more fulfilled life for everyone. But to give we must overcome the mindset of scarcity. Sarandeses shares his thoughts on scarcity and abundance, he says, “The paradigm of scarcity is one in which you consider life to be one big pie. A global zero-sum game. If someone takes a piece, then there is less pie for everybody else. Your gain is my loss. People in this mindset are defensive. Worried about protecting what they have more than they are willing to grow out of their self-imposed boundaries to achieve more. 

People living in an abundance mindset believe, instead, that there is enough out there for everybody. That a partnership may be better than going solo. [ . . . ] That decision making, profits and good ideas are worth sharing to build something bigger than themselves.” So a scarcity mindset is believing that there just isn’t enough in the world for everyone and if I gain, you lose and vice versa. But an abundance mindset is understanding that there is enough for everyone in the world, your gain is my gain, and because we are giving and loving, we both win. 

According to researcher Brene Brown, we live in a scarcity culture. We go to bed thinking we didn’t get enough done that day, we wake up thinking we didn’t get enough sleep, and then we go throughout our day believing we don’t have enough time to get things done. This is a scarcity mindset. It’s also what Brown calls our culture of ‘never enough’. I’m gonna refrain from singing The Greatest Showman popular song “Never Enough” just know that it’s going through my head right now.  

Continually, we live in a culture where every second of our day is spent believing that there isn’t enough. Brown also talks about how this culture seeps into our own belief about ourselves. That we constantly fall into the false idea that we aren’t beautiful enough, strong enough, brave enough, or smart enough. Of course many things are to blame for this mindset. Media, social media, Hollywood, the commercial industry, all of these things make money off of us believing the idea that we aren’t enough or that there isn’t enough for everyone. Scarcity mindset feeds off of our fears and to fully live an abundant lifestyle we must overcome the scarcity mindset. 

So what is something we can do to overcome the scarcity mindset? Well, it comes down to a principle that many people have pointed out. It’s a religious principle but also a simple principle that many people practice as a way to recognize the abundance in our lives–count your blessings. When we take the time to stop and look at what we actually have, we can see how blessed we are and how much abundance exists in our lives. 

In his website MichaelHyatt.com, Michael Hyatt, author, speaker, and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, shares this same idea of how to overcome the ‘perceived’ scarcity mindset. In an article titled Perceived Scarcity in a World of Outrageous Abundance he approaches just how much the scarcity mindset can rob us of living abundantly. He states, “Regardless of our culture of perceived scarcity–or our individual circumstances–we all can point to assets, blessings, and gifts in our lives. That’s why I say perceived scarcity. It’s not real. Yes, there are a million things we don’t have. But there are a million that we do. If we can see through the right lens, we have all been given more than we can possibly ask or imagine. That lens is called gratitude, and it’s a lens that amplifies everything good in our lives instead of causing it to shrink to insignificance. While it’s the easiest thing to fall into a scarcity mentality, gratitude helps us cultivate a mindset of abundance.” To summarize, what Hyatt is saying is that if we just take a second to look around us through a lens of gratitude we will be able to see the abundance. It’s like putting on those glasses that you used to get in the kid’s cereal when you were younger. You couldn’t see the hidden message on the back of the cereal box until you put on those special glasses. Well, that’s looking at your life through the gratitude lens. Suddenly the message isn’t that there isn’t enough or that we don’t have or aren’t enough, the hidden message comes through loud and clear–there is enough. We are enough. We have enough.  

Looking through a lens of gratitude is also a similar idea to getting some perspective. Sometimes as humans we can have a tendency to lose perspective on what is real and what isn’t. Therefore, it becomes necessary to gain a little perspective. For instance, with the trials we go through in our lives, sometimes the pain and heartache can feel so deep and suffocating but then when we compare the bad things that have happened to us to the good things, we see that life isn’t as bad as we think. This is not to diminish the pain that we are going through. But it can help us to gain some perspective. 

This is something that UCLA Medical School psychiatrist Dr Stephen Marmer addresses in a recent video he made for Prager University. In this video titled Building Resilience: 5 Ways to a Better Life, Dr Marmer establishes five ways that we can become more resilient. The first thing he suggests is to first get some perspective. He states, “First, get some perspective. Step back and assess your situation with as much objectivity as you can. ‘How bad is this problem?’ ‘Have I overstated it?’ Sometimes my patients think an unhappy occurrence is much more serious than it really is — usually because it’s amplified by evoking a painful childhood issue. Often getting perspective is as simple as asking yourself this question: ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ Usually you’ll discover the worst thing isn’t that bad – and isn’t even likely to happen.” So we can see that gaining perspective on a situation, as Dr Marmer states, helps us to be more resilient and can also help us to overcome the scarcity mindset.  

The second way that we can be more resilient that Dr Marmer talks about is comparison. Not comparing our stuff to other people’s stuff but comparing the good in our own life to the bad in our own life–also known as looking through a lens of gratitude. He says, “Second, compare the undeserved bad things that have happened to you with the unearned good things that have happened to you. When I ask my patients to do this, they invariably conclude that the unearned good in their life far outweighs the undeserved bad. I’d say the ratio is at least 10 to 1. In my own case, I didn’t earn the incredibly good fortune of my grandparents moving to America, or that life-saving penicillin was available to me in my childhood when I was sick. I could go on and on. And so could you. In light of this, maybe things aren’t so bad after all. In fact, they’re probably pretty good.” In summary, he states that to be more resilient we must weigh the good unearned things in our life to the underserved bad. So the best way to be resilient is to count our blessings, focus on the good and compare the good to the bad. Without a doubt the good will outweigh the bad. 

Therefore, counting our blessings (i.e. looking through a lens of gratitude, i.e. comparing the good to the bad) will help us to be more resilient and overcome the scarcity mindset which will help us to live a more abundant life. 

However, having gratitude isn’t just about having an attitude of gratitude as is so often the catchy phrase people share. I believe that to live a fully abundant life, we shouldn’t just have an attitude of gratitude but actually live gratitude. This is something that Brene Brown talks about in her book The Power of Vulnerability. She addresses the idea that many of us can say we have an attitude of gratitude but do we actually practice gratitude. An example that she gives is Yoga. She comically shares that she can have an attitude of Yoga–for example; she has a Yoga mat, Yoga shoes, and even lives in Yoga pants but she doesn’t actually practice Yoga. This is how having an attitude of gratitude is different than actually practicing gratitude. 

In a video interview that Brene Brown did for The Center for Spirituality and Healing, Brown talks a little more about the difference between having an attitude of gratitude verses practicing gratitude. She says, “When I say practice gratitude, I don’t mean kind of like the attitude of gratitude or feeling grateful. I mean practicing gratitude. These folks shared in common a tangible gratitude practice. They either kept gratitude journals, some of them did interesting things like at one, two, three, four, like at 12:34 everyday they said something out loud that they were grateful for.” Talking about the people from her research who were practicing gratitude, Brown shares some simple, yet effective ways that people practice gratitude. She goes on, “One of the things that we do, like we say grace at dinner. So now, after grace we go around and everyone in my family says something that they are grateful for.” To summarize Brene Brown, practicing gratitude means doing something tangible every day. 

Getting ourselves out of the scarcity mindset isn’t going to be easy. It will take work. We are pummeled every second of every minute of every day in our lives by it. When we watch TV, when we listen to music (sorry Loren Allred), in the stores we shop, even driving passed billboards. Scarcity mindset is everywhere and it’s tempting us to fall prey to it’s trap. However, if we want to live an abundant life, a truly abundant life, we must overcome that scarcity mindset. The law of abundance is a wonderful thing but there is no room for scarcity within it. 

Homework: I think it would be essential for us to practice gratitude. There are many ways to do this and you can find the best one that works for you. But some great examples on how to practice gratitude this week are set an alarm on your phone each day to remind you to say or think of something you are grateful for, whether it’s something that happened that day or something for which you’re just grateful. Another way is to start a gratitude journal. Make sure to set some kind of reminder to write in it until you create the habit of writing but take a moment each day to write something down. Or when you feel yourself getting into the scarcity mindset, count to ten and then look at the issue through the lens of gratitude, weigh the bad and the good (maybe even writing some things down), and gain some perspective.

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources: 

Source for principle 1: Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 1989. Print. 

Source for principle 2: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/why-showing-your-customers-the-love-is-more-important-than-the-sale/ 

Source for principle 3: Source: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865633288/Sandy-mailmans-plea-for-books-gets-worldwide-response.html 

Source: Jordan, William George. The Crown of Individuality. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1909. Print. https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Crown_of_Individuality.html?id=kDIYAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q=63&f=false 

Source for principle 4: Brown, Brene. The Power of Vulnerability. Narrated by Brene Brown, audiobook, Sounds True, 2012. Audible.com 

Rafael Sarandeses quote: https://betterhumans.coach.me/a-guide-to-the-science-of-giving-ba007d9304ff 

Michael Hyatt quote:  https://betterhumans.coach.me/a-guide-to-the-science-of-giving-ba007d9304ff 

Dr Stephen Marmer quote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPMqMJMiBiA 
Dr Brene Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IjSHUc7TXM

Intentional Living

What is Intentional Living and Why Should You Want to Live an Intentional Life?

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

–Nora Roberts

At the beginning of a new year, many people take the time to set New Year’s Resolutions and goals for ways they can improve themselves and be better in the coming year and into the foreseeable future. Although, goals and resolutions can be made at any time, they are most commonly made and talked about at the beginning of the new year. While many resolutions and goals are made with the best of intentions, many are merely words on a page with not much thought given a week into the new year, or a few days after being made. In fact, a majority of people go so far as to forget their resolutions and goals entirely, never to look at them again after they are written down.  So, why is it that so many people take the time and effort to make and write down their resolutions only to forget about them shortly thereafter? Many, myself included, like to write down goals and resolutions as a means to try and find a way to give our life purpose, to improve and become better; yet shortly thereafter we return to normal life, not giving a second thought to the goals and resolutions we made for the new year.

One way to improve and to structure your goals, with the intention of giving your life purpose is to implement the idea of intentional living. If you are like me, and many others, you might be wondering, “what is intentional living?  Why should I try to live intentionally?”. I am so glad you asked! There are many reasons and perks as to why you should consider implementing an intentional lifestyle. The idea of living an intentional life, is very freeing and exciting, as it helps you to find and provide direction and purpose to your life, all while living your best life. It helps you to remember your goals long after the new year has passed, making your goals and resolutions more than mere words on a page.

The concept of living an intentional life is meant to help you be more aware of what you do and why you do it. This can apply to every aspect of your life—education, career, family, relationships, etc. All of this is intended to help you to be more aware of your choices, ultimately helping you to live the life that you want. Whether you have short term or long-term goals, living intentionally can help you achieve these goals and stay accountable to yourself and others.

What is Intentional Living?

Intentional living has been defined countless different ways, by more people than you can count. The way in which I found, intentional living defined, that resonated the most with me, at its most basic definition is: “intentional living is being able to answer why in regards to why you do things in your life and being happy with the answer”. Sounds simple enough, but there is actually more to it. Intentional living is being aware of what you do in your life and why you do the things you do. This enables you to live your life with purpose, instead of just going through the motions; living with no direction or purpose.

This can pertain to every aspect of your life, from why you work where you work to why you socialize with whom you socialize with, and every other aspect of your life. Developing an understanding of your why, generally stems from your core beliefs and values. It also comes from the desire to live a life that is full of purpose. Be the author of your own story, and write a story of your life that you are proud of and leave behind the legacy you want to be remembered for.

It is not all that uncommon for young adults to find themselves at a crossroad where they aren’t sure what it is that they want to do with their life. It is at these pivotal moments that they have a decision to make regarding how they are going to live their life these decisions are vital for what direction their life will take and affect their future. Are they simply going to drift through life or are they going to live with purpose and intention? Although, it is most common among young adults, older adults who are going through, what is commonly referred to as a “mid-life crisis” also experience similar feelings of not knowing what to do with their lives. In these instances, there are a few things you can do, to determine the best course of action for moving forward. 

Start by thinking about and describing what a perfect day would look like in your life. Be sure to include every tiny detail, accounting for every second from the moment your eyes open up in the morning to when your head hits the pillow at night. What would you do to fill the time during the day? Who would you spend the day with? Where would you be, at home or on an exotic island?

While this might seem like a simple, almost too simple idea, but it does serve a couple of different purposes, to help you establish an intentional lifestyle. First, when you take the time to imagine every tiny detail of your perfect day, you are helping to clarify your priorities, values and dreams. You are able to determine the specifics of your perfect day, which provides you with direction to work towards. For example, if your perfect day consists of you traveling around the world—what exactly will that look like? Will you work hard while you’re younger so that you are able to travel the world without having to return to the office in between trips? Will you travel alone or with a significant other or friend? Knowing the specifics of your perfect day, will help you understand what it is exactly that you are working towards, while providing you with valuable motivation.

Secondly, when you picture your perfect day, use it to compare to your current “everyday” situation. How are they similar? How are they different? Are there any small changes that you could make now that will help you to work towards your ultimate perfect day? Are there things that you could let go of that will make it easier for you to achieve your perfect day? Use the idea of comparing the two days as motivation to help you get started making the changes and setting goals to work towards where you ultimately want your life to end up.

What You Need to Know About Living an Intentional Life

When you live your life with intention, you have direction and purpose to help you achieve the life that you want to live. This way of living also creates an environment for growth, peace and happiness. It forces you to reflect on your current life and make the necessary changes to get you living the life you want.

Intentional living does not mean you have everything for your whole life figured out at this very moment. Even though you probably don’t have every detail of your life figured out, living an intentional life does mean that you live with purpose; having purpose behind your daily actions. When implementing an intentional living lifestyle, it is good to keep in mind that you can choose to be intentional about the direction in which you want your life to go, without knowing what the final destination is going to be. Having an idea of where you want your life to go and what you want to achieve in your life, can give you a starting place, a jumping off point so to speak, even if you don’t have all the details figured out. This enables you to start working towards your ultimate end goals, while all the small details along the way work themselves out.

The driving force behind intentional living is your core values, which dictate how you choose the direction your life is going to go. Essentially this means that while you don’t need to have your entire life figured out, you do need to know what is most important to you. Every one’s core values are going to be different from one another. For most, their core values stem from society, their family, religious beliefs, and even television and media ideas of what is most important. Examples of core values can include loyalty, honesty, commitment, open-mindedness, and dependability. For me, my values include my relationships with others, family and furthering my education, just to name a few. Knowing what my core values are, has helped me to live my life with purpose. Ensuring that my choices lead me to achieving the goals  I have set for myself and for my future.

If you are unsure as to what your core values are, take some time to think about moments and times in your life when you experienced happiness or felt proud. Use these moments as jumping off points and dig a little deeper. Think about the things that are most important for you in your life. Are you concerned with building and maintaining relationships with others? What about honesty, integrity or loyalty—are they important to you? What traits would you consider yourself to possesses? For most people, when we are living and acting in accordance with our core values, we experience joy and pride, which help us to align our lives with what we believe to be of most importance. Using this as your guide, you can align your decisions when navigating your life to ultimately reach your goals in life.   

Once you have determined what your core values are, you are able to start living an intentional life. Using your core values and beliefs as your moral compass that provides you with valuable direction, focused on what is most important to you in your life.

How to Live an Intentional Life

There are a few easy steps you can incorporate into your daily life, to enable you to start living life with intention. These steps include:

·         Taking Responsibility

·         Making the Decision Daily

·         Embrace the Process

Taking Responsibility

The biggest part about living intentional is taking responsibility for actions, and outcomes. Because life can and is unpredictable, even the most well laid plans don’t always turn out the way we intended, anticipate or hope that they will. It is at these times that it is important to take responsibility, regarding how you will respond to instances beyond your control. Such as, the dream job you applied for but didn’t get, are you going to let that hinder you from applying for other jobs and turn you into a couch potato living in your parent’s basement? Or are you going to learn from it and apply for other jobs; keep putting yourself out there, ultimately discovering the end result is better than what you were originally seeking.  Once you learn how to take responsibility and learn how to adjust to the different hiccups, twist and turns life throws our way, the easier it will be for you to be able to adjust to the hiccups that come up and disrupt your plans. The easiest way to respond and take action to the various curveballs that life tends to throw our way is to take responsibility for your life.

Make the Decision Daily

aGoodCause - man bare feet in the sand and arrows

The whole idea behind intentional living is making the daily decision, the daily effort to live the life that you want to live. To live the life that pleases you and brings you the greatest joy. In order to achieve this, it will require you to consciously and subconsciously make the decision that will keep you focused on the bigger picture. Make decisions that will get you closer to achieving your ultimate goals for life; personal, professional, educational, etc. When you start to question the reason for why you make the decisions that you make, you will begin to see a change in your life as your life aligns with your goals.

Embrace the Process

After deciding to adopt an intuitive lifestyle it is important to remember that it doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a process, a personal journey that will take time, but yields tremendous results. Although there is no final destination, no finish line to cross, it is all about making and implementing small improvements throughout your life, adjusting your way of thinking so that it is in line with the life that you want to live.

For me, the idea and practice of living an intentional life came about after I hit an especially low point in my life. I was in my mid-twenties, I was happily married and had graduated college with my undergraduate degree. I had all these hopes and dreams for the future—career, family and life goals in general.

It wasn’t until I found myself without a job for the first time in a decade that I was forced to reevaluate my life and what it was that I wanted out of it. For about the first week, I found myself not really eating, hardly sleeping; I was barely surviving from day to day. It wasn’t until I realized that I had the power within myself to change my situation. I couldn’t wake up the next day and miraculously have my dream job, but I could do little things that would help me work towards finding and landing that job.

I started by doing small things that I knew I had control over, simple things such as making my bed, doing laundry and even deciding what to eat for dinner. It was these small acts that gave me the motivation I needed to look beyond my current situation and plan for my future.

I knew I needed to find a job, even if it wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted to work at for the rest of my life. What ended up happening is that I was able to find a temporary job, and through that job I made connections that helped me to eventually land a job in the future that was similar to the job that I had originally been striving for.

This was all possible because I asked myself, “why”. Why was I in my current predicament and why did I want out of it? Once I knew the answer to these questions, I was then able to develop a plan of living intentionally so that I could change my life to what I wanted it to be. It started with me recognizing what my core values were, and what I ultimately wanted out of my life.

Learning to live an intentional life isn’t difficult, but it does take some time and work on your part. You have to be willing to make a change or multiple changes, and live with purpose. Stop doing things just to do them, do things because you have a reason to do them. For me, it was making my bed every day because that was one thing in my life that I was in control of at that moment, and it set the tone for the rest of the day.

Implementing an Intentional Lifestyle

 Implementing an intentional lifestyle into your daily life is quite easy to do, once you make the decision to do so. It all starts with having the desire that take your current life, and elevate it to what it can be, what you ultimately want it to be. Start by asking yourself the hard questions about why you do what you do with your life, and what you want to do and achieve. A common question that everyone hears all growing up, and into adulthood, is “where do you see yourself in five years?” ten years?”. Using this type of questioning, ask yourself, where you picture you and your life to be. Do you picture yourself to be retired, living on a private island, or perhaps you see yourself as the CEO of a fortune 500 company that you started?

Not only do you need to determine the direction that you want your life to go, you need to figure out the “why” for the ultimate vision you have for your life. Why do you want to retire on a private island? Why do you want to be the CEO? Why do you want your company to be a fortune 500 company? Why do you picture yourself, where you ultimately want to be in the future?

In addition to being able to answer the “why” in regards to the choices and decisions that you make for your life. It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think regarding the way you are living your life. Most people are too busy trying to make a life that others will approve of, instead of trying to live their best life. When you focus on your own life, you don’t have time to worry about what others are doing or thinking; instead you are able to achieve your own goals.

Challenge

Now that you know a little bit more about intentional living, hopefully, you like me, are now inspired to implement this practice into your life. Set goals for your life, determine what your “why” is and what you can do to achieve what you want out of life. Figure out the “why” for your life and make it happen!  Set yourself up for some small wins, little things that you can accomplish with minimal effort daily. This helps to boost your confidence in deciding to live an intentional life and knowing you can reach the goals you have set for yourself.

Remember living an intentional lifestyle is not a list of checkboxes that need to be checked off. It is a continual process, something that evolves and changes as your ideas and goals for life change. Keep asking yourself “why” you do or want things in your life, and be happy with your answers.  This will lead to you living an intentional life with purpose that is unique to you and what you want out of life.

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

“4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living.” Simply Fiercely, 14 May 2017, www.simplyfiercely.com/4-creative-exercises-to-inspire-intentional-living/.

“The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life.” Becoming Minimalist, 25 Sept. 2014, www.becomingminimalist.com/the-helpful-guide-to-living-an-intentional-life/.

“An Intro to Intentional Living: 7 Things You Need to Know.” Simply Fiercely, 28 Mar. 2019, www.simplyfiercely.com/an-intro-to-intentional-living/.

“Intentional Living: What It Is and How It Works • Simple & Soul.” Simple & Soul, 23 Feb. 2017, simpleandsoul.com/intentional-living/.

“3 Simple Actions You Can Take To Live An Intentional Life.” Life Goals Mag, 29 June 2017, lifegoalsmag.com/3-simple-actions-can-take-live-intentional-life/. 

Real Life Philanthropist: Angel Locsin

Recently, Forbes Magazine released their “Heroes of Philanthropy 2019” list for Asia. On this list were various individuals ranging from CEO’s to actors and singers to foundation heads and other reputable positions. Everyone who made it on the list, is a citizen of countries or territories in the Asia-Pacific, or are a long-time resident of the region.

In order to make it on this prestigious list, Forbes considered dozens of various different candidates, taking a close look at their monetary contributions, the level of their involvement and the reach of their philanthropic efforts.  Among those who made this prestigious list are: China’s Jack Ma, a recipient of the Malcolm S. Forbes Lifetime Achievement award following his resignation as chairman of Alibaba in order to be able to devote more time to philanthropy. Australian billionaire Judith Neilson, who established an institute dedicated to supporting independent journalism. Also, on this year’s list, is one of the Philippines’ most famous actresses—Angel Locsin.

Locsin has been recognized for her generous donations and the aid she has rendered to those affected by natural disasters and violence. Following the devastating earthquakes that hit Mindanao in October, Locsin donated 1 Million Pesos towards disaster relief. In addition to her monetary donations, Locsin also helped to distribute truckloads of relief supplies to those who were affected by the disaster.

Photo by : Rappler

This is not the first instance in which Locsin has demonstrated philanthropy characteristics towards those in the Philippines. In 2017, when the Philippine military and the Islamist rebels in Marawi, Locsin “joined the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in donating and distributing food packets and school supplies to tens of thousands of displaced victims.”. In response to her efforts to render aid, Locsin was quoted as saying: “These are urgent times when we have to act as fast as we can to save lives and rebuild communities, and we don’t even have to think why”.

Another example of the philanthropy mindset that Locsin possess, is back in September 2019, prior to attending the annual ABS-CBN Ball, Locsin donated the money that she would have spent to purchase a gown to wear to the event to the Bantay Bata.  

Over the course of the last decade, Locsin has donated over 15 Million Pesos to support various causes, including educational scholarships for students, supporting economic and political rights of indigenous people and ending violence against women and children. It is reported that her philanthropic efforts have helped roughly 500 different families that have been directly affected by some of the Philippines largest disasters—Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009, Typhoon Habagat in 2012, and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013—one of the deadliest storms on record, leaving 6,300 dead.

Aside from all of her monetary donations and charity work, Locsin has also worked to inspire many of her millions of followers on social media to also give back to others in need. Locsin is quoted as saying, “It’s like taking little steps towards substantive, holistic change for the future of the next generations. The only motivation we need is being part of humanity.”.

Even though, Locsin is a famous actress and has been able to donate millions of Pesos to aid those of the Philippines, it just goes to show that everyone can be a philanthropist. Whether it be through monetary donations, service of time and talents, or showing compassion to those less fortunate than us, there are ample opportunities in our own communities where we can be a philanthropist and make the world a better place.  

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gracechung/2019/12/02/asias-2019-heroes-of-philanthropy-catalysts-for-change/#1cd8934f6d98

https://news.abs-cbn.com/entertainment/12/03/19/angel-locsin-hailed-as-one-of-forbes-asias-heroes-of-philanthropy?fbclid=IwAR0_2tf62hbEmj1Bh_UxVb4HtbHecONlvYQTss2DOgc9l6P5rDWiUG8HAK0

https://m.inquirer.net/entertainment/109067

The Sixth Sacrifice

During the holiday season, we often think more about heavenly things; looking beyond the wrapping paper and the decorations.  We turn to the Bible, and we ponder the stories of Jesus. In Luke, chapter 2 of the King James Version, we read about one incredible account,and we  recognize it for what it really is; A beautiful moment in history ushering in a change in sacrifice, and ushering in a higher law of love! The birth of Jesus Christ and the miracle that it was, give us moments to reflect and celebrate. 

This is a holy story of both the life of Jesus, and also of Mary and Joseph.  Indeed every person whose life was touched by Jesus shares a part of the tale I am about to tell.  

Before I begin, please note the use of the word “Sacrifice.”  It dates back in history to ancient times, as both what we know as a noun, and a verb.  As a noun, in the late thirteenth century, sacrifice meant “offering of something (especially a life) to a deity as an act of propitiation or homage;” mid-fourteenth century., “that which is offered in sacrifice,” from Old French sacrifise “sacrifice, offering” (12c.), from Latin sacrificium, from sacrificus “performing priestly functions or sacrifices,” from sacra “sacred rites” (properly neuter plural of sacer “sacred;” + combining form of facere “to make, to do”. Latin sacrificium is glossed in Old English by ansegdniss. The “act of giving up one thing for another; something given up for the sake of another” is first recorded 1590’s. 

To use the word as a verb, you may read as early as the beginning of time.  In the book of Moses we read that Adam built an altar unto the Lord for a sacrifice.  He sacrificed. “To offer something to a deity, as a sacrifice, meaning “surrender, give up, suffer to be lost.”

And now, let me begin our tale. It is one you have heard parts of.  I call it, The “Sixth Sacrifice.”

Long ago, a fair maiden, betrothed to a man both kind and of noble lineage was visited by an angel of God.  This Angel, Gabriel by name, told her to not be afraid. She had a special calling in life. She was to be the mother of the Savior of the world.  We know her name as Mary. Mary was asked to be a sacrifice. In those moments of reflection, it surely must have crossed her mind the overwhelming task before her.  As a young woman, her life would change forever. According to Jewish law, she should even be put to death for carrying a child out of wedlock. She knew that Joseph, her betrothed had every right to have her stoned.  What was her response? “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

Young Mary, merely a child herself, submitted to the scrutiny of a woman of “ill-repute” and faced divorcement, and death from her betrothed in order to fulfill her sacrificial role.  Imagine the strength of her heart! Mary was the first sacrifice for the lamb. She gave her will.  

Joseph we know, was to be Mary’s husband.  When he found out what had happened his immediate thought was to take her privately away and divorce her.  They were legally husband and wife through this period of time, even though he had not yet paid the bride price.  Joseph was then visited by an angel, and was told that he should take her as a wife. Immediately Joseph followed the council of God.  He too accepted the sacrifices that were to come to them. Joseph was the second sacrifice for the lamb. He gave up his pride. 

We know the rest of the story.  It is found in the book of Luke.  The Savior of the world was born into the world.  What you may not know is how our view of the story dims parts that made it all a truly symbolic experience. 

Stone is the most common building material in Jerusalem.  We associate the birth of the Savior with a wooden manger filled with hay.  This is most likely NOT the case. The manger would have been made of stone, and the Judean hills are grass covered.  There is no need to store food, because the animals are put out to eat. Thus, the manger was probably a stone slab, slightly indented to hold water.  But, for the sake of argument, we could include the hay. It adds to the concept that we too must go to him who was laid in a manger, to give us spiritual food.  

aGoodCause - Mary with baby jesus

Jesus was wrapped in swaddling bands.  This too is no coincidence. These bands were lovingly prepared by Mary, and as any young woman of her time, would have been embroidered with the lineage of the two families.  At the marriage of Mary and Joseph these bands would have been wrapped around their hands to symbolize the joining of two families. Mary’s lineage bands would have represented the house of Judah which was symbolized by the lamb and the lion or the tree of life.  Joseph’s bands would have represented the royal house of David, and contained the royal colors of blue and white. The symbolic significance of swaddling bands was so important that the embroidery on each side of the swaddling bands had to match exactly, with “right” and “wrong” sides indistinguishable. This symbolized the complete harmony of inner and outward life, which was appropriate for the child that they would be wrapped around. 

The birth of the Son of God was the third  sacrifice, which came as a gift from the Almighty, wherein he [sacrificed] His Son to come to earth and be not only a leader, but our literal Savior.  Jesus Christ would spend his life learning the skills of a carpenter, and caring for those around Him. He would spend the last three years of His life ministering and preparing the way… to be a sacrifice for all.  In the end, even the Almighty, God the Father, had to turn away, that He might not witness the agony of the Savior. He gave His Son completely as His perfect Lamb. 

But I get ahead of myself.  

The shepherds on the hillside were the fourth sacrifice.  They were visited by the angel of the Lord, and they were told to spread the word of the birth of the Savior.  These shepherds witnessed the heavens open, and they said amongst themselves, ”Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” They went immediately, and found the little family.  The shepherds sacrificed their time and livelihood. They left their flocks– to witness their own introduction into the flock of the Lamb of God. What beautiful mirroring this is. 

The fifth sacrifice came from the wise men from the East.  These “magi” as we may know them as, had studied the heavens, and the books of the earth to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.  When they saw the star appear in the East, they set out to seek the Christ child who should come. There quest would take time. It would lead them to a wicked king who sought to destroy the child. It would also bring them visions by angels to travel home another route, and it would bring their sacrificial gifts to the Christ child. 

Gold, a gift for royalty, or for presenting to a King.  Frankincense was also a significant gift. It was used in temple worship. It was mixed with the oil that was used to anoint the high priests of Israel. It was part of the meal offerings that were offerings of thanksgiving and praise to God. In presenting this gift the wise men pointed to Christ as our great High Priest, the one whose whole life was acceptable and well pleasing to His Father.

Myrrh was meant for royalty in the case of death, and used for embalming .  Presenting the young child with Myrrh was symbolic that the wise men were giving up their sins, to be cleansed. It was a gift of faith. We do not know precisely what the wise men may have known or guessed about Christ’s ministry, but we do know that the Old Testament again and again foretold His suffering.

The sixth sacrifice brings us to modern time, yet spans the eternities.  Look to the symbols we surround ourselves with at Christmas time. A fir tree, representing unending life.  A star, or angel atop– in remembrance of the heralding in of our Lord’s birth. Lights upon the branches, reminds us that Christ should be the light of our life, and that we should look to Him to light our way.  Candy canes are shaped like a shepherds crook, and swirled with red and white, representing purity, and the atoning blood of the Savior. The gifts placed under the tree become symbols- not merely toys and accessories to our busy lives.  They represent another gift. Precious. Life giving. One which cannot be bested or improved upon. The sixth sacrifice is the one of the lamb, and we surround ourselves with it each year at the end of December. The sixth sacrifice gave all.  The lamb. The Son of God. Jesus Christ was meant to come as a sacrifice, [noun] and BE sacrificed. His love for all mankind is what we feel at this season. In his life, and in his teachings Christ showed us how to sacrifice of our pride, our will, our time, our all, and to do it with a heart full of mercy and love. Just as a firstling lamb, taken before the high priest to be sacrificed, his was a life unblemished.  

The perfect sixth sacrifice. 

The story does not end here my friends.  There is another beautiful seventh sacrifice.  It is the one we lay before the feet of the Lord.  Our sacrifice to try to be better people. To love as He would love.  To treat all men with kindness and respect. To better the lives of the less fortunate.   That we may turn around and bless others, thus continuing the story of the Lamb.  

In the end, the “Sixth Sacrifice was the Lamb” is one of perfection. We desire the carols, the tinsel, the family gatherings, the presents under the tree.  What we NEED is to find our place in the story of God. My friends, happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and let’s make this New Year one where we love ourselves and others as the Savior would.    

Author:  Katie Stevens

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice

www.lds.org/study/scriptures/pgp/moses/5?lang=eng

https://theisraelboutique.com/what-is-jerusalem-stone.html

https://www.lds.org/callings/music/savior-of-the-world/historical-and-cultural-background?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/study/scriptures/nt/luke/2?lang=eng

Giving Tuesday: Making a Difference in Your Community

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.”

–Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of the United Nations

This time of year, can be busy, stressful, expensive, and for some hard and depressing. It is also the time of year, when people feel inspired to bless and help others around them who aren’t as fortunate as they are. You will often see people donating spare change to Salvation Army’s Santa, Angel Tree’s, Sub for Santa projects, and Giving Tuesday campaigns. Additionally, top fundraisers, philanthropists, and nonprofits select aGoodCause.com to champion their Giving
Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns.

It is with this spirit of giving, that the idea of “Giving Tuesday” was born. According to givingtuesday.org, Giving Tuesday is defined as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world”. Simply stated, the idea is to inspire people to make a difference in their own community through generosity, giving and collaborating with others.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday, was simply to encourage people to do good. Officially created in 2012, Giving Tuesday has grown into a global idea that motivates and inspires people from all across the globe to give and contribute to making a difference.

Studies conducted by givingtuesday.org, state that those who participate in Giving Tuesday, 82-percent are inspired to be more giving throughout their life and not just on Giving Tuesday. It is this ripple effect that the Giving Tuesday movement envisioned from the very beginning.

About Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. So, Giving Tuesday 2019, is December 3, 2019, starting at midnight, local time and running for a full 24-hours. When millions of people work together to give and make a difference through generosity, kindness and giving. Although, the Giving Tuesday is celebrated after Thanksgiving annually, generosity and kindness can be spread and shared through everyday life and actions.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday is to provide a positive response to the hyper-consumerism idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, by lifting those around us, instead of emptying our bank accounts on material things for the holidays. Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to make a real difference and kick- start the charitable holiday season by doing something small, kind and generous for someone that you may or may not know, so that they too can enjoy the holiday season.

Here is how it works: find a charitable or non-profit organization that you support and make a monetary donation on Giving Tuesday. If you can’t afford to make a financial donation, find another way in which you can support an organization of your choice. One thing that makes Giving Tuesday different from many other organizations, is they have nearly 200 community campaigns that are organized all across the United States, and growing across the globe. These community campaigns are organized either geographically or are a coalition of nonprofits that come together on Giving Tuesday to rally around a cause to garner community-wide support.

aGoodCause - Volunteer sharing food with poor African child outdoors

Giving back to others does not have to cost a fortune, or put you in financial ruins. In fact, giving back and making a difference can be as simple as saying “Hello” to someone you come across, giving someone a smile to brighten their day, or dropping spare change into a donation jar. Participating in Giving Tuesday 2019 doesn’t have to cost you any money either, simple acts of kindness, such as, paying someone a compliment, holding open the door for someone, smiling and saying hello are all ways in which you can participate, spreading kindness without spending extra money this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday Participation Ideas


One of the best parts about Giving Tuesday is that every person, regardless of age or where they live can participate. Getting kids involved in Giving Tuesday is a great way to introduce them to service and kindness at a young age that they can carry with them throughout their entire life. On givingtuesdaykids.org website, there is an entire page dedicated to different ideas and ways in which kids can get involved in Giving Tuesday, often inspiring their peers and adults in their lives to participate as well. In fact, givingtuesday.org states that “younger generations are the ones most likely to participate in Giving Tuesday”, with a whopping 67-percent of those who participate being between the ages of 18 and 34.

Participating and giving back as part of the Giving Tuesday movement is fun and rewarding all on its own, but it is even better when you are able to participate with your friends and family. Create a post and events on your social media accounts, inviting and encouraging your friends, family and followers to participate as well. The more people who participate and contribute to Giving Tuesday the more
successful it will be. One person alone can’t make a huge difference, but together, we can all work to change the world!

There are many different ways in which you can get involved and participate in Giving Tuesday, with a majority of those who participate, doing so in more than one way. One of the biggest ways in which people participate in Giving Tuesday is through a registered Giving Tuesday 2019 campaign. Since its founding in 2012, Giving Tuesday has raised over $1 Billion in online donations in the United States
alone. Top fundraisers, philanthropists, and nonprofits select aGoodCause.com to champion their Giving Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns.

With Giving Tuesday 2019 coming up shortly, I challenge you to find a way that you can giving back to your community. How are you planning on participating in Giving Tuesday 2019?

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:
https://www.givingtuesday.org/
https://www.givingtuesdaykids.org/

Infinite Vision

In all locations, places, and spaces around the world there is without a doubt tragedy occurring. If there isn’t anything occurring now, then there has been in the past or there’s a high possibility that there will be in the future. Tragedy is many things and doesn’t always have to be big events like the ones you may be thinking of now. They can range from things like the devastating disaster that’s happening in Hawaii to a 7-year-old little girl getting a broken ankle from a bike ride. Here are three stories of people that turned their underlying disaster into something good in hopes of making the world a better place.

Haircuts for The Homeless

This is a story that surfaced and rotated around the internet at a quick pace but was never something I personally learned the full story about. Once I did, I felt even more inspired by the act of pure selflessness coming from this man. Nasir Sobhani is a Melbourne barber that takes his days off and gives free haircuts to the homeless to encourage them to build a clean start. Moving away from the surface and looking underneath that act of kindness, he’s also a man that struggled with drug addiction. He found an inspiring love for giving haircuts and states that it turned into his new outlet away from drug use. He urges the homeless people he meets to get clean and shares his own story with them on what can happen when you find something you truly love doing. Now there are several stories of other barbers doing the same thing for the homeless and it’s hard to know which came first, but they all have their own individual inspiring stories.

Positive Impact for Kids

A 12-year-old girl started her own non-profit in the wake of her own tragedy. Leanne is diagnosed with a heart condition that requires regular hospital visits. However, one specific hospital visit inspired her to start something that children all over the world can benefit from. While attending her visit, two teenage volunteers at Duke Children’s Hospital offered her a gift. It was this act of kindness that encouraged Leanne to see the good in the world and feel deeply enough to create her own way to give back. She created the non-profit, Positive Impact for Kids, that buys items to fulfill wish lists for kids in the hospital. Her ultimate goal is to improve the lives of children and adolescents in hospitals and bring them simplistic happiness whenever she can. 

In Loving Memory

aGoodCause - Girl taking donation for fundraising

A fully developed dream was on the edge of seeing its end when a son and friend of many passed away due to suicide. That dream was quickly picked up and spread worldwide with the loving grace of his family to help him finish what he started. The brand Taylor created is continued on by his family and now donates 15% to suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Taylor’s family wanted to continue this legacy for him and make sure that Taylor will always be remembered for who he was and what he loved to do. His brand is set to truly bring awareness to the tragedy that can happen within all families and the company now hopes to be completely community minded. He always wanted his brand to be philanthropic and his family continually carries that out for him in his loving memory.

Author: Shylee Wheeler

References

“Badass Barber Gives Free Haircuts to Homeless While Battling His Own Addiction.” Bored Panda, boredpanda.com/homeless-haircuts-drug-addiction-street-barber-nasir-sobhani/.

“Get Involved.” Positive Impact for Kids,
positiveimpactforkids.org/.

“Mission Statement.” Infinite Vision Clothing, ivclothing1.myshopify.com/pages/mission-statement.

Unity in Love and Purpose

Many great novels end with a happy come together. The girl next door gets the rugged misunderstood boy after their many tribulations. The dysfunctional family on the corner of Parley Avenue suddenly seems not so dysfunctional with a climactic heartwarming speech to profess a grander love. So, why is that happy ending so unknowingly satisfying to the audience? Is it a common place script? Is it because we’re socialized into expecting that happiness is at the end of all entertainment? A more accurate possibility is that it’s human nature to feel that happiness is a true piece of life. Or chocolate cake, humorously.

It’s understanding where that happiness comes from that’s important. People are hardwired into the knowingness of interrelationships; we’re just not quite sure what that means. In this context it means that we can’t have one without the other. We all, on some scale, relate to hardship and we hopefully relate to overcoming those hardships. This in a sense creates a safe, fuller community for all of us. It allows us the opportunity to thrive in tandem with one another.

Everyone sees those videos of people doing deeds out of the kindness of their hearts. I always think of that video of the grandma that brings two cans of Coca-Cola out to the two garbage men every day. There is no self-interest for her to do that. They’d still get her garbage whether she was there or not. In that moment they were so fully engaged in her thoughtfulness for strangers that I could feel it just by looking at my phone screen across the country. Without any of us knowing the full extent to any of our lives and them not even knowing I exist, we all shared in a growing sense of love and peacefulness for each other. In a way, that’s this sense of happiness in life without knowing why. That’s this sense of interrelationship. 

aGoodCause - Thinking of purpose

Every day, this can be even more powerful. We can start becoming better people than we were the day before and that’s a truly magical thing. We aren’t always gifted the opportunity to become someone better, but here it suddenly is staring you in the face. The value of purpose doesn’t have to be handing over money to cure cancer. Even though that is important and you’re more than welcome to. It can be in the smallest things like helping someone that lost everything in a natural disaster or helping a single mom fund her daughter’s college fee after she had to use the money to support her family. 

The idea of supporting someone you don’t know can be scary and with limitation, but if there’s even a small chance that you can get that house rebuilt or that girl to college it should be an easy choice. We all want that happy ending, right? Any good cause you choose to invest your time, money, or thought into is your chance to give someone that happy ending. In tandem, also giving you the ultimate happiness. Or chocolate cake, humorously.  

See how you can make a difference by contributing to a good cause today:  aGoodCause.com.

Author: Shylee Wheeler

Animal Care Initiative: How You Can Help and Why You Should

If you are anything like me, your pet is more than just a pet, they are a member of your family. Your fluffy little companion becomes a part of you; you take them everywhere with you. You find yourself splurging on new toys and treats because you can and because you love them that much. 

For me, I took my little fluff ball to “puppy classes” as a way for us to bond, training and a fun thing to look forward to besides going to the dog park. At the end of each “puppy class” when she graduated, I would splurge and purchase new toys for her to play with. 

My puppy means more to me than just being a pet, she is a valuable member of our family. She is always there at the end of the day when we get home, she is always good for a laugh and someone to cuddle or play with. I could never imagine mistreating her, because she isn’t just a pet, she is a member of our family, which is why we treat her as such. 

Unfortunately, not all animals get this kind of treatment. In fact, many are neglected, abused or even abandoned. Think of the Sarah McLachlan animal shelter commercials, with her song playing along with facts about animal abuse accompanied with images of abused and neglected animals. At one point in the commercial McLachlan comes on with the sad song playing that tugs at everyone’s heart strings, trying to entice and appeal for the audience to donate money and help rescue animals from abuse. She informs those that do donate, that their “monthly gift” will help to rescue animals from their abusers, medical care, food, shelter and love. As a way of saying “thank you” for donating, the particular organization that McLachlan is advocating for, will send donors a picture of an animal in a shelter that their contribution is going to help. This tactic works for a couple of different reasons. One being people get attached to their pets that it kills them to see any animal hurt or suffering and two the music choice appeals to people’s ethos. 

Aside from appealing to people’s ethos, commercials like McLachlan’s bring attention to a big issue that is often overlooked by many, as it is upsetting and difficult to talk about. The hard reality is that many pets are often neglected or abused by those who are responsible for taking care of them. According to humanesociety.org, it is difficult to accurately calculate how many animals are abused as animal abuse cases are not compiled by state or federal agencies. 

While it might be difficult for some to comprehend the fact that people would ever neglect or abuse their pets, it happens more than you might realize. Abuse and neglect of a pet extends beyond physically harming an animal, it includes failure to provide basic care required to thrive, neglect, puppy mills, hoarding and malicious killing of animals. 

Although some people do intentionally injure and hurt animals, others do so unintentionally. When animal cruelty is done intentionally, those doing the harm generally are knowingly depriving the animal of food, water, shelter, socialization or veterinary care in minor cases. In more extreme cases of animal abuse and cruelty, those perpetrating the acts can intentionally torture, maim, mutilate or kill animals for pleasure or financial gain. 

Having a pet comes with many responsibilities, including financial responsibilities in the form of veterinary expenses, food, and other miscellaneous expenses. When we first brought our puppy home, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the financial costs that were associated with having a new puppy. We now had another mouth to feed, on top of getting her spayed; if we wanted to leave town, we would either have to take her with us and find places that allowed dogs, generally with a fee, or pay to board her somewhere. Having a pet is an important responsibility, with many aspects that people don’t realize when they first take on a new pet. As a result, some inadvertently neglect their pets simply because they cannot afford to care for them. 

Aside from neglecting an animal, by not being able to care for them; many animals are treated cruelly by their owners. Similar to neglect, animal cruelty is the result of many different reasons according to humanesociety.org, the most common of which being a person feeling powerless, unnoticed or under the control of others. As a result, a person may choose to be cruel and mistreat animals by simply copying acts that they have either seen or experienced themselves. For others, they view harming an animal as a way to seek revenge against or to threaten someone who cares about the animal. 

Reasons for Animal Abuse, Neglect and Cruelty

There are an immeasurable number of reasons as to why animals are abused and neglected every day. These reasons range from either a deliberate action or in some cases a lack of action that results in harm to an animal. According to wildlife-rescue.org, there are two main categories in which reasons for animal cruelty can be broken down into: active and passive. No matter how you classify the reasons for a person’s cruel behavior towards a helpless animal, there is no justification for the mistreatment and abuse of an animal. 

In instances where the abuse and neglect are the result of ignorance on behalf of the owner, education can be used to mitigate future abuse and neglect. For those who need education, will often receive follow up visits to ensure that the situation improves and no further abuse and neglect of their pet occurs. In more serious cases, where actions are intentional, the animal is often removed immediately and taken to receive urgent medical care. 

agoodcause - Man holds a stick in hand and he wants to hit the dog - dog abuse

Intentional acts of violence, acts of commission, and cruelty towards a helpless animal is the result of a person’s deliberate intent to cause harm. Often, the perpetrator is using the animal as a way to assert authority or fear over another person. This can happen via threats to kill a family pet, to assert authority, intimidation, threaten someone to remain silent about a current or previous incident or to simply assert their power over their victims. 

On the other hand, passive actions of abuse and neglect are often the result of a lack of action on the part of the pet owner. While lack of action or lack of knowledge can sometimes be the reason, it does not erase the fact that animals who suffer as a result often go through extreme amounts of pain and suffering. The most common examples of passive abuse include starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, inadequate shelter during extreme weather conditions, failure to seek veterinary care when an animal requires medical care. 

An example of animal abuse through a lack of action occurred in my hometown. A few years ago, there was an individual who had in their possession heard of horses, all of which they were not feeding. The individual was reported to authorities, which then allowed for the state veterinarian and state brand inspector to step in and assess the situation. Due to the severity of the starvation of the horses, it was advised that they not be transported to a new location as it was likely they would not survive. Volunteers through an informal rescue group were collection donations to feed the horses.

Although, I felt as though I lived in the perfect community, this just goes to show that animal abuse can happen anywhere and to any animal.

Types of Animal Abuse

Now that we understand some of the reasoning behind why animals are abused, it’s important to know what abuse looks like to better understand how to stop it from happening. Abuse and cruelty can take on many different appearances, some more obvious than others. Because some animal abuse occurs on a large scale, involving animal testing and fighting; and others occurs in our own neighborhoods, animal cruelty can be classified into several different categories. 

Animal Abuse

In most cases of animal abuse, there is a deliberate action involving the harming of an animal. The hardest part of being able to stop animal abuse, is that is often does not occur in the open; most instances of animal abuse happens behind closed doors or with no one around to witness the abuse. As a result of not openly seeing abuse happen, it is easy to overlook the fact that it does happen. As a result, most areas have animal control officers who are responsible for enforcing and investigating cases of animal abuse, persecuting the perpetrator and rescuing the animal from the abuser. Although they do help the animal who is being abused, they rely on the abuse being reported to be effective. 

Animal Neglect 

Neglect of an animal often stems from ignorance or a lack of interest in the animal. When a pet is injured or sick, as an owner, you are morally and legally obligated to seek out the appropriate veterinary care for your pet. Unfortunately, for some pets, their owner is either unwilling or unable to spend the time and money that is required to heal and treat their sick or injured pet. 

Neglect of an animal includes more than failing to seek out veterinary care, it also involves failing to feed or provide water for a pet. Some claim that they “forget” to feed their pet, which is not an excuse for neglecting your pet. 

Animal Exploitation 

As sad as it may seem, there are actually people who believe that they have a sense of entitlement towards animals and because of this entitlement they are able to use animals however they want. This is generally done in a way that will bring them monetary gain through exploitation. It is not uncommon for some circuses, zoos, aquatic theme parks and other animal centered venues to exploit animals, under the disguise of “entertainment”. When these animals aren’t out performing for a crowd, they are often kept inside tiny cages, forced into submission and are unable to socialize with other animals of their own species. Other examples of animal exploitation include starving animals, accidents as a result of insufficient exhibits, and abuse to get the animals to perform a certain way. 

Animal Testing 

Using animals to test new products is not a new thing, in fact it has been around for many decades. Although, scientific developments have proved that it is unnecessary and less effective than other methods of testing that are available, animal testing does still occur across the globe. As a result of animal testing, many animals are subject to chemicals and substances that result in itching, burning, chronic pain, lost body parts, and other horrific consequences as a result.   

A prime example of animal testing, comes form the classic 1992 movie Beethoven. In this movie, a family dog is seen by the vet, who quickly realized that they could use Beethoven to test products on. They device a plan to fake a dog bite, forcing the family to have to put the dog down. Little did the family know that the veterinarian would not be putting the dog to sleep, instead he would join other dogs in their possession and be used for testing. Thankfully, the movie has a happy ending where the family catches on to the plan and is able to rescue not only their beloved Beethoven but the other dogs as well.  

Common Issues Associated with Animal Abuse

Now that we’ve established some of the reasons behind animal abuse and cruelty and a few of the many different faces that abuse takes on, it is important to understand what abuse and cruelty looks like in the real world. 

Animal Fighting 

Considered to be one of the most horrific aspects of animal cruelty is that of animal fighting. Whether it is bullfighting, cockfighting, dogfighting or simply fighting between two animals, it is horrific to witness. Animal fighting occurs when one animal is pitted against another, resulting in the death of at least one animal. 

Animal fighting is defined as including social animals that, in the wild are able to coexist without any problems. Although, they might be able to coexist, there may be a sense of dominance of one animal over another, but they do not fight to the death. 

Those who participate or encourage animal fighting do so for more than just the entertainment aspect of it, animal fighting brings in copious amounts of money. Organizers may charge a fee to be an observer of the fight, and will often collect money and facilitate betting between attendees. Organized and non-organized fights occur all across the globe—in developed and underdeveloped countries. 

Prior to an organized event, animals are often kept in small cages except for when they are out being trained how to fight. They do not receive any veterinary care—preventative or trauma-related. The animal that “wins” the fight, often is missing body parts, has open wounds, broken bones among other injuries. Animals who are subject to animal fighting often don’t live long, as they either die in a fight or are destroyed when they are no longer able to fight and bring in money. 

A few years ago, while visiting another country on a humanitarian trip, I came across a cock fight, which is something that I do not condone nor agree with. The two chickens were showing signs of aggression towards one another and their handler, prior to being placed into the same pen. Once they were locked in the same pen, the aggression worsened, especially when the handler cheered it on. It was a horrific experience to see first-hand. Thankfully, those in my group, along with myself spoke up about the cruelty and asked for the fight to stop because it was something that we all viewed to be wrong and not something that we condoned nor wanted to witness for ourselves. The handler obliged and separated the two chickens before any serious injuries were sustained by either one. 

Puppy and Kitty Mills

Chances are, if you’ve ever wanted to bring a tiny puppy or kitten into your home and life, you’ve been advised to adopt from a shelter rather than buying one from a pet store or a breeder online. This is because of puppy and kitty mills, that systematically breed animals for the sole purpose of selling the babies at an inflated price. 

Many breeding mills, do not select grown dogs and cats based on their breeding characteristics or genetic health, they just look for an animal that will bring them a profit. As a result, many of the puppies and kittens that are born have congenital conditions that can have a negative effect on their quality of life. 

Not only are many not healthy when they are born, they are often kept away from other dogs and cats in tiny cages. This minimizes their playing with other animals and socialization. Because there are so many in a breeding mill, they are typically dirty, undernourished and terrified of humans and animals alike. In the most deplorable of conditions, some are even beaten or abused by those who are running the breeding mill.  

Animal Hoarding 

We all know someone who loves animals so much, and want to bring them all home with them. Unfortunately, having too many animals can be a form of animal cruelty even when done as an act of kindness. The reality is, those who have copious amounts of animals at home, believe that they are saving animals and are treating them kindly, when they can actually be inflicting harm on the animals unintentionally. 

Some of the negative repercussions that come from hoarding too many animals inside one home is that, when one passes away, the owner typically doesn’t realize it—at least not for some time. The smell of urine and feces can be overpowering that they are able to mask the smell of decomposition, which results in horrific and unhealthy living conditions for both humans and animals. 

Those who hoard animals, will often bring home more pets with little to no regard to having the animal spayed or neutered. As a result, there are often new litters born, increasing the number of animals inside the home. These new additions often do not receive any veterinary care after they are born. 

Just last month, I read a news article about an elderly woman who had more than 100 dogs, living inside her home. Authorities were first notified, when neighbors began to call city officials complaining of a foul smell coming from the home. It wasn’t until authorities arrived that they learned the source of the smell. No dead animals were found inside the home, while some were found to be in worse conditions than others. Authorities who responded to the home, were reported as saying that this was the worst case of animal hoarding that they had ever seen.  

Fur Farming

All across history, animal pelts and fur have been a luxury, a commodity that can bring in large amounts of money. In years past, settlers and Native Americans would use animals’ pelts and fur for clothing, hats, and blankets; along with eating the meat—not wasting anything. Nowadays, animal pelts are sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, or more depending on the animal in which it came from. This is especially true for endangered animals, in which there is a huge black market, which brings in vast amounts of money for a single pelt. 

Depending on the animal pelt, some are “field-stripped”, meaning they are skinned alive in the wild. Others, such as minks and foxes are raised in farms, for the sole purpose of harvesting their fur; in most cases the animal is killed prior to being stripped of their fur. Because things have changed so drastically over the course of time, animal pelts and furs are no longer required for human survival, as they have been replaced with synthetic fibers. But some still prefer the cruel treatment of animals to achieve their fashion statement of having “real” fur on their coats. 

How to Stop Animal Abuse

As you can see, animal abuse and cruelty can and often does happen all the time, for a myriad of reasons. Because some instances of abuse are done in private, it is hard to fight back and help animals to escape and survive. 

The best way to combat animal abuse and cruelty is to be a voice for the animals who are being abused. When you see abuse or animal cruelty happening, report it. Contact local authorities and report the abuse. Don’t try to confront the abuser yourself, as you may end up getting hurt yourself. It is best to report it to the authorities who have the power to do something and save the animals from any further abuse. Along with reporting animal abuse when you see it, it is equally as important to educate others about what to do if they witness any animal abuse or cruelty happening around them. 

On a bigger level, there are many anti-cruelty laws in place which include harsh penalties for those who are committing the cruelty. When penalties are couples with counseling as part of a punishment, there can be a decrease in repeat offenders. 

For those who lack the knowledge on how best to care for an animal can really benefit from informational sessions that discuss how to care for a new or old pet, when to seek veterinary care, and how to train a pet. Educating those who don’t know can go a long way to prevent future animal abuse, simply because they didn’t know any different. 

There are organizations, such as Human Society, Best Friends Animal Society, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that are committed to stopping and putting an end to the mistreatment and abuse of animals of all kinds. All of these charities have made significant strides in the right direction, yet still have a long way to go to end animal abuse. If you would like to donate to their cause of ending the mistreatment of animals, all across the globe, you can make a donation through the Animal Care Initiative campaign found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/animal-care-initiative/. Together with your help we can fight to end animal abuse and ensure that all animals are loved, well taken care of and enjoy the life that my sweet little puppy enjoys! 

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources: 

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-and-neglect-faq

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-facts-and-stats

https://aldf.org/article/animal-neglect-facts/

Top 5 Best Fundraising Websites

Top 5 Best Fundraising Websites

I recently completed an in depth research to find the best of the best in fundraising platforms.  There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five reported in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best.  The information I discovered proved to be very powerful. I am choosing to share this extremely valuable information for free – with no catches – because I wish someone would have done the same for me. 

I set out on this adventure, hoping to find a fundraising company that not only offered me the best value for my time and money, but also had superior customer service, a truly secure website, and some excellent “Wows” or extra amenities. I really was looking to see which platform would help me to be the most profitable.

In 2017, an online article was published on the top TWENTY-SIX sites for campaign donations.  While this information is readily available, it was disconcerting to unveil that this information was outdated; in fact,  some of the websites are no longer viable. Plus, it was difficult to determine which fundraising platform was the best for me.  So, now that I’ve done hours of research and I’ve found the top five best fundraising websites I am sharing this knowledge with you. Again, the main requirements that I wanted addressed were trust, affordability, reliability, and results!  

With this in mind, this article is dedicated to the top five current, trending and result centered organizations.  These, again, are the four elements that I used to measure my findings: 1) What are they doing to ensure the security of their users; 2) How they charge fees and what they use the fees for; 3) The effectiveness, professionalism, and timeliness of their customer service; and 4)  Any amenities offered to make the experience even better, easier, and all around more successful.

In each of the four categories, which I deemed most important to those that may use one of these fundraising websites, I ranked these businesses on a scale of 1 to 5.  One means that the company is the worst in that category; and, five means that the company has earned a serious “Wow” and is the industry standard in that category. This linear model allowed me to think objectively about the criterion and see how these leading companies truly compare.  I hope that as you read this, and you critique for yourself, that this will come in handy!


A Good Cause Global

A Good Cause Global, LLC was not the first company I investigated, but it was by far my favorite. This Utah-based company is a growing start-up with lots of promise!  I believe, through my findings, that “A Good Cause” may be the next big name in fundraising!

A Good Cause – Security

At the bottom of the A Good Cause home page, you can see that they have been secured by a third party cybersecurity professional called, Trust Guard.  In my book, this is the cherry on top of the web world. You can never be too careful about the information you put online, and knowing that this site is scanned daily for potential hackers and other malicious folk… well I feel like I can trust them with my funds!  Although this company is only about two years old, I see them quickly becoming a powerhouse in the fundraising industry.


A Good Cause – Fees

In the category of fees, “A Good Cause” was amongst the lowest of all the competitors. They charge a fee for transactions using credit cards.  There is not a company in the world, that I’ve found, who doesn’t do the same.  They only charge 7.4% and $0.30 cents per donation as a payment processing fee.  This comes to a whopping $7.70 for a $100.00 donation.  A Good Cause has the best rates, with no hidden fees, and no request for an additional tip.

A Good Cause – Customer Service

I called their toll free number and was immediately put into contact with a real person.  It happened so fast, that I was truly shocked. They take customer service very seriously.  You can chat with a live person on the phone or via Live Chat. They use live chat services through Rhino Support during business hours, and a 24/7 online support to make sure that their guests have the best experience in the industry!  You can email directly or fill out a support ticket and someone will reach back to you within one business day. In all my years of working with businesses, I have not found a better customer support process.  Additionally, A Good Cause goes above and beyond by offering their guests the option of leaving a rating or review to help provide immediate feedback regarding the effectiveness of their service.  

A Good Cause – Amenities                                                                                              

A Good Cause had some great membership amenities, so I listed them below. I also enjoyed the articles as I perused their website!  They seemed to take a very personal approach, and they had several campaigns on their page that you could make a donation to directly!  It was direct and very simple to make a donation, and I wasn’t manipulated into leaving a tip! 

One area that I think this company should get kudos for is that among the services they offer, they TEACH you how to get the most from your social media platforms.  It’s the only fundraising site, that I have seen, do this! A lot of people might not know how to run a fundraiser on a blog, or on Instagram, or Pinterest. A Good Cause also provides instructions on using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!  They have earned four stars in the area of Amenities.

Summary for A Good Cause….  I get really picky about giving out high scores, but I just could not find a big fault with A Good Cause! Even as I was writing this, I kept going back to see if I could find some area to lower their scores; BUT I COULDN’T FIND MUCH OF ANYTHING!  So, Siskel and Ebert eat your hearts out. You would have to give A Good Cause a whopping TWO THUMBS UP! FIVE STARS! Scoring high in each of the four areas, A Good Cause got 90% with an 18/20 score on Security, Fees, Service, and Amenities.


The company known as FUNDly platform is easy to use, helpful and scales to any size fundraiser. Individuals can begin on Facebook, or non-profits can begin building their fundraisers on site.  You begin by telling your story and connecting with donors, which is the normal outline for almost every company you may choose. Every fundraising page has a video and photo gallery that’s front and center.  Add your content from Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook or your computer and you will have created an interactive slideshow for your cause.  Fundly has a free mobile app which you can get from the Apple store to make posts from anywhere so you can keep your story going.

One aspect that others don’t have is their Facebook OpenGraph integration.  It automatically broadcasts campaign activity and those who support or even “like” your page show up in activity feeds.

Fundly – Security

Every campaign at Fundly includes the ability to securely process donations through a payment processor called WePay. They also have a secure SSL certification.  They are about average in the area of security, so that’s why they earned three stars.

Fundly – Fees

Fundly offers a variety of payment plans depending on your needs.  Launching is NOT free, but begins at $75.00 per month.  

Fundly platform fee is 4.9% + credit card processing fee 2.9% (Total 7.8%) + $.30/transaction. If it wasn’t for their required monthly fees, Fundly’s fees would be reasonable – slightly worse than some of the other companies we’ve investigated – but reasonable. However, due to the monthly fee it just isn’t very sensible.

Fundly – Customer Service

In the area of service it was found that Fundly has no phone service.  You can email in a question and wait for a response. Compared to the other sites, this is a bit of a let down.  Emails are a slow and unpersonalized way of responding. Today’s patrons, like me and you, expect quicker more reliable way of communication.

Fundly – Amenities

On the website for Fundly there is a wide variety of services to educate and help you navigate the fundraising platform.  Tutorials will lead you step-by-step and they offer weekly podcasts. I couldn’t find another fundraising company with as many and useful amenities.

This gives Fundly an overall score of 13/20 stars, ranking it second overall with a 65% score. They have awesome amenities, but their fees and customer support were simply unacceptable.


The company called, Classy, made the top five list. It is a software company and an online fundraising platform focused on nonprofits. It was founded in 2006, originally to host fundraising events that benefit charities. They changed to a software and services company in 2010, and in 2011, began  focusing on peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, and marketing automation.

Classy – Security

One thing that stood out to me and was super impressive was that they, like aGoodCause, have Level 1 PCI compliance and security. However, I’m not sure about Malware protection, it does not make mention of this. Classy has earned four stars for Security. 

Classy – Fees

In this category, I believe Classy falls well behind.  I could find no transparency! Almost every page, although graphically eye-catching, asked for you to answer questions, and then be linked to people who would assist.  While this is nice for someone who may be ready to plunge right in, it is disconcerting that you don’t know what you will be charged for these services, let alone how much of a cut they will take from your fundraising.  In the area of fees, they are given only one star.  

Classy – Customer ServiceAs I opened up this site I was immediately drawn to the layout of the page, which shows on the right hand corner that you can request a demo!  I was immediately intrigued, but quickly disappointed that it led to a page where I was asked for a ton of my information and if I “would I like to be put on our blog”.  Then the company would contact me later to set up an appointment for a demo. Upon further perusing, I was drawn to the very bottom of the first page where Classy offered a FREE GUIDE to data-driven fundraising.  I liked how it really sold me on what I could learn! UNFORTUNATELY, clicking the link took me to a separate information collection site where you are encouraged to be contacted, and also to subscribe to their blog.

While looking through their pages, I got a pop-up for talking to a live staff member.  How nice! I asked a question about cost, and the lady that helped me was very nice and answered in a timely manner.  I was impressed that, like aGoodCause, Classy has a live chat service too. For Customer Service, I give them four stars! 

Classy – Amenities

Amenities were varied for Classy.  I was able to find educational support in their blog and archives, but it was not listed easily for viewers to find.

They have a variety of educational tools, but no mobile app, or any indication of updates or whether this is a risk-free site. 

Awarding stars therefore, will be a mix of what is missing and what they have. For amenities, they are given three stars .

Classy earned a total of 12/20 stars for 60%. Other than their fee structure, they were one of my favorites.


The company, Go Fund Me, was the most well known and have been around a long time, but I found several unsettling things that pushed them back to number four on the top five list.   This is probably the most used platform, but I think you’ll be surprised to learn about some of the things I learned about this less than favorable platform.  The Go Fund Me Campaign has been going strong since 2010. They have also acquired other companies such as “You Caring” and “Crowdrise.”

Go Fund Me – Security

Security is of the utmost importance while using online and mobile services.  Go Fund Me does allow you to submit a claim if there is a problem with a donation and offer a donor protection guarantee.  They also will return money to the person, should the claim be awarded. Go Fund Me has been around for almost a decade and processes more fundraising than any of its competitors.  However, for someone that is worried about the security of a business I could not find any sort of website security other than a basic SSL certificate. I would think a company of this magnitude should have a strong website security program, but I could not find any.

Again, I could not find any established security, but their longevity in the industry must mean they’re doing something right.  Overall, for a company that has been around as long as Go Fund Me have, I think they need to step up their game and get a few more stars in this vital category.

gofundme security score

Go Fund Me – Fees

Go Fund Me also claims on its website that it has no fees.  This is a little bit deceiving. Go Fund Me is a for-profit company. There is a 2.9% payment processing fee collected on each donation, along with 30 cents for every donation. That means if you donated $100, Go Fund Me would collect about $3.20. 

The site specifically states that, “Donors are able to leave a voluntary tip when they contribute to a cause on GoFundMe, and these tips allow us to maintain our free platform, continue helping those in need, and pay our dedicated employees.”  What it doesn’t say is that the voluntary tip is automatically defaulted to 10% or higher, and that all donors are asked to pay this. You thought you were making a generous donation, with no fees, for $100? Think again.  You only donated $96.80, but spent $110. That is a difference of about 12%. Its true that you do not have to leave a tip, but they should make you feel like you have to; and, if you’re not paying attention you will leave a 10% or more tip.

gofundme fees 3

Go Fund Me – Customer Service

They claim to have operators on call to advise you 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so that when you get that urge at 3:00 am to start a fundraising campaign, someone will be there to answer your calls.  This is not as pleasing of an experience as it is advertised to be – not by a long shot. Additionally, Go Fund Me has cleverly marketed their workers as “Customer Happiness Agents.” Is it snide to wonder if they had to get training at another giant mogul chain (whose name we shall not mentioned).  Happy meals? Happy agents? It’s just a thought. As I considered what a happiness agent actually does, I decided that I would need to venture out, and actually call the number listed on their website. The question I would ask? “Can you explain the donor program?” 

Here is what happened: First I was sent to a link like the one in the image below. I was hoping that perhaps there was an online chat, as I really wanted to say, “Hello” to one of these Happiness Agents.  The form I filled out led to a second page where I was asked if my question had been answered.

gofundme form
gofund me form

From here, I clicked that I still needed help. I was linked to the next screen, which allowed me to tell them who I was.  My selections dictate whether I got to speak to a live person or not. *Upon filling out the rest of the form, which I will not bother inserting here as I think you can see where this is going, I was sent back to a “did this answer your question?” link. Claiming that you can access their (and I quote this from their site) best-in-class “Customer Happiness” agents [who] will answer your questions, day or night is a far stretch from a computer prompted questionnaire.  Due to the serious headache their process gave me and the unending run-around, they did not earn a very good score. If I could I’d give them a negative score in this category, but that wouldn’t be professional.

gofundme customer service score

Go Fund Me – Amenities

Finally, the amenities of the Go Fund Me site were reviewed.  One thing that really stood out was that you could access the funds immediately.  This is a huge plus for me! As you will see on other sites, some companies don’t give out anything if the goal is not met!  Another bonus, they have an easy to access APP for your mobile devices. Plus, plenty of ‘self-help’ resources. I think this is their strength.  However, the endless emails after donating or creating a cause is way too much.

  • Mobile-Friendly Campaigns                              No penalties for missing goal
  • GoFundMe Mobile App                                     No deadlines or goal requirements
  • Expert advice, 24/7                                           Keep every donation you receive
go fund me amenities score

I had super high expectations for Go Fund Me, but their total score only equated to 12/20 or 60% overall rating. Their fees have hidden requests for tips, security is not clear, and their customer support was so horrible it was putrid.

Rank 4 gofundme overall score

Rank 5 Kickstarter

Kickstarter made the list, but ended up in fifth place out of the top five.   It comes up as one of the top sites, and it differs in it focus and functionality.  This is a funding platform exclusively for creative projects. If you can dream it, it can be financed through Kickstarter.  Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. These ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others, which makes this aspect of Kickstarter wicked cool. One of the first things you’ll notice is that everything on this site must have a clear goal. Something will be made, and something will be produced if you are to receive funding. 

Funding is given by “backers” who decide what they want to support. They give a pledge to projects to help them come to life and support a creative process. To thank their backers for their support, project creators offer unique rewards that speak to the spirit of what they’re hoping to create.

Kickstarter – Security

Security for Kickstarter is low.  They have been subjected to many scams wherein people have pretended to work for the company.  There is a link directly on their site concerning this problem. SCARY! With no form of site security that I could find, but warnings from the FBI to contact the Internal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center the following rating was issued. 

kickstarter security score

Kickstarter – Fees

Because Kickstarter uses backers, they do not collect a fee until you complete your goal.  I see this as both a good and a bad thing. First, you will most certainly have put money of your own into the design or idea.  So, if your desire to make the world’s most fireproof engine fails, how much money did you lose? How many people will you have to pay out of your own pocket?  Supply costs? Time invested? That all adds up! If you do succeed, you will be looking for backers to invest in your product. The kickstarter company will then take out 5% for themselves, and their company that does payment processing will also take out 5%.  There is also a .20 cent fee for each donation. This equates to $10.20 for every $100 that is donated.

kickstarter fees score

Kickstarter – Customer Service

Kickstarter uses a similar, highly frustrating, customer service strategy to the one that Go Fund Me employs.  They too have a page where you send in your questions and you are asked if your question was answered based on the electronic responses that they determine.  Kickstarter; however, does not make any allusant claims that they have agents on site. So, at least I didn’t spend an exhausting amount of time hoping to communicate with an actual live agent.  They don’t make a claim to be anything more than what they have posted – still not very helpful.

kickstarter customer service score

Kickstarter – Amenities

In the area of amenities, Kickstarter offers a weekly newsletter showcasing “Projects We Love”.  In fact, that’s what the newsletter is officially called. All you need to do is give them your email and you are set. 

The Creative Independent is another amenity offered by Kickstarter.  This is a resource for creative people, and is BY creative people. It’s a pretty cool amenity which lets you read about them and also hear about their ideas and inspirations.  Stevie Nicks is currently on their site. As a singer, and lover of her band, I like this aspect! Unfortunately, these two things are really all I could see in the Kickstarter amenity page.  So kudos for the newsletter and the Creative Independent, but there was nothing for actually helping build the funding.

kickstarter amenities score

In summary, Kickstarter ranked a very low 10/20 for 50%.  They were barely at average in a few areas, with a scary low score in security.  Although it has a great idea behind it, I don’t think I would invest in an idea that may or may not have backers, especially with the security issues.

Rank 5 Kickstarter

In conclusion…. There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five discussed in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best. Based on a Five Star rating, in the areas of security, fees, service and amenities, you should now be able to make an educated decision on your own, as you navigate the world that is fundraising!

There are many more companies out there, some big and some small. This analysis should provide you with a good resource to narrow down the right fundraising platform for you. The world of fundraising is expanding, and I hope that you find the company that best suits your needs!

As a final comparison, based on my findings, please review the below charts to observe how each of the companies stack up to each other.

Author/Researcher: Katie Stanger


kickstarter, gofundme, classy, fundly, agoodcause extras
How Much is the cause getting every $100
kick starter, gofundme, classy. fundly, agoodcause Ranking

I, Katie Stanger, thought it would be best if I gave this article to aGoodCause.com and let them post it on their website, associated sites, social platforms and/or how and where they would like. They have my full permission to use this article at their discretion.