A few years ago, I had a day at work that felt like walking into a hornet’s nest. Really it was more like the hornet nest was thrown at my head, repeatedly. I hid in the bathroom and sobbed. And then a dear friend showed up with my favorite caramel roll from my favorite bakery. It was magic. $3.75 of pastry and her presence was like balm on a wound. Sometimes the smallest gift at the right time can make all the difference.  If you want to have a huge impact with giving, but have a tiny budget: this is for you!

There are 4 elements to creating these high impact, almost magical moments, with your small gift.

  1. The Right Gift
  2. For Right Reason-Purpose
  3. To the Right Person
  4. At the Right Moment

Together these 4 things create a powerful synergy

Even our small gifts can have a huge impact in someone’s life.  When we know part of someone’s story and understand the purpose our gift could serve, we can offer that right gift at the right moment. We show up at the critical moment. If we gave the same gift, a month or year later, it wouldn’t carry nearly the impact.

The challenge often isn’t the cost. Or the time.  In our busy, high distraction, impersonal world, the issue is often our focus. For small, high impact giving, we have to pay attention. We need to hear people’s stories. We must ask questions. We need to read between the lines. It’s a bit investigative. Very rarely do people ever ask for the things they most deeply desire or need. But if we pay attention, our gift can provide that.

The gifts serve 3 different purposes:

  1. Celebrate
  2. Comfort
  3. Encourage

Sometimes there are very real needs that must be met. But more often it’s more subtle than that. We want to be known. We want our story heard. We want to feel cared for and loved. We want to know that someone sees us. We want to know that things will be ok. We want to know our work matters. We need to be cheered on to keep going. When my friend showed up with that caramel roll: Comfort.

Has something really amazing ever happened to you and you just want to tell people? You want to call your mom and text your best friend. Announce it to the barista! It’s because we want people to celebrate with us. What if the person behind you in line just got a call offering her a job? She’s ecstatic. She wants to start hugging strangers because this is just the break she needed after a really rough year. And it’s her dream job! What if you bought her coffee and a pastry? Celebrate with her! $7. And her great day just got even better. At just the right moment, the right gift celebrated this huge achievement: Celebrate.

It’s amazing when someone shows up. At the right time. With the right gift. To meet the exact need that seems so pressing in that moment.

Celebration. Comfort. Encouragement.

We must live with eye’s wide open. It’s something that takes practice: thinking about where people are at in their lives, and how you could help. Not every gift, at every time is appropriate. But we start to become more aware and grow into this habit. We learn a few things along the way. After having more life experiences, we gain a bit of wisdom.

J$ kicked off the Rockstar Community Fund in December. It’s designed to help people do this very thing: leverage small gifts to make a big impact. We had chatted on the phone a month before and I knew he was really excited about this project.

But there were other things I could deduce just based on my own life experience in starting projects and raising money.

  1. New projects are hard to get going.
  2. After the first 1/3 of a project, and after a few obstacles, things can get discouraging.
  3. It takes time for people to fork over their cash.

So I reached out in mid-December to see how things were going. (Good, but a few challenges, and not many sign ups just yet.) I asked what the monthly budget would look like. ($500 a month, but they had only raised $80 in monthly commitments.)

I said I would send over $1000 to cover January and February. To the right person, it was the right gift, for the right purpose, at the right time: Encourage.

The only reason I could do that was because 15 years ago I started practicing by giving $5-$100 gifts.

Maybe you can give $20 a month to help support the Rockstar community fund. Maybe you will be willing to receive the $20 #GivingCards to start practicing this art of high impact giving. Keeping your eyes and heart open to see the needs around you and act quickly. $20 is the perfect practice amount.

Giving has made me a better person.

Not just because of the impact for others. I am better. Today I am better able to lean into people’s stories and know how to help. I’m still a self absorbed, highly distracted person 70% of the time. But I continue to learn. I’m better at asking questions. Better at listening (something I was truly horrible at for a long time). I’m more aware, and less distracted. I make better eye contact. And check my phone less often. I’m more empathetic to what a person might be experiencing.

All of that translates into a better me.  I’m a better wife. A better mother. A much better friend. A better coworker, employee, and boss. The funny thing is: better I became, the more good things happened in my life. There is a saying, “It’s better to give than receive.” Both will make you feel great. But giving will actually help you be a better version of yourself. It’s one reason I have never felt poorer for any money I’ve given away.

You can give for the cause, for the person who will be helped and to become a better version of yourself. How many more reasons do we need?



For conversation:

Has someone ever given you high impact gift as just the right time?

Have you ever practiced this? Have you gotten better at it?