“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. . . . [I]nstead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ ” (James 4:13-15)
You likely know people who must have a plan in order to complete, or even start, a project. The Internet is filled with articles about why we should have a plan to do almost anything. A plan clarifies priorities, helps you achieve balance, gives you the strength to say no to lesser things, and helps you avoid mistakes and envision a better future. These are good things! Planning can be very beneficial, but it can also be intimidating.
In his book Rework, Jason Fried writes, “Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you can’t actually control. Why don’t we just call plans what they really are: guesses?”
It’s true. We can spend a lot of time listing goals and designing strategies, but even with the best planning and intentions, there are no guarantees that our efforts will work as we want them to. The problem with planning, Fried continues, is that “plans are inconsistent with improvisation. And you have to be able to improvise. You have to be able to pick up opportunities that come along.”
We shouldn’t disregard planning altogether, however. But we should be careful not to obsess about it. Conversely, the need to develop a highly structured plan before taking any action at all can cause you to develop planning paralysis.
Planning paralysis can affect many areas of our lives, including our charitable giving. Having a charitable giving plan implies that a few things have been considered before making a gift, such as where do my charitable passions lie? What does my budget allow me to give? When is the best time for me to give? When is the best time for a charity to receive my gift?
While I am a strong advocate for planning your giving, I also know that too much planning can hinder the joy that comes from spontaneous giving. All of your planning does not need to be perfect before you make your first gift. Some of it, maybe much of it, can be worked out along the way. Once you begin, work on a strategy that considers your beliefs and charitable passions. You don’t need to know exactly how much you will be contributing or exactly where you will make your contributions over the long term. There is time for that later. The key is to start. Just begin the journey and experience the joy of generosity.
At Abundance Canada, we can help you develop a charitable giving plan. Our gift planning consultants can help you open a gifting account, which will allow you to have the flexibility of spontaneous giving or to hold the funds until you have developed a giving plan. Once you make a donation to a gifting account, Abundance Canada will make donations on your behalf to the charities you choose, when you choose. You decide when to give, how much to give, and you can even remain anonymous if you wish.
Abundance Canada looks after all of the administrative details, so that you can experience the joy and simplicity of giving . . . and avoid planning paralysis.
Marlow Gingerich is a gift planning consultant at Abundance Canada serving generous people in Ontario and eastern provinces. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest Abundance Canada office or visit abundance.ca.