Minimalist Donations

If you’ve been practicing minimalism for any length of time you may already be good at choosing what stuff to donate. But what do you do about time and money?

It amazes me how many people are willing to tell us where we should donate our time and money. Besides the solicitations that come in the mail, friends sometimes send us notices of causes they would like us to support. Sometimes we feel pressured to do that even if it is not right for us.

How do you determine whether or not it is right for you? I use two criteria of which each donation only needs to meet one of the two. Does it bring me joy? Does it fit my values? “Should” is not part of my decisions. After all, minimalism is about encouraging you to get rid of everything that doesn’t help you live your best life.

For instance, when our daughter was in elementary school her school offered a weekly trip to a local roller skating rink. Since skating was something I enjoyed, I donated my time to be a chaperone. Yeah, riding a school bus to and from the rink was not fun but the skating and watching all those kids enjoy skating was worth putting up with the bus ride.

As a member of the Family Life committee at church when intergenerational living was a new concept, I participated in a weekend workshop where we explored how to teach the concept of grief to a variety of ages at one time. One of my suggestions was to put big pillows on the floor with hymnals and instructions to turn to the page for the song What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I was thrilled when a group of teenaged girls, one of whom was a song leader for summer camp, admitted they’d never looked at the meanings of the words of songs before. That moment still brings me feeling of joy all these years later.

Living and traveling in an RV was fun so I donate time to an online group that helps other people figure out how to enjoy doing that.

Food and housing insufficiency have been concerns of mine for many years. So when my first stimulus check arrived I donated it to our local food bank.

The second one went to a new charity called Homes on Wheels Alliance that fits out small vehicles to donate as mobile housing for people in need. It also teaches the new owners how to live successfully on the road.

Those were one time instances but I also have recurring donations. We keep a box in our front closet in which to place things on their way to our local donation center. We contribute to local food drives. And we send monthly donations to our local PBS station, charities supported by my church, and HOWA. These are things that bring me joy and/or fit in with my values.

Some people donate to causes that are not right for them because of FOMO–the Fear Of Missing Out on something they later might wish they had done—mostly, I think, to please other people. I encourage you instead to focus on JOMO—the Joy Of Missing Out on things you didn’t want to do anyway.

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