WHERE AM I GIVING? A GLOBAL ADVENTURE EXPLORING HOW TO USE YOUR GIFTS AND TALENTS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The following pages provide the official discussion questions and reflection guide for Where Am I Giving? A Global Adventure Exploring How to Use Your Gifts and Talents to Make a Difference by Kelsey Timmerman. The discussion questions and reflection guide were developed by J.R. Jamison from the Giving Rules provided in each section.
If you’re an educator and plan to use Where Am I Giving? in the classroom, or you’re a student exploring your own giving story, the supporting discussion questions and reflection guide will help you map out your own adventure to giving.
If you have questions about using the Giving curriculum, contact J.R. Jamison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PART I: WHY GIVE WHEN I HAVE PROBLEMS
OF MY OWN
Kelsey emphasizes “gratitude first, then giving” as one of the fist lessons he’s learned on his journey as a learner and a giver. But, sometimes, it’s hard to imagine ourselves as givers when we may have other demands on our life, time, money, and talents, and we may feel like we have little to give of each. If you take a step back and look at what brought you to where you are today, you’ll find that the gifts of others have come together to make up your whole. Giving thanks for these gifts may help you see that you do, indeed, have the gift of time, money, or talent to share with others. Use the following questions as a guide to reflect on how to give when you may have problems of your own.
1. Describe how you’ve been a product of the gifts others have given to you. What were/are these gifts, and how have they impacted your life?
2. Now, think of a time when you were in need (little or big). How did others help you during that time? Reflecting back, what would you have given in return if you chose to do so?
3. Then, think of a time when you were needed by someone else. If the need was your time, were you truly present in the moment/conversation (no phone, no apps, no picture taking)? If yes, what was the reaction of your company? Describe how being present made you feel.
If the need was money or your talent, did your gift/presence give them dignity? Describe how you were able to make this gift about them and less about you.
If you are a person of faith, did you give without the expectation that the receiver had to prescribe to your beliefs? Describe how you let your faith motivate you without imposing your belief on others.
4. Reflect on the role volunteering has played in your life.
Did you volunteer for a cause you are passionate about? Describe the motivating factors behind your volunteer activities.
Has volunteering helped you find purpose? If yes, what has this looked like for you? If no, what are you passionate about and how could your passion connect to using your time or talents to make a difference in the world?
5. Thinking about your passion.
If you were able to put dollars toward organizations/people working on a cause you believe in, would you be more likely to give locally or globally? Why?
Where is your favorite place to eat? How often do you eat there and how much is your favorite meal? Do the Math: If you saved up a month’s worth of your favorite meal out, how much would you have at the end of a year? Describe how you would use this savings toward your passion? What would the impact look like?
PART II: WHAT CAN I GIVE?
Kelsey met many people along his giving journey who, on the surface, seem to not have much to give. Most of them live in slums or villages that have seen severe devastation from poverty and violence. Yet, the people he met are taking back their communities and often doing it through the gift of time, compassion, and being present. Giving these things, alone, has turned around the people he met to be change makers who are inspiring others to follow. Giving has become a central focus of their lives, and they do it together as a team. Giving inspires giving. Use the following questions as a guide to reflect on what you can give.
1. Think about an injustice or a cause in your local community. Name it.
Are you personally connected? If no, are you passionate about this topic? Why or why not?
What are ways you can contribute to this cause (time, compassion, being present, money, etc.)?
2. Now that you have named how you can contribute, reflect on how you will approach your interactions.
How will your contribution(s) further connect you to other people? Describe how your giving is connecting you beyond a cause.
If your method of giving isn’t connecting you beyond a cause, how can you reposition your response to make it so?
3. Think about how your contribution will play a role in the life of others.
Describe how the voices of those who are impacted by this injustice or cause are being involved in the work.
How can the involvement of those voices change the way the work is approached?
4. Reflect on the power you hold as a giver of time, compassion, presence, or money.
Describe some of your own privileges that may remove you from the people you are working alongside (dress, language, etc.).
If you are connecting with others on a personal level, how are you being intentional about being a stepping stone for them? How are you connecting them to other people and opportunities? Describe how these experiences are connecting you.
5. Some of the best gifts are immeasurable.
What are the immeasurable contributions that have been given to you during your life?
What are the immeasurable contributions you will make in the life of others?
PART III: START LOCAL
Kelsey encountered people along the way who are philosophers, deep thinkers, and those who sought the answers to change in their own backyards. The one common denominator is that they all believe giving back must begin within you. The person in the mirror who recognizes that giving must start close to home. Use the following questions as a guide to reflect on how to start giving locally to be the change.
1. Close your eyes. Remember that injustice/cause that you described so eloquently in the Section II questions? Breathe in, breathe out. Clear your mind. Find your center.
Deep down, is there pity in your giving? If yes, make a list of ways you can be more motivated by compassion.
From that list, what are actions steps that will help you better experience the lives of those you help (free from pity)?
2. Reflect on these action steps to giving locally.
Do you feel like you can contribute toward change? If no, pare down this list. Start small, start within.
PART IV: THE GIFT OF TRAVEL
Kelsey describes travel as fatal to prejudice. His own experiences of traveling the world and meeting the people who make his clothes and grow his food has contributed to how he views his own life and how he can best give. Traveling doesn’t have to include the cost of a trans-Atlantic flight and nights in villages. It may be driving a few blocks outside of your comfort zone to leave behind your own blinders. Use the following questions as a guide to reflect on how travel can help you be a better giver.
1. Think about the borders you are crossing for your passion or cause. Is it cultural or socio-economic lines? Is it a sea? Many time zones?
Crossing those borders, when you’re developing solutions to help people, how are you including the people you are seeking to help? How are you following their lead?
Describe how these experiences can expand your empathy.
2. Sometimes travel will not only kill prejudice, but you may find along the journey that you are the one who needs the most help.
Describe how you may have more to learn than you do to teach?
Are you able to put yourself in the shoes of those around you? How will this change your approach?
3. Experiencing new ways of life can increase your faith in humanity.
Describe what this looks like for you?
How are you better able to see inequality in the world?
Are you able to move away from seeing yourself as donor of time, compassion, presence, money and more as a philanthropist investing in the good works of others? Describe how this will make where you’ve been and who you are better?
PART V: IS HELPING HELPING?
Kelsey discovered that certain aid, over time, hasn’t really helped communities but has actually harmed them. Other aid has gotten it right. But what creates this difference? When is helping helping and when is it not? Unfortunately, there have been giving fads just like there are exercise fads, and those come and go with the wind. Use the following questions as a guide to reflect on if your helping is helping.
1. Reflect on the cause or organization(s) you care deeply about and have given (or plan to give) your time, compassion, presence, or money to help their mission.
Is your giving leading to dependency? Describe how it may or may not be contributing to dependency.
If you are involved (or want to become involved) with an aid organization, how long have they provided assistance to specific areas? Is it clear the aid is still needed? How has the organization empowered and inspired those they serve to contribute to the organization (sustainability vs. dependence)?
2. Sometimes, the biggest way to help is being present and showing compassion.
How are you walking with the people you are trying to help? Are you letting them take the lead?
Describe how you have allowed yourself to accept the gifts of those you serve? How has this helped them? How has this helped you?
Will you be moved by empathy but act on logic? What does this look like for you and those you are trying to help?
3. Don’t let the failures of others and your own stop you from giving.
Describe how your gifts will live on after you are gone?
Are you creating space for less dependency and more localized innovation? What does this look like?
PART VI: OUR GIFTS CONNECT US TO THE WORLD
Kelsey found along his giving journey that the gifts we have can connect us the world. And a world of giving can help us find our true purpose. Use the following questions as a guide to reflect on the power of your gifts and what lies within your Axis of Awesome.
1. From all of the section reflection questions, think about the following:
How have you learned to view listening as a gift?
Describe ways you will include others in your giving?
2. How will the things that make you feel weak give strength to others?
3. How have the section reflection questions helped you discover that the best giving doesn’t cost you, leaving you with less; it grows you leaving you with more?
4. What is your good person equation?
Number of hours volunteered divided by 100
Percentage of income toward fighting global poverty divided by 2%
Percentage of income toward fighting local poverty divided by 2%
Percentage of income toward arts or friend in need fund divided by 1%
Acts of engagement divided by 6
= YOUR GIVING SCORE
0 = Uh, you need to give more. You’ll be happier.
5 = Average. Thanks for doing your part.
10 = Amazing! You are setting an example for the rest of us.
5. Create your own Axis of Awesome:
What is your special skill?
What are you most passionate about?
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced?
The intersection of these three questions is your Axis of Awesome. The place where you can make the biggest difference.
Now answer the most important question of all: WHERE ARE YOU GIVING?