(This post is prompted by an opinion article that can be found here where two bloggers for major newspapers online argue the costs/ benefits of replacing traditional food drives with cash donations only to anti-hunger charities.)
The business major in my head completely understands the good intentions of such a request: charities can often get items directly from suppliers for pennies on the dollar, delivered right to their door and sometimes even pre-sorted. Cash also alleviates the headaches of sorting and simplifies distribution.
At the same time, experience proves that for most people donating cash is not at all equivalent in impact or motivational force to participating in a drive.
For social and kinesthetic learners, it is the interaction and participation itself that makes the donation mean something and builds the connection that motivates them to give. Even visual and auditory learners will find a significantly stronger impact in physically seeing and hearing the people running/ benefiting from the charity and feeling their passion to meet the burning needs of hungry families. No website photos or video clips will ever compare.
In the end, though, it is the love languages that will prevent cash-only from being the wave of the future among successful charities.
I don't usually quote scripture on here, but a verse came to mind that seems highly appropriate here: If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)
We can throw all the money we want at charities, but if we do it from behind our computer screen with our credit cards and never really connect we may as well not have bothered.
And if we only give the gift of our money or the item it buys, we have missed so many opportunities to bless and be blessed through the other four love languages! What about:
The quality time we could have invested in strengthening our families by working together towards a goal, or in sharing a cup of hot cocoa with someone who's lonely and needs a listening ear more than they needed the neatly wrapped package we came to deliver?
The words of kindness and affirmation we could have offered a busy, struggling single parent that mean so much because they come from someone other than a charity worker who's "supposed to" say those kinds of things.
The hugs, handshakes and other little physical touches that come with working together on a project or meeting to celebrate a successful drive that are so important to people who aren't loved on at home.
The simple act of serving one another that has long been proven to change hearts, reorient perspectives and improve the world one interaction at a time.
Whatever you do to give back, at whatever time of year you do it, make a point of doing it in love - even if that means you have to trade it what you've always done for something new or more challenging. It will make all the difference - for you and the world.