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NFL Playoff Excitement, Disaster Relief, and Joyful Habits: What’s in Your Giving Envelope?

NFL Playoff Excitement, Disaster Relief, and Joyful Habits: What’s in Your Giving Envelope?

Natural disasters change lives (as evidenced by this picture from Joplin, Missouri, in 2011). Thankfully, in the aftermath, people are motivated to give charitably to help with relief efforts. What motivates the charitable giving that you do?

I write to reach those who seek to live their life in “balance”. My husband and I are not in the early-retired niche. We did not choose to save at incredibly high rates so we could retire by 35 or 40 or 45, or even 50.

Instead, we have lived responsibly, within our means, which has allowed me to work part-time (as well as have some stay-at-home mom years), and saved for retirement. We also saved for the years when we knew we’d have two kids in college at one time, hoping to help them with a portion of that expense.

Our spending mindset has also always included charitable giving, and it’s the only percent of income we deliberately target and calculate straight off the top of our gross income.

Giving helps connect us to the world by paying attention to the needs of others, including those who don’t live with the resources and amenities of the United States. For example, VisionTrust and Samaritan’s Purse have incredible global outreach programs and we trust them with their mission and our donations.

Giving now, as we live through each passing year, also helps us be intentional with where the money goes. I like the quote that I heard a man named Ron Blue say while discussing personal finance on a radio broadcast so I’m going to give him the credit.

“Do your giving while you’re living so you’re knowing where it’s going.” Ron Blue

The following two stories are examples of when the heart is stirred, wallets and checkbooks can be opened and others can be blessed by the power of incredible generosity.

Story #1 – NFL Playoff Excitement

During the last regular season weekend of the 2017-2018 National Football League (NFL) season, Andy Dalton led the Cincinnati Bengals to a win over the Baltimore Ravens by throwing a touchdown pass in the last 45 seconds of the game. The New Year’s Eve loss knocked the Ravens out of the race to a wildcard berth in the playoffs and opened the door for the Buffalo Bills to advance to the playoffs.

The Buffalo Bills had not been to the NFL playoffs since the 1900s! OK, it was the 1999 season, so that playoff game was actually in January 2000, but still… 18 years ago! and 17 seasons without a playoff berth.

Fans of the Buffalo Bills were elated! They were so thrilled that their team’s playoff drought was over that some started donating to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation to show appreciation. And word spread.

According to Andy and Jordan Dalton’s thank you letter in The Buffalo News on January 5, 2018, approximately 14,500 people were so excited about their beloved Buffalo Bills’ playoff berth that they donated more than $330,000 to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation within five days (one work week).

This Sports Illustrated article updates the numbers to 16,000 people giving $360,000 within seven days. That’s an average of $22.50 per person. What an incredible and unexpected gift to any non-profit organization!
Clearly, fans of the Buffalo Bills were motivated by joy and excitement to give generously to a foundation that does some incredible good works to help others.

Story #2 – Disaster Relief

The 2017 hurricane season was tough on Texas. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017 and wreaked havoc with its destructive winds, record-setting rainfall, and historic flooding before finally dissipating several days later.

J.J. Watt, a defensive end for an NFL team, the Houston Texans, announced he was setting up a site with a goal of raising $200,000 for hurricane relief efforts. By the time the fundraising window was closed, the goal had been increased multiple times and 209,312 donors had contributed $37,068,102 to this particular fundraising event, an average of $177.09 per person!

Clearly, many were moved by the devastation they saw in Texas, whether in person or on the news, and wanted to help.

What moves you to donate your hard-earned dollars?

  • You are moved by seeing others in need and want to help? Compassion.
  • You feel bad for having so much? Guilt, maybe? Or you want others to have more as well.
  • It makes you feel good to share what you have? Cheerful generosity.
  • You feel, or are, privileged and want to pay it forward? A sense of responsibility, perhaps.
  • You believe that you are a steward of all that God has put you in charge of and want to honor him by sharing it to further his work? Obedience.
  • You get a tax write-off when donating to an eligible non-profit? Business-minded…fair enough if it inspires you to give more!

Maybe you are not motivated to give, so you don’t.

Or you plan to once your debt is paid off. Or after you’ve saved enough for whichever goal has ranked your top priority.

For some people, you’d like to donate but honestly your budget is so tight that you can’t squeeze any water out of a rock. This challenge is not meant to make you feel bad. May you have a better year in 2018 and the years ahead.

My Challenge to You

Those of you who are able but just don’t, consider adding charitable donations to your spending plan this year, even if it is a small amount. And those of you who give some, consider giving more.

Some will advise you to pay yourself first with contributions to your savings and investment accounts.

I’d like to throw this idea out there: Contribute to the welfare of others first. Pick a certain percent of your gross (pre-tax) pay and commit to giving it away throughout 2018. Whatever percent you pick, plan now how you will donate the amount before the end of the year.

Does giving come down to heart? compassion? an obligation? a habit? an inspiring football game?

I don’t know that it matters. For my husband and I, our giving started as obedience to a tenet of our faith but has evolved into a joyful habit that we plan for and track each year.

There is a freedom that comes with recognizing you are a steward of resources (money) provisioned to you and it’s not just for your family to use for yourselves.

You are more than your salary. You are more than your bank balance. Take these steps to put some money where your heart is and to support your values.

  1. Start where you’re comfortable or stretch yourself! Pick a percentage, multiply it by your expected annual income, and commit to giving that much in 2018.
  2. You know your values better than anybody. Identify charitable organizations that support your values and plan your giving. Will it be monthly or quarterly? Recurring payments or lump-sum gifts?
  3. As you would with a savings or debt payoff goals, identify areas where you can cut back on spending to free up money to donate. Can you loosen the grip on your savings a bit?
  4. Follow through and donate your money.
  5. Use the Donation Tracking spreadsheet I created to track your giving this year.

Let me know how it goes! I will be very surprised if you write me in a year to say that it did not feel good and it wasn’t even a little bit freeing.
Share your thoughts in the comments below!



  1. Looks like a big score to me. Timely. Heartfelt. Inspired.

    1. Ed, hello! Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!

  2. Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions

    Bills fans are great – aren’t they! Great post Carol! We need to get more organized about our giving. We give to many organizations, but with all the changes in life – it was hard to do a percentage. That will be our goal this coming year.

    1. Vicki, you Bills fans are incredible! I love that story. I hope their example of joyful giving inspires others! And hopefully my spreadsheet will work correctly and be useful to you and others. 🙂 Take care!

  3. Amy @ LifeZemplified

    Great spreadsheet, Carol. We’ll be giving more this year and the sheet will come in handy, thanks!

    1. Amy, thanks for stopping by! Great to hear from you. I hope the spreadsheet works as intended.

  4. Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early

    Oh I love the donation spreadsheet tracking sheet you created! Way better than my note in my phone where I haphazardly write down when I’ve made a donation. One of my goals for 2018 is to continue to increase my charitable giving, and this chart should give me a push to stretch that even farther.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad the links worked and you found it! I ❤️ spreadsheets.

  5. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I’ve done a lot of thinking about this in the past year and I’m working on a post sharing my deeper thoughts on it. Even while we had one of our most turbulent years ever, my little chosen family and I are so incredibly lucky to be loved and have enough financial means to take care of ourselves. In every previous year, our giving was based on urgent need first – friends and natural disasters. In the last week of the year, I’d focus on giving to causes we believe in: human and animal welfare, education and literacy, etc.

    I came into 2018 with the decision that I was going to change our approach and intentionally give starting earlier in the year, and giving more. While I still worry about money on a larger scale, it’s time for me to give first, or at least move it up to among our top five priorities, and trust that taking care of our fellow beings is as important as taking care of our own futures. I believe it, now it’s time to live it.

    1. Hi, Revanche. Thank you for visiting my site and for your thoughtful comment. There are so many choices of organizations/causes to donate to and it seems like there is one natural disaster after another. I like what you said about taking care of our fellow beings. Yes, it is that important. That’s great you’re planning to be more intentional this year. It’s totally a personal choice as everyone figures out their own amounts and recipients. I’d say it’s part of one’s legacy (in a way), whether you’re helping individuals or organizations/causes. I’ll watch for your upcoming post. Take care!

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