Speech Smarts

How Humble is Your Charity?

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Charity offered as a hand up instead of a hand out transforms pity into dignity.  The key is to help those in need without making them feel needy.   When your request is specific and clear, your audience knows how to help.  Asking for charity is best done with humility, honesty and specificity.

At one time or another you will need some help. Whether you get it depends if your listeners get it.  Vague pleas for assistance, action, or attention aren’t very helpful in letting people know what you need.  The clearer your request, the easier it is to understand and act upon it.  Clear requests tell,  What is needed? When it needs to happen? And,  why are you asking me?

“I’m in charge of the company community outreach campaign, and I would really appreciate your support”, basically tells your colleagues that you don’t really feel charitable and you want them to be charitable for you.  ‘’Our goal is to feed one hundred hungry families within our community.  All you have to do is bring in three cans of food and leave them in red box by the office entrance. The collection will begin on Monday and end on Friday.  I am asking each of you to make this small contribution, because together we can make big difference.”  This is a better way to ask.  Of course some won’t respond, others will leave cans in your cubicle and yet, on Friday, you will probably find your red box runneth over.

Before you even ask anyone to help you, it helps to be honest with yourself.  What is your true motivation, guilt and pity for those less fortunate, the challenge and chance to contribute, or the obligation and aggravation of acting compassionate in front of your colleagues?  Your charitable requests reflect your feelings and generally resonate only with those that share them.    If you feel pitiful you will ask by evoking pity.    The truth is that acts of charity are done for very personal reasons.  When you clearly state your motivations without enforcing your feelings on others, they can respond with true feeling.  A dignified request respects someone’s choice to do and feel nothing, as well as invites them to fill the need with everything they have.

Humility and charity go hand in hand when you can you see yourself experience another’s challenges.  Charitable requests are often made excruciating emotional, with horrific images and stories.  Emotional manipulation can just as easily offend as connect your listener’s with the cause.      Your charitable request should reflect respect for those in need, and the needs of your listeners.  Sharing how a challenge has touched you is always better than trying to make some challenge sound touching.  When you put your hand out for a contribution, your audience should know how it becomes a hand up for you and those in need.

Addressing a need without dressing down the needy is the essence of a charitable speaker.   Eloquent charity turns a hand out into a hand up and transforms the pitiful into the dignified.   Charity may begin at home, but it can only grow beyond the home by asking for specific help with honest humility.


About the Author:

David Nemitz has designed and delivered over 10,000 sales presentations, professional development programs and executive coaching sessions for corporations and governmental organizations such as the US State Department, The French Consulate, and American Express. When he is not helping others define and refine their strengths, you can find him watching the sun set over The Magic City or strolling through The City of Light where he lives with his wife Ninette.