Generosity-alive and warm in Your Heart Gives more Effectively when Your Mind is Informed and Discerning - Helping Your Heart

Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish

Do you remember that old proverbial expression, Penny-wise pound-foolish? I think I have done that.

One Saturday I did some unusual giving. I've been trying to sort out how to think about it.

My church organized for some years, a Saturday Garage Sale to raise money for missions. Another goal was to use it to connect with the unchurched neighbours in the sub-divisions all around our church. Church members as well as anyone in the community were invited to set up a sales table for themselves, but asked to make a donation of any amount to the missions project.

The Missions committee and volunteers also accept donations of items to sell at the sale and the proceeds from those items go to the missions project too.

Since we have a large gym we could choose to set up there if the day looks rainy or not suitable for outdoors. (No need for a rain date or cancellation).

A very good plan. I decided that instead of having a yard sale at home, I would load up the stuff I'd collected in my front porch for my next sale and set up at the church. I assumed that I would have a totally different crowd of shoppers, and many more of them since it was across the city from my home.

What I had not processed in my mind was the physical exhaustion involved.

To make for less loading/unloading of my car in one day, I loaded it up the night before, trunk full, backseat and front passenger seat all full!

Staying up late that Friday night to make some business cards and mini-flyers to hand out meant that I had trouble getting up in the morning, so I arrived after 8 am when the Garage Sale was already in full swing. Fortunately, a friend and a stranger stepped up to help me carry my stuff in from the car to my table space in the middle of the gym.

At 2 pm the the Garage Sale was considered ended, so I had to pack up my stuff and carry it out to the car again. Another man I knew and his young son, stepped in to help, but of course, I ended up doing the most carrying and arranging. I began to get this da ja vu feeling: how come I'm carrying all this stuff so many times?

When I got home I unloaded the car again (because I knew I would have passengers after Church the next day).

I made a quick trip for some groceries and then hungrily gulped a snack before crashing on my bed for a nap. I was utterly exhausted. I don't often think of my age as a hindrance to anything i want to do, but the thought certainly passed through my mind that I might be too old for this kind of charity work.

Later, I did my bookkeeping. I discovered that I had only gained a little over $34 in cash sales, and I had cheerfully handed $20 over as my donation to the missions committee. Again, I asked myself whether this was a wise way to be giving to missions. Not that I begrudge my gift to Marie Ens' Place of Rescue in Cambodia at all. But would it not have been wiser to have a simple little yard sale and donate my proceeds the missions project later?

This seemed especially prudent when I saw that my September yard sale last year had netted me over $83. It had not been nearly as exhausting!

My point then, for my own benefit, and perhaps yours, is that it is much better to think through our giving plans and methods so that we are not penny-wise but pound-foolish, to use that old proverb.




If these ideas raise new questions in your mind, browse around on this site. You may just find the answers. Check the Articles Index, the Givers Index, (real examples), the Ideas/How-tos Index, and Worthy Causes Index

Let me know your thoughts and questions on giving in response to these articles.


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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada