3 Questions to Ask About Money, Gifts, and Donations

Posted on: May 3rd, 2021 by Kristen Miller

How Your Money Mindset Impacts Your Daily Decisions

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

You hear a lot about mindset lately. And that’s a good thing. If there’s one thing this past year has shed light on, it’s mental health. Along with mind work and the power of habits. 

And wow, mindset really shows up when talking about money. How you feel about it. What you value. And what you think about when you make a purchase. 

So. Many. Purchases.

In fact, you probably hear a voice in the back of your head at the mere mention of finances. Or money. And that voice sounds a lot like your mom, your dad, or even a mentor.

A familiar voice, sharing all the phrases that you heard frequently in your youth. Phrases like “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Or “turn off the lights, we don’t own stock at the utility company.” Or my favorite, “is that a need or a want?”

Yeah, you’re not alone.

So often finances bring up a whole lot of emotions. And to dig deeper, start by asking yourself some questions. In fact, play along. What thoughts come to mind when you think about your money? Do they relate to what you make, or how you budget, or what you choose to give? 

And take it a step further, what feelings are lurking just below the surface? The ones that have been ingrained in your everyday thinking, your subconscious. The tape that plays on repeat as you make decisions every day.

To gain more insight into your money mindset, here are three questions to ask yourself and those closest to you as you start a conversation.

  1. What Are Your Earliest Memories of Money?

Start by going back, way back. What are your earliest memories of money? If it’s not something you’ve thought about lately, go deep here. Grab a pen and notebook, and really think back to your early days. 

Think about what your family did to earn money. How they felt toward money. And how they talked about money – or didn’t. 

Try to remember a moment in time regarding money. Maybe it involved a special event in your life, a significant moment in your family’s journey. Or maybe it was an ordinary day, and then **boom** something happened, and you remember how those around you responded.

For me, my great-grandparents were farmers, coal miners, and road builders. And money was in short supply. In fact, one of my grandmothers earned a full scholarship to Brown University; she graduated first in her class from Minneapolis School District in the mid-1920s. Sounds wonderful, right? 

Unfortunately, she was unable to attend because the family needed her income.  

A specific story from generations ago that has influenced my thoughts, my beliefs around money. A script that has been with me my entire life. I learned the value of saving, of not letting things go to waste, of growing your own food. And as the youngest of three girls, hand-me-downs were a way of life. We didn’t have a lot, and yet we had plenty.

What stories make up your beliefs when it comes to money? What moments and memories from your past that have impacted your circle of influence, and in turn, you? 

Jot them down and discuss them with your friends and family. What assumptions have you made? And what lessons have you learned when it comes to money?  

“Money is a unit of measurement used in the act of giving and receiving. It’s what you do with it and how you think, feel, and speak about it that give it a personality.”

– Jen Sincero

  1. What Gifts Do You Cherish? 

Gifting is a personal act, a thoughtful act. One that’s filled with sentiment and shows your love and care for another human being. 

To better understand your gifting mindset, reflect on the gifts you have both given and received. The ones that stand out, the ones that made a real difference in your life.  

What have you created or thoughtfully searched for and given to a loved one? Again, a special occasion may be the catalyst for the gift. If so, what was it, and why was it significant to you? How did giving that special gift make you feel?

Several years ago, I started making family photo calendars. With family spread out across thirteen states, we don’t get to see each other often, even before COVID. So each year, I gather pictures and create a montage for each month to capture the year. It takes hours (and hours!) to get it just right. But it’s a labor of love. It brings me great joy to gift the calendar and is my way of expressing love and connection. 

And then shift your focus to the gifts you have received. Something small, or thoughtful, or maybe even a grand gesture. Think about the sentiment behind it.

For me, handmade gifts from loved ones top my list of favorites. Lamps made by my PaPa with wood from a walnut tree my great-great-grandfather chopped down to keep it from being used as the whipping tree. A beautiful quilt my mother spent years patiently and meticulously embroidering and quilting. The roses she hand-stitched are breathtaking. And handmade gifts from my children over the years. They all mean so much because they invested their time and talents, and the gift was given with great love.

So think about the gifts you have received over the course of your lifetime. Which stand out as cherished belongings? Why?

Discussing this could be a fun conversation starter in your circle. It could draw you even closer, by sharing what’s important, what experiences you’ve collectively lived. And deeper, yet, by sharing the values that make you who you are.  

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

  1. How Do You Feel About Donations, Big and Small?

Donations are an expression of your commitment to a cause. A personal pledge of support to an organization, its mission. 

And you have an opinion about donations. Heck, you may even have a full-fledged philosophy about it. Likely stemming from your earliest memories around money.

So go on, answer the question: how do you feel about making a donation? About charity?

Explore how you feel when you make a spontaneous donation. Like when you learn of a family who is walking through a tragedy, a devastating loss, and you see a Go Fund Me campaign set up to support them. Or when you’re making your purchase in your favorite store (or online) and the cashier asks you if you’d like to round up to the nearest dollar to support a cause. 

And then reflect on how you feel when you give a planned donation. Like when the United Way kicks off a new giving campaign with your employer. Or when your community has a focused day of giving, like Give Local York.

Chances are good that you have a routine, a favorite way to filter requests and need and opportunities to give, to donate. What is it?  

As a donor who chooses to support your community, you are expressing your hopes and values in real-time by aligning your money with your passions. You are supporting the issues and causes that are important to you, the ones you really care about.

Maybe you care deeply about children, equality, animals, mental health, community, education, access to books, or a unique combination of causes. 

As you do the thought work, also think of how you donate. Do you give your time, talent, or treasure? Or all three? 

You may find some of your earliest memories of donating coming back to the surface, impacting your actions, your choices, your mindset.

For me, my family taught me the importance of giving, and that being generous is an act of hope and connection to others in my community. It’s an act of faith in the work of those trying to make things better in the world. Every year, my family supports dozens of local and national organizations whose mission aligns with our values and dreams for the future. 

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” 

– Kathy Calvin

Nurture An Abundant Mindset

Your money mindset is just that, yours. It’s personal. And layered. And maybe even complicated. The same with gifting and donating. It’s all so very personal. 

And we all have a jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings around money. 

But gosh, it’s important to nurture your mindset, your growth, to reflect and build awareness. And to shift your money mindset to one of abundance.

Look, my father worked at the YMCA his entire career. His dedication and the conversations we had about service, community, and making a difference led to my thirty-plus year career in the nonprofit world. Literally, the conversations we had around the dining room table shaped my life.

Just like it did yours.

And as an Executive Director of a nonprofit that serves children and families, most of which have financial hardships, that legacy continues.  

“To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.” 

– Henry Ford

Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They are the backbone of the economy, serving childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more and to donate, visit