Seasons of Generosity
As in life, there are different seasons of generosity. Certainly, the amount of time, money, and energy we can give will vary depending on the season.
“We are called to give whichever one [time, money, energy] we have in abundance,” explains Bob Tiessen, a life-long practitioner of generous giving. With careful planning, we can ensure that we extend generosity throughout our whole lives.
“We are called to give whichever one [time, money, energy] we have in abundance.”
Establishing Generosity: The Early Years of Giving
As children growing up in the Mennonite community of Leamington, Ontario, Bob and Anita Tiessen gained a deep appreciation for the importance of generosity and sacrificial giving.
“I think generosity was something that you picked up almost by osmosis…it was just a normal part of growing up,” explains Bob.
Although they weren’t the decision-makers in their respective families, the children saw their parents prioritize generosity.
“Money was always very tight, but giving to the church was always a priority,” says Anita emphatically. Sometimes, this meant Bob and Anita had a little less for themselves, but that experience was a practical lesson in generosity both children took to heart.
Growing Generosity: Giving in The Busy Season
Despite having grown up in the same small town, Bob and Anita met as young professionals working in Toronto. Anita had started her career in social work and Bob was working at a life insurance company. They married, and their individual giving became a family affair.
They both volunteered at their church and with local charities, but in this season of life, giving financially was a challenge.
“One of the features of my job was that my income was highly volatile,” explains Bob. The couple didn’t want to sideline their giving, so they opened a Flexible Gifting Account, while directing the distribution of the funds to charity on a regular basis. As the couple progressed in their careers, they were able to grow their giving accordingly.
The couple didn’t want to sideline their giving, so they opened a Flexible Gifting Account, while directing the distribution of the funds to charity on a regular basis.
Planning Generosity: The Golden Years of Giving
Now several years into retirement, Bob and Anita’s commitment to giving remains strong. “There’s a recognition that we’re no longer in the workforce, so our income has changed, and we have to be more careful,” says Anita.
Now, they volunteer more time with the church and local charities. They have structured their finances, so they can continue to donate to their favourite charities for years to come. Anita puts it simply, “With a little planning, we were able to pre-fund our giving into our retirement…so we don’t have to stop.”
With a little planning, we were able to pre-fund our giving into our retirement…so we don’t have to stop.
Extending Generosity: A Legacy of Giving
Looking ahead, the Tiessens want to ensure their legacy of generosity continues well into the future.
“We’ve been careful in drafting our will to reflect our generosity, so I don’t see a particular end point on our generosity journey,” says Bob.
Not only will the charities they care about be supported, the Tiessens are setting an example for the generous young people who will come along after them.
Bob and Anita’s lifelong generosity began with those early lessons in giving to the church, and they have honed their plans for giving over a lifetime. But they aren’t done growing their generosity yet.
“We revisit it regularly. As our circumstances change and time passes, we will reassess things.” But for now, their example of lifelong generosity is clear: Give what you can when you can and do so with love.Bob and Anita have prioritized giving generously of their time, money and energy through every season of their lives. Here’s how they do it: