Giving back to the world

For this post, I thought I’d do something a little different and share with you how I structure my giving. That is, I want to share how I go about giving back to the world and my thought process behind it.

What is giving?

The general idea of “giving” transcends national boundaries, races, and time. It can be a very powerful tool to help others in need in times of crisis, as well as help others achieve their own goals.

Like most musicians (and people in general), I went through most of my life thinking that giving was mostly limited to giving out a percent of my income, maybe just haphazardly tithing at church. People would have discussions about what percent to give, whether that should pre-tax or post-tax, etc.

But limiting your thinking to something like a tithe really misses the bigger picture of helping others and giving back to the world!

I can’t tell you what a revelation it was going through The Master’s Program and really digging into the details of giving and taking a systematic look at my giving. It forever changed how my wife and I look at giving and how we actually go about it! Even though the concepts I learned are rooted in the Christian faith, they can apply to everyone and even to your own music career. You’ll see what I mean when I share just a few of the many ideas about giving that I got from The Master’s Program, which I modified and personalized along the way.

Three life-changing ideas.

Three simple concepts that really hit home with me are:

  1. Giving involves more than just money
  2. Give back to those who positively impacted your life or invested in you
  3. Take a systematic approach to giving

1. Giving involves more than just money.

This idea makes perfect sense once you think about it. You are more than just your money, which means you have more to give than just your money. For example, you might be able to give your time, your expertise, your helping hand, your physical property, your emotional support, or your connections/network.

So, when you think about giving, don’t immediately reach for your wallet (either to guard it or to open it). 😉 Instead, think about what type of giving would be the most effective and appropriate for that situation.

2. Give back to those who positively impacted you or invested in you.

This idea is awesome and I had never before thought about it this way (thanks, Bob!). Using the idea of giving either money or any of the other assets mentioned in #1 above, consider giving back to these types of things as it relates to music:

  • People who encouraged you to start pursuing music in the first place
  • People who helped you learn your craft
  • Radio stations, podcasts, or YouTube channels that really helped shape you or your music career
  • People and organizations that gave you a platform to share your music with the world
  • Musicians and artists who inspired you and changed how you make music or directed the type of music you write
  • Organizations you belong to and possibly help lead

These can be family, friends, complete strangers, organizations, services, or communities. And, of course, this idea can apply to all areas of your life. It makes sense that you would naturally give a lot more to the people and services that really impacted and invested in you, and relatively less to those who just moderately impacted you.

3. Take a systematic approach to giving.

This idea is my favorite. I’ve taken it and run with it. What I mean by “systematic approach” is this: reflect on every area of your life, make a plan for it, and keep track of it.

Most people, when they give, guesstimate how much they’ve given already for the year and decide that they might like to give a little; then they write a check to a single organization and call it good for the rest of the year.

Let me challenge you to do this instead: flip your logic on its head and plan on how you will allocate your giving when the year is just starting!

What?! Yep, think of it sort of like a stock portfolio. It doesn’t make much sense to put your entire life savings into one stock. Instead, you create a diverse portfolio.

What does your giving portfolio look like? Have you only been giving to the poor outside your country these last few decades? What about people who need your help in your church, in your neighborhood, or in your band? I’m not saying don’t give to the poor; rather, I’m saying that you’re probably missing out on so many other areas where your giving can and should make an impact.

For me, I like to think of churches as mutual funds: you invest in them, and they in turn invest in lots of various programs, people, and organizations. That’s great, and I allocate a large portion of my giving to my home church. But what about all of those things I mentioned in #2 above? Where do they fit in?

That’s why I highly recommend you design your own giving portfolio and set amounts or percents you would like to make sure to give to each area by the end of each year. To do this, you’ll likely need to keep track of it, just like you keep track of your stock portfolio.

Need a jumping off point? Here’s my current breakdown that I use for my monetary giving. Remember, the percentages don’t really matter, nor do the actual categories (you’ll obviously notice my Christian bias, but make categories that make sense for you). The point is that you take a look at what you give and where you’re giving it… and plan ahead!

My current monetary giving plan.


Put your money where your mouth is.

Closed walletI believe in these concepts so much that I’ve even integrated my giving into my backend music tracking system and have been using this system for the last 5 to 10 years already. In other words, when new royalties and income get imported, my system auto-calculates the total amount of that income that I would like to give (based on a predetermined percent of total income I want to give). I can then click a link and that money gets imported into a giving system that I also made, which divides up that income into all of the categories like I mentioned in #3 above.

Then, my wife and I use that system to see how much we’ve given in each category and how much we still have “available” to give in each category. When we give, we keep track of it all in that same giving system so that it’s all automated as much as possible and the totals stay up-to-date (yes, you can call me a “geek”… I won’t feel offended). 🙂

Do you have any success stories with giving, or even want to give a shout out to those who made an impact in your music career? Why not use the comment system below to share your story?

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