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31 Days of Giving on a Budget: The Joy of Giving Anonymously (Day 17)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Anonymous reader testimony. 

We recently had the pleasure of giving a sizable gift to an acquaintance who is in great need — and we gave it anonymously. It reminded me once again of how fun it is to give!!

We recruited an out-of-town aunt of a friend to hand-deliver an envelope for us. She didn’t know the exact contents of the envelope, but just that it was meant to bless the recipient. Afterward, the friend’s aunt even thanked us for the chance to be part of the process.

In addition, the acquaintance who received the gift chatted with me for a minute and told me about the gift, calling it “the biggest blessing of my life”. It was so fun to be able to rejoice with her, all while she had no clue the gift originated from us!

After several years of doing this type of thing, my husband and I agree that it’s our favorite way to give personal charitable gifts. The fact that we are anonymous means that our relationship with the receiver is not affected at all; there is no sense of obligation or superiority whatsoever!

We also reduce the chance of being approached for an additional gift in the event that the receiver would do such a thing. We truly can say that it has been a pleasure, and that we feel like we are God’s instruments rather than the ones really giving the gift!

Have you ever given a gift (large or small) anonymously?

Other posts in the 31 Days of Giving on a Budget series

  1. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Turn a Ladies' Night Out into an Opportunity to Give Back
  2. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Volunteering in Your Community (Day 2)
  3. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Teaching Our Children to Be Givers (Day 3)
  4. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Teaching Our Children To Be Gracious Receivers (Day 4)
  5. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Charity Begins at Home (Day 5)
  6. 31 Days of Giving: The Healing Power of Giving (Day 6)
  7. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Random Acts of Kindness (Day 7)
  8. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 6 Creative Gift-Giving Ideas for a Limited Budget (Day 8)
  9. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: "Give, and it shall be given to you..." (Day 9)
  10. 31 Days of Giving: Hospitality on a Budget (Day 10)
  11. 31 Days of Giving: What Our Children Are Teaching Us About Being Givers (Day 11)
  12. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Blessings in a Backpack (Day 12)
  13. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 40 Days of Fasting From Excess (Day 13)
  14. 31 Days of Giving: Giving Away as Much as We Save (Day 14)
  15. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 7 Ways to Give Generously (Day 15)
  16. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Freezer Cooking for the Elderly (Day 16)
  17. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: The Joy of Giving Anonymously (Day 17)
  18. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 3 Fun Ways for Children to Give (Day 18)
  19. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: The Hunger Site (Day 19)
  20. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Using Frugality to Splurge on Others (Day 20)
  21. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 5 Inexpensive Ways to Give (Day 21)
  22. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Teaching Our Children to be Givers By Setting Examples in Our Everyday Life (Day 22)
  23. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Blessing Bags (Day 23)
  24. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Giving... Even In Helpless Situations (Day 24)
  25. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Finding Joy in Helping Others (Day 25)
  26. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 5 Ways to Give Generously Through Couponing (Day 26)
  27. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 3 Ways to Give Gratitude to Those in the Military (Day 27)
  28. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Teaching Children the Spirit of Giving (Day 28)
  29. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 4 Ways to Give on a Limited Income
  30. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Why We "Gave Christmas Away"
  31. 31 Days of Giving on a Budget: The More We Save, The More We Have to Give

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42 Comments

  • Shannon Runnels says:

    Love giving anonymously… whether a smaller gift (like paying for a friend’s homeschool co-op dues) or a bigger gift (like dropping off hundreds of dollars of food and gifts for a family in need). It’s a great feeling!

  • Shonda says:

    This was such a timely post for me! Today I was running around for appointments when I stopped at McDonald’s for a quick lunch. A family with a young boy came in and ordered 3 glasses of water, a couple of cheeseburgers and one order of fries. The woman dug through her purse and counted out change to pay for their meal. I finished my meal, walked up to the counter and spoke with a manager. I gave her a $50 bill and asked her to please take a gift card over to the family as I walked out the door. It was an amazing feeling to be able to bless someone else, when a year ago, I was in the same position financially as this family appeared to be. I can’t wait to see who else I can help!

  • Shelly says:

    We have done this before and it was so much fun to do. We did it for some friends of ours and it was great fun. They kept trying to figure out who gave it to them as we left it on their doorstep and they found it an hour later. They really enjoyed the gift and it was fun to give it.

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Last week at Bible study someone I’ve known for years told me she wanted to bless a mother with a young child, and asked if I knew of anyone in need. At just that moment, an about-to-burst pregnant mama was coming to my class to pick up her toddler, and I knew that things were tight financially for them. I indicated this young mama to my friend, and within a few minutes I had a wad of bills in my hand with instructions to pass them on anonymously to the younger lady. When I approached the pregnant mama and told her someone asked me to give her money, she was incredulous and got tears in her eyes as she told me she’d just been thinking that her car was on empty and she had no money for gas. I assured her the money was from God, and I think I was as excited as she was.

    This was the first time I’ve been the go-between, and it was great fun! 🙂 It made me want to keep finding ways to allow other people to be in that blessed position of “giver” when we choose to give anonymously.

  • jenn says:

    I had a classmates in nursing school that was a single mom. I bought some groceries, a nice bath set for her, a few toys for her son and threw in a grocery store gift card and a Walmart card. I left them in her car before class. When we went to lunch later, she thought for sure it wasn’t for her.

    A year prior, a close friend was newly divorced and living in a small cabin of some other friends. Through church meals, we had an idea what he likes and packed up a box of groceries for him
    We left them in is his truck. It made us smile to see his status thanking the person for his favorite cookies….oreos.

  • Annie says:

    A few years ago, a group where I work sold roses as a fundraiser on Valentine’s Day. I decided to buy one for a woman who had recently started working with me. She was a single mom who had moved here from another state, and I knew she was having a hard time being away from her extended family. I left the rose on her desk with an anonymous note letting her know we were glad she had come to work with us.
    A few hours later she stopped me in the hall and told me about the rose she had received. (She had no idea it was from me.) She said that in her hometown, her brother’s wife brought her a rose every year on Valentine’s Day, and she was missing that tradition this year. So we was deeply touched when this rose mysteriously appeared on her desk.
    I think sometimes God puts it in our hearts to do something special for someone just when they need an extra boost in their day!

  • Anonymous says:

    We aren’t rich but we are blessed to have enough and know that everything we have belongs to God. My husband and I love to share with others and try to do so (anonymously) several times throughout the year. When God lays a need on our hearts, we’ll usually send a gift card or the needed item, sometimes through another person or through the mail. I think it’s blessed us even more than it has the receiver.

    • Sara says:

      We have been on the other side several times. When our son was diagnosed with leukemia the cards and random money in the mailbox was such a blessing. It was so helpful to not worry about all the bills but focus on our child who was sick and our other two children as well. When our son was about one year into his 3 1/2 year treatment plan our house was robbed and once again we were blessed. Our children were given a wii and someone ordered me an exact replica of my camera and had it sent anonymously. Now that we can see the light at the end of this cancer journey, our eyes have been more focused on how we can give back to our community that helped keep us on our feet.

  • Mel says:

    This is one of our very favorite things to do at Christmas! We choose a family in our area that is struggling due to job loss, medical issues, etc. and then buy a gift card to a grocery store or supercenter. Then we send it anonymously in the mail, making sure to disguise our handwriting. 🙂 We feel it is such a privelege to bless others in the name of Jesus!

  • Deb says:

    Truly the best and most fun way to give, we have given a used car, doctor bills, medical bills, Bibles, food, cash, and books, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE anonymous giving and watching them be sooo excited and not have any weirdness between us. Just did it again this week. No matter how big or small, orchestrating it to give anonymously is definitely my favorite way to give. It is such a blessing as we have been on both sides of the coin, (harder to be on the receiving end) but that makes the giving now so much sweeter and such a blessing. SOOOO much to be thankful for.

  • Anonymous says:

    Earlier this year at a conference, I was returning to the main venue when I noticed a young couple. The wife had her arms full with a baby and a toddler and, despite there being many people around, the husband was very loudly reprimanding her, something about not bothering him while he was on the phone. I can’t describe to you how horrible it felt to witness that; I felt so embarrassed for her. It was like he had no shame putting her down like that in public. The whole scene became like a “dark cloud” over my otherwise very enjoyable weekend. I could not get her out of my thoughts and started praying that God would give me an opportunity to somehow encourage her.

    The very next day she came over to the book table I was working at and started browsing the products. I ended up getting to talk to her a little bit, and she was very sweet. She finally made her purchase of 1 book, saying that she was going to have to forgo another one I highly recommended (it was “Loving the Little Years” – encouragement for Moms of little ones) since she only had $20 to spend and it wouldn’t cover both. After she had left and sat down with her family not far away, God gave me an idea. I purchased the book myself, walked over to her and said that someone had anonymously wanted to bless her with it. She was so grateful and started looking around to see if she could spot her mysterious giver. 🙂 I can’t tell you the joy I felt in being able to bless the very person that I had prayed God would give me the opportunity to. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. And blessing people anonymously can be so much fun!

    • Lindsey says:

      Regarding watching the husband berating his wife: a few years ago I was going into a Blockbuster Video store and a boy of about 5 held the dor open for me. A few minutes later I heard a man yelling at the child, telling him that letting “some old fat woman” in before them meant they were not going to be first in line to check out. I was not thrilled about being called an old fat woman, but I felt much, much worse about what he was teaching the child. After I was done checking out, I walked up to the father with a smile and said, “I wanted to let you know that your son held the door open for me a little while ago. I was so impressed that in this day and age there are still parents like you, teaching manners to their children. God will bless you for being such a good father.” He stammered around and I said thank you again and left. It may not have changed him, but at lewast it let the little guy know someon appreciated his manners.

  • Kelly says:

    Recently the well on our property collapsed and we were left without water. It’s a long story, but we felt The Lord calling us to just wait on Him for provision – we would have had to borrow quite a bit of money to have it repaired. Over the course of 9 weeks (living with our parents!) The Lord provided over $10,000 to us, much of it anonymously. This gave us the opportunity to give all the credit and glory to The Lord, and we were stretched in our faith and our ability to really show thankfulness to Him. We are now back in our house with water (!) and we are renewed in our love for The Lord.

  • Alicia says:

    It’s been some years, but we were able to give larger amounts financially to those in need in the past. I have to share a gift we received last week, anonymously. I’m typing on it…it’s a top of the line MacBook Pro laptop. We were stunned when we received it last week, it’s a $2,800 machine! Amazing. God is so good and so creative to bless us this way!

  • Victoria says:

    We like to give! So much fun, I hope my kids grow up loving to give too! This year we gave money to our pastor to give to a family in church. The next thing was that I won the same amount of money for filling out a survey, which enabled us to buy a nice gift for our giving tree at church ( a book series we wanted, so I don’t sound too altruistic!) I have also paid for child care anonymously and last idea/way to give I think is worth sharing: we bought gift cards to an inexpensive fast food restaurant to hand out when presented the opportunity. I keep them in my car. It’s cold here in the winter and the shelters close by 7am, so a gift card to this restaurant gives people a warm place to sit for a little while. Ok, one last one! Cup of Joe- have you heard of that? As little as $2 can give a deployed soldier a cup of coffee and a thank you note. 🙂

  • Sara says:

    This is on the very small end but I leave my quarter in the shopping cart at Aldi’s and pray a blessing for the person who finds it 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      This is actually not a small thing. In the past month I have had to carry my groceries around twice because I didn’t have a quarter. (I know, I know, how hard is it to have a quarter?!) This is extra difficult with a toddler! I think I will follow your lead and remember to bring a couple extras to bless those after me next time I go. Great idea!

    • Allison says:

      This is also a small thing, but when I go to the grocery store, I try to leave a couple of the coupons that I’m not going to use next to the corresponding products on the shelf. I’ve found coupons this way and its nice to save an unexpected 50 cents or a dollar.

    • L says:

      I try and always give it to the person walking past me when I am done unloading my groceries. They always want to hand me the 25 cents and I tell them no thanks that someone gave it to me and they should pass it on. You would think I have them $100 they are always so shocked and it is only a quarter! But I do believe that sometimes the smallest things can brighten someone’s day!

  • Melinda says:

    We love a bless anonymously. One special blessing was my best friend’s daughter was getting married and she had stated how tight money was. So I found out who the cater’s were went there gave them the money(cash so they didn’t know who I was) to pay for the reception. After a beautiful wedding and reception my friend pull me aside crying saying someone had paid for the catering. She wish she knew who it was because she was blown away that someone would do that for them!! I was more blessed than her!!

  • Jamie says:

    I loved this post. Thank you so much for putting it out there. I also love to give anonymously. There are some folks I know that have really sown into my life, that I have had the opportunity to be good to in the last few years. I don’t like to give with my name on the gift, because I don’t want them to think I have an agenda in giving. But I can give anonymously and they are just as blessed, and that’s all I care about. There’s nothing better. So glad to hear some other folks feel the same. 🙂

  • Cindi B says:

    This is my absolute favorite way to give! I get a giddy happy feeling from being just a little sneaky and I adore the surprise that the recipient gets, even if I’m never there to see their reaction. I try to do this throughout the year, whether just paying for an order behind me at the drive-through, or dropping off an anonymous donation with a charity. So much fun!

  • Emily says:

    We love being able to do this. Sometimes its hard to find a way to get the money to the family anonymously, but God always provides a way.

  • Anon says:

    I just did this! I know a single mom who often struggles to make ends meet. I know that if I offered help directly to her, she would refuse. I called the electric company and told them I didn’t have any idea what her bill amount was, but I wanted to pay a specific amount on her account and I didn’t want her to know where it came from. They just added a note in her account that the payment was made by an anonymous friend and then, after the payment was made, deleted my bank info so that it wouldn’t accidentally be used again. It’s wonderful to be able to bless others in a way that doesn’t leave them feeling obligated to you or ashamed for receiving help.

  • Jay Kay says:

    A couple of years ago my husband and I gave $200 to a family that we knew at our children’s school. They were having a hard time. They had two small children. My husband and I agreed that we wanted to help their kids have a nice Christmas. It was one of the most rewarding things we have ever done!

    • Suzy says:

      A few months ago one of my sons daycare providers was looking very thin and I made a comment about her losing weight and she said, “well I can’t afford to feed my kids and myself so I have lost some weight.”

      I went home and emptied our cabinets and placed the food in her car. She was aware that I was the one that did this. (Times are tight at our house as well but I knew this was best. We are still trying to recover from 9 months of unemployment and TWO moves across the country.)

      The next week she had her nails professionally done and a new hair cut and now all the employees are approaching me with sob stories. I am struggling with this! I feel guilty for not helping the others but I feel very burned that each person feels they can come up to me and try to “fish” for items.

      I would like some help and guidance on this. This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. I do like the idea of giving anonymously but how do I get over the feeling of being used?

      Thank you

      • Lois says:

        Our extended family had a discussion about this type of thing the other day–like someone in a parking lot approaching you for money because their car ran out of gas and you give them some and then see them going all over doing the same, or even getting approached by the same person later in a different venue! And we decided it was best to do what the Lord put on our hearts at the time and consider we obeyed Him, but at the same time, we learn how to be as wise as we can. Like we could have offered to go to the gas station with them. As missionaries overseas, it was just assumed we were rich and we were approached for money all the time. We handed out food and went to the pharmacy for medicine, but we also *learned* when to say no. You don’t need to feel guilty. You simply did what was right and because of the world we live in, you now have to turn people down, and that is right too. Don’t become discouraged. You were used because you were generous. It will happen. I’ll pray you are blessed for what you did from your heart.

        • Anna says:

          We’ve had this discussion, too. Usually we will help people, if we can, when they ask. And we know that some of them are illegitimate, but God is still in control (and they’re His resources in the first place). I try to give in the name of Jesus, letting the person who’s gas I’ve just bought know that I’m helping them because Jesus has “helped” me, in my situation (redeemed me from death!). If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to witness, and they can’t really brush you off until the gas is through pumping. 😉

      • Lindsey says:

        I have had a similar thing happen and I have no wise words for how not to feel used. I try to remind myself that the blessing (to me) is in the giving and not in what the receiver does with my generosity. I do know that there have been times in my life when I have made unwise monetary choices that probably drove my now-deceased father (who always gave me generous monetary gifts on my birthday) crazy because being wiser would have meant I didn’t need to be bailed out in the first place. But he never said a word about what I did with what he gave me, and I think now that his grace was just one more gift he gave me. Maybe in the future the lady will remember what you did and use it as a lesson learned or will pass on your generosity to someone who really needs it. No matter what, you did a wonderful thing.

        • Suzy says:

          I can’t thank you two enough for your kind words and guidance! This is exactly what I needed to hear.

          Lois: ” but we also *learned* when to say no. You don’t need to feel guilty. You simply did what was right and because of the world we live in, you now have to turn people down, and that is right too. Don’t become discouraged. ”

          These words ring so true. Thank you for guiding me not to feel guilty and know that is ok to say no but to keep on giving.

          Lindsay:
          You do have wise words!!! ” I try to remind myself that the blessing (to me) is in the giving and not in what the receiver does with my generosity.”

          These wise words will carry me far in life and that not everyone is good with money but that does not mean they can’t use the help and hopefully some day things will turn around for them.

          Thank you once again!!!!

  • April @ ecoMomical Me says:

    Just last night we delivered a freezer meal to someone we don’t even know! We felt lead to deliver a meal to a local trailer park and my husband was lead to a home that looked pretty run down and there were bikes and children’s toys outside. I wrote a note wishing them a Merry Christmas and not to worry about trying to find out who it was from because we didn’t even know them, this is just were the Lord lead us. My husband left it on the front step. We are praying that they found it and got to enjoy the meal.

    In previous years we have gone out to dinner and when we walk in pick someone (with God’s guidance) to pay for their bill. We tell our waiter/waitress to tell them the bill has been taken care off and just to add it to our bill, and to not let the recipients know who paid for it. This is really fun, because you get to see the surprise and joy on the faces of people and it makes giving even better! (We also make sure to give generously to our waiter/waitress!)

    Merry Christmas!

  • Rebekah says:

    My husband and I tithe 10% of our tax return anonymously every year. Since we get a pretty sizable return, it ends up being a big amount. Usually, we ask The Lord to show us 1 person or family to give it to. Last year, we knew The Lord wanted us to give several smaller gifts. We always give it anonymously and it is so, so, so much fun!!

  • celia says:

    Of all the sermons I have ever heard, the one that resonated most with me was the one about giving and remaining anonymous because God knows what you are doing and you needn’t tell anyone else. I try to have all giving remain anonymous. In fact, it is hard for me now to talk about it with our son because I am so used to “giving under the radar”.

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