What is Generosity?


  • Liberality in giving or willingness to give (
  • Nobility of thought or behavior; magnanimity (
  • Amplitude; abundance. (
  • A generous act. (
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” - Stephen Grellet

Cultural Perspective:
A bishop from the United States was preaching before a congregation of African women in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The culture of the Zimbabwe church is for sermons to run long. As the bishop reached the hour mark of the sermon, he began discussing the turbulent relationships between the Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda. The bishop discussed how the refugees had left their homes to find safety leaving virtually all of their belongings, and the bishop told of their desperate need for food and clothing.

At this point, many of the women in the congregation began to disrobe. They brought their garments to the front of the auditorium and piled them before the pulpit. The bishop was startled that the women were donating their clothing to the refugees. (The bishop did say the refugees needed clothing.) The following day the bishop noticed that several women were wearing large plastic bags. They had given away their only piece of clothing. This kind of generosity is a large part of the Shona culture in Zimbabwe. (Hooker, J. (2003). Working across cultures. Stanford: Stanford Business Press.)

Quotes about Generosity:

  • Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege. ~John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
  • If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives. ~Anonymous
  • We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill
  • No act of kindness is ever wasted.  ~Zig Ziglar
  • No one is so generous as he who has nothing to give.  ~French Proverb
  • Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.  ~Albert Camus

Reflective questions about generosity: