If you are anything like me, a very small online business owner, you know how nerve racking it is to be selling in the largest market there is out there—the World Wide Web. Besides the up side of having more customers to sell to, we’ve also got a ton of competitors from all over the world selling the same stuff constantly undercutting each other’s prices.
Some of us are living the life, but some of us are barely making it.
Sailing Away from eBay
Just recently, eBay suspended my account for “poor seller performance.” My account had a 100% rating with no negative feedback for a year (the span of time that matters and shows up on your eBay feedback), and all of a sudden one customer (also a Power Seller) decided to bid on a bunch of my items and demand a discount for multiple items he bought all at the same time (he wanted to sell the items on his shop, which was fine by me). As a barely-making-it seller, I kindly refused to give the discount because I knew as a customer he could not do that and also believed it was not fair for this customer to demand a discount after bidding fair and square. A bid is a contract a customer has to fulfill by continuing to purchase. After his subsequent threat to leave feedback that “reflected high cost of shipping” and my continuing to hold my ground knowing that this threat was feedback extortion, this customer/seller proceeded to leave negative feedback for each item he bought from me because of the discount he did not get. This ultimately led to my account’s faulty automatic-by-algorithm low performance rating and eventual unjust suspension.
Feelings brewing in me were a mix of bewilderment, anger, and depression, but I had to keep my grief on a leash. This happens to innocent people all the time. I need to make this a graceful experience worthy of praise, so I am choosing to move on from eBay and from this person. Maybe, at least for now.
Swimming into Etsy
I have since moved my business to Etsy selling vintage clothes and accessories. Etsy, although way cooler than eBay is not as popular as eBay for now. Since eBay took away my living, this desperate nomad had no choice but to move elsewhere. As expected, I am not doing too well on Etsy compared to eBay. Looking at the bright side, I’ve made two sales so far since putting up items on Etsy a month ago. Realistically, it’s definitely not enough to feed anyone living in America.
So, the saving giant that took my family out of the tragedy of 2009 layoffs turns out to be the same monster that steals it all away years later. It’s a tale of truth we find in all aspects of life.
How To Be Generous When You DON’T Have “Enough” Money
Now on to the question of generosity. Do you have to be “rich” or have a bit of “extra” money to donate? The answer, of course, is no. The story of the widow’s offering in the Bible tells of an inspiring story of generosity:
The Widow’s Offering (Mark 12: 41-43)
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Some people consider eating healthy an expensive but unnecessary choice. To my husband and I, it is almost a matter of life and death because of the sickness we went through. See our story about mold illness. It’s not easy to continue sustaining our health after losing half of your income. Thankfully, we have other means of getting by, and I have fitness instructing to look forward to in a few months.
However, no matter what excuse I may have… I know I must give. That’s what we are to do especially as Christians for the least of our brothers (Mark 25:40).
You may not know where to start, how much to give, where to get the money, etc. If you own a small business like on Etsy or eBay for example, you can donate a percentage of your sales to a charity of your choice. Make sure to keep track of all your sales on a spreadsheet then donate a portion of that to them at the end of the month. You help others in need when others help you in your business. That is the wonderful side effect of giving through your store.
Choosing Who To Give To
I may not be making much at all, but I committed to giving 15% of my humble earnings from Etsy to the Philippine Red Cross to aid the Filipino victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. I was born and raised in the Philippines, so I chose to give in this area of need. I have seen with my own eyes poverty and lived among paupers, and it is a truly heartbreaking sight. Though never among the rich, I am blessed and very grateful that I did not grow up hungry.
Photo from CNN
We’ve all been given unique circumstances and backgrounds by our creator, which usually draws us to one or a few areas of need. When you feel particularly moved by a certain cause, it is a good indication that that is where you need to serve. I have friends who are living paycheck to paycheck who feel strongly against slavery, so they are actively supporting conflict-free products and fights against human trafficking. Just like the widow in the temple, their generosity is much more inspiring to me than wealthy people’s giving.
Your thought: “I’ve got no money for myself, so how can I give to others?”
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
– Mark 25:40