Happy Friday! It has been a big week around here. I hung my first piñata in my living room in honor of Rosetta’s birth. (Because You Only Turn Seven Once.) And we got the book back from the editor. Aaand I am finalizing the new website with my designer. In the midst of all this creative work a new desire is bubbling forth. It is currently on simmer. (more on that below)

When we left Dallas I left my volunteering behind.

For several years I had been helping to build up the school garden and it was a wonderful project.

But since we moved to Nicaragua I have needed a break from volunteering. I have needed quite honestly to rest and to focus on the basics: my family, nurturing my coaching business and serving my current clients, and taking care of my own health. (Did I tell you I got not one but two parasites in my first few weeks here? I knew eating those fresh-cut mangoes from the street vendor was not a good idea…. I was pretending I still had the stomach of steel I cultivated when living here for two-years in the Peace Corps.)

But last night I went on a walk with my man and I identified some new dreams. New aspects of life which I am feeling drawn to and ways I want to learn and to give back.

I’ll share more about those as they ripen – but for this week I wanted to revisit and reinvest in a powerful tool: Creating Your Giving Portfolio.

This practice is a lifeline especially in the face of the current events which will break your heart each and every morning before you even get to have your coffee. (Children texting their parents from underneath the rubble after the Mexican earthquake? Hurricanes? And more…)

How to respond in a conscious way?

And to feel like you are contributing to the world you desire not only in the wake of natural disasters or moments of big suffering, but day in and day out? 

Enter The Giving Portfolio

In the same way that we can (and should) create a portfolio to diversity our investments.

The Giving Portfolio lets us contribute in a whole range of ways to the causes which move us and in support of the changes we desire in our world.

You can approach creating your giving portfolio systematically – like deciding to allocate percentages to certain causes. (For example giving half to issues which are “global” and half to “local” needs.)

Or you can just let it unfold organically.

We tend to do a bit of both in our family – trying to balance between human and green/planet causes as well as local and global issues.

Plus we want to leave room for inspiration or to give just because it feels right.

Here is a peak at our current Giving Portfolio. Normally we support three or four at a time, right now we have eight which is a little unwieldy but fits our passions at this life stage:

350.org — a global, green-energy movement to respond to climate change.

NPR  — so grateful for this news source, especially now that we don’t live in the country and access it via the web.

Oxfam — we started giving to Oxfam when we were newly married and first returned from the Peace Corps. For us, this donation is a lifeline and a foundation of our family culture. No matter what season of our life and how much or little money we felt we had to spare (in grad school for example, or when our children were small and we dropped to one income for a season) we knew we wanted to be consistent with this one. Oxfam works to end the root causes of poverty. If you are looking for somewhere to give money to aid in the Mexico earthquake relief (or any natural disaster) they are a beautiful option because they are equipped both for immediate relief efforts and the long term support needed for the rebuild.

Ocean Conservancy — the inspiration to give here came last year when my parents took our family on a cruise.

International Elephant Foundation — this donation supports mounted patrols which prevent poachers in Kenya. You can even see pictures of the houses and meet the rangers which protect the wild animals. This is a kid pleaser! Super concrete.

Education Plus Nicaragua — this grassroots nonprofit teaches children in one of Granada’s poorest neighborhoods how to read and helps to break the cycle of poverty.

The Compassion Collective — Started in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis I love their tag line: “there is no such thing as others peoples children.” Boom. They also support homeless youth in the U.S.

Texas Search and Rescue — We donated here in the wake of the Houston flood. They train volunteers to mobilize in the wake of disasters. We always try to find a way to donate which helps both in the immediate aftermath and also creates some increased capacities going forward so that it is not just a quick fix or band aid.

It is also super important for women to remember that giving is only part of relating well to money.

First actually comes the earning, then the saving/investing, then the giving. Which doesn’t mean that you can’t give before you have earned and saved a ton – far from it! But it does mean that if we are comfortable in our relationship to the first two aspects of money we will actually be equipped to give more. And from a place of security within ourselves.

Beyond (or in addition to money) the giving portfolio also includes where and how we give our time as volunteers.

In the U.S. I took the lead on this for our family. Since we moved to Nicaragua, Rich is the one with the regular volunteer commitments with Education Plus Nicaragua (featured above.)

You should see him staying up late to make flashcards to help the children he is tutoring learn their letters. Don’t tell him I told you but I find it really beautiful how committed he is and how he is creating meaningful relationships with children in a poor neighborhood in our town.

I take comfort in his commitment as the volunteer expression in our portfolio right now even as I need to take a break from it. You can create a giving portfolio as a family or as part of a book club or other committed small group. (You can read more about this and the origin of the giving portfolio practice in my life here.)

Setting these contributions up as regular donations makes me feel like I am consistently putting my money and life energy toward causes I hold most dear, which brings comfort in the wake of a newscycle full of human suffering.

Now over to you.
What is in your Giving Portfolio?

Is your Giving wanting to grow or shift toward new passions?

Can you let yourself volunteer and rest as part of a broader cycle of renewal or do you always feel like you “should” be doing more?

Leave me a comment below.

I’d love to hear! Courtney

Did you catch the recording from this week’s Q & A call about The Flourish Retreat? It will be available for a limited time — and what I cover in it may surprise you. We go deep into a talk about real money, investing in yourself, talking to your family about growth opportunities and more. 

One spot remains for my upcoming Flourish retreat and book launch party in Granada, Nicaragua. Is it yours? This is going to be such a unique and beautiful gathering. You can read all the details and register here.


Courtney Pinkerton is a certified holistic life coach and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Flourish Formula: An Overachiever’s Guide to Slowing Down & Accomplishing More. Courtney is a student and a teacher of the Enneagram who has helped hundreds of conscious women, and a few inspiring men, pursue their most salient goals and discover more pleasure in the everyday. She has dual master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the creator of the flourish coaching methodology and the Flourish Formula for Families. After selling their house and all their belongings and spending a year adventuring in Nicaragua tutored by their neighbors in the art of slowing down and living more, Courtney and her husband Richard Amory and their three children are making their new home in a co-housing community in Asheville, North Carolina.





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