Giving back can be one of the most fun things you do, if it’s something that aligns with your values. Here are some tips to make sure your 2010 philanthropic goals are on built on solid ground.
By Jane Hess Collins
Most of us build giving back into our lifestyles, so what if you resolved in 2010 to find the way of giving back that best aligns with your values, time and interests? I’ll bet that when you find a way of giving back that holds meaning for you, you’ll love doing it, and you’ll do it more often.
Tommy Moore, whose South Carolina-based strategic planning business is based on Tom Paterson’s “Living the life you were meant to live,” agrees. Moore said that when we “live into our passions [we] benefit because we are serving from a position of high energy and interest … Over the years I have had many [clients] return to say that learning what to say “no” to was one of their greatest learning.”
So how do you give back in a way that has meaning for you? Here are just two suggestions:
Do something you love to do. This may or may not be the same as what you do for a living. If your passions are 180 degrees from your occupation, here’s your excuse to let your inner actor, fireman or animal lover come out to play. Audition with your community theater, train as an emergency medical technician volunteer or rescue abandoned or puppy mill dogs.
If you love your career, use your professional skills to contribute. For example, Tracey Madsen, a former Judge Advocate General for the United States Air Force and now a civilian lawyer for the United States Marine Corps, suggests that lawyers could read to the blind or elderly “because we’ve had to do so much [reading],” help local community organizations write grant proposals or volunteer as a guardian ad litem representing children.
Connect with those you serve. If you’re a step or two removed from the people you help, consider including a more hands-on approach. If you raise funds for the homeless, serve a meal or two at the shelter. If you’re a board member for a children’s hospital, visit the kids before or after the next meeting. Connecting is powerful, and even exchanging a “hello” with someone on the receiving end of your donation, fund-raiser or board position puts a face and a memory on why you do what you do.
With the January 18 National Day of Service a few days away, I hope you’ll find an event that excites you, that promises interaction and is even out of your comfort zone a little. Me? I’ll be serving donuts to residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Sweet in so many ways.