Over and over, we hear about how people these days are always on the go, constantly striving for the elusive work-life balance. Because of this frenzied pace, there’s hardly any time for personal endeavors, including acts of charity. Time, they say, is getting scarcer by the minute. We also hear about how the newer generation is preoccupied with saving for the future; philanthropic deeds, it would appear, are a hindrance to this objective.
Despite all of this talk, studies show that altruism is far from dead.
According to a survey by the National Philanthropic Trust, “Americans gave $410.02 billion in 2017,” increasing 5.2 percent from 2016. The study also found that individuals were the largest source (70 percent) of charitable giving in 2017—surpassing the giving rate of foundations, bequests, and corporations.
Based on those statistics, charitable giving by individuals is actually rising, not declining—and you, too, can be a part of it all.
When deciding how to give back, money donations may first come to mind. However, there are other ways that cost little to nothing. Here are five suggestions.
- Make use of your talents.
What are you good at doing? And how can you use that talent to help make the world a better place?
The answers may be right at your fingertips. (You already know what you’re good at and how you can help.)
Or, some soul-searching may be in order. (You’re not sure if you have any talent, but if you dig deep enough you’ll see that you do.)
For example, if you have a knack for gardening, you can help plant vegetables or flowers for community organizations or schools in your area. If you have a flair for music, you can teach music education to marginalized youths or put on a performance for hospital patients. If you have an eye for graphic design, you can assist community organizations with their advertising and marketing efforts.
- Get your kids involved.
This is one of the most powerful and sustainable forms of charitable giving. Children are our future, and by getting yours involved in philanthropy from early on, you allow them to develop their talents and become more empathetic to the needs of others.
- Send handwritten notes to the sick or disabled.
Nothing says “I care” more than a sincere handwritten note. When you say the words verbally, they may be heard, but the recipient might forget them. When you put the message on paper, however, the recipient will have a tangible reminder of what was said.
So, join an organization that helps the sick or disabled and start writing heartfelt notes to brighten their day.
- Participate in your organization’s philanthropy program.
Corporate philanthropy programs are a growing trend that benefit not just nonprofits but also employees. Programs vary by employer, but may include:
- Matching gifts
- Volunteer grants
- Payroll deductions
- Talent- or service-based donations
- Volunteer support
- Employee fundraising
- Volunteer time off
For example, with matching gifts, your employer matches the contributions you make to the charitable organization. With volunteer time off, your employer pays you for a certain amount of time that you spend volunteering.
- Spread the word about a cause you believe in.
Do you know of a worthy charity that could use some help with money, research, goods, or services? If so, lend a hand by spreading the word. Tell your family, friends, social media network, coworkers and others about the cause—including its mission, history, stakeholders, and long-term goals. Forward correspondences to them, such as event flyers and inspirational videos, and encourage them to share the information with people they know. Passion is infectious—so don’t be afraid to display it when rallying support for the cause.