It’s a common question; can I afford to donate my money or time to a charity or non-profit organization?
And the answer is a resounding YES!
You don’t have to be wealthy or have an abundance of time to give. Even the simplest things can make a difference. Have you ever thrown some change in the Salvation Army red kettle during the holidays? Or given blood at your job or local supermarket during a blood drive? Then guess what, you have donated and are helping someone in need.
But if you haven’t yet, or want to get more involved, don’t wait - now is the time to get started!
We’ve all heard them before, and you may have even used one or two of them yourself (believe me I have). Do any of these sound familiar?
- I just don’t have any time
- They probably have enough volunteers already
- My small donation of time/money won’t matter
- I’m not qualified or don’t have the expertise
- I have kids and they take up all of my time
Nothing can be farther than the truth! Take a second and think about it, really think about it. None of those excuses should stop you from taking the next step…
Okay are you ready?
Next you’ll need to decide whether to donate money to a charity or volunteer some of your time? Maybe you can even do both.
For me personally, there’s nothing more rewarding than volunteering your time and in some cases your knowledge and expertise. You’ll be amazed at the plethora of things you can do…
- Coach or officiate an athletic league in your area
- Teach someone how to play an instrument
- Mentor a student
- Donate platelets or plasma
- Visit a senior center, VFW or children’s hospital
- Help renovate or build a home
- Be a class mom/dad
- Serve meals at a soup kitchen
- Assist with a community garden
- Volunteer at your local church, synagogue or mosque
It can even be as simple as building awareness for a cause (for example: ice bucket challenge, PTSD push-up challenge*, or wearing a t-shirt promoting a cause or event).
So how do you get started?
- Choose an organization or charity that is meaningful to you. Are you passionate about helping the homeless, or those that are ill? Do you love animals?
- Create a list with up to five organizations and narrow your choice down to the top two or three.
- Decide if you and the organization are a mutual fit? Do you believe in their mission statement? Do they have locations near you that are easy to reach? Visit the organization/charity and learn more.
- How often do you want to volunteer?
It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment. It can be as little as one or two days a year, or a few hours a month, once a week or every other day. You’re in control and this is where you have flexibility to fit your schedule. You’ll be amazed; just a few hours of your time can make a tremendous difference and make you feel unbelievable.
Here are some online resources that can assist you with the process.
Still not sure?
Talk to family, friends and co-workers. There may be someone that is already involved and can assist you in taking the next step. Then make a decision.
Even if after all of that, you decide “this just isn’t for me” it’s okay. Volunteering isn’t for everyone. But keep your mind open to it. One day if it’s the right fit, give it a try; you might be surprised how much you enjoy it.
Short on time, don’t worry. Charities can use your financial support too! It can be as simple as making a monetary donation on their website. I recommend you go through the same process as volunteering to find your match.
Even though there is a world of good in donating, be very leery of charities that commit too much to fund raising and administrative expenses and not enough to the actual programs they represent. A fair breakdown is 25% and 75%.
Fortunately there are plenty of websites that can help. They rate charities and provide a thorough analysis of these organizations. I find Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org ) to be a solid choice especially since it’s America’s largest independent evaluator. There are other good options too, like Give (www.give.org ) or Charity Watch (www.charitywatch.org/home ).
It’s ultimately your choice….money or time – either way it’s a win-win for you and those you will help.
The rewards are tremendous:
- Plain and simple, you just feel good doing it
- Impact and improve a life or lives
- One good deed leads to another - transform your life and others
- Broaden your horizon with a new experience
- Connect with others through community
- You’ve made a difference, no matter how big or small
There’s a saying, “It’s in giving that you truly receive.” Take the next step, you won’t regret it.
*If you’re interested in supporting our servicemen and women, please donate to one of these great organizations: