We Make A Life By What We Give

December 1, 2014

I wrote last week about being thankful the small things. One of the small things I’m thankful for is helping others. This quote above from Winston Churchill captures that sentiment very well.

Over the course of the year, I donate my time and money to a bunch of different causes that are important to me. As part of my annual personal goal setting, I pick an an amount of money I’d like to donate in the year and a few organizations I would like to donate my time to.

I would encourage you to pick a few organizations this Tuesday to donate to for #GivingTuesday. Whether $5 or $100, every donation makes a difference. And more importantly, I hope it provides you a bit more meaning in your life.

What To Think About When Donating

  • Check Your Charity: Go to Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org) and research the quality of your charity. If you’re looking for a few good charities to donate to (or not donate to), check out their Top 10 lists (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten).
  • If Possible, Donate to a Level That Gets You Involved: If all you can give is $5, do it. But if you can give more, consider giving at a level where you’re invited to participate at some level. For example, I donate to my local NPR station as a High Fidelity member. (Just means I donate monthly.) As a High Fidelity member, I get invited to a few station tours and behind the scenes events throughout the year. It helps me see where my money is going and I feel more connected to my donation.
  • **Donate Where Your Passions Are: **It’s easy to donate to one of the Top 10 charities, but are you personally interested in what they’re doing? A number of years ago, I got connected with a charity that was building internet access points in Africa. I was fascinated by their requirements (low power, limited number of moving parts, etc). Not only did I donate money, but I offered my services to help them secure their infrastructure.
  • **Join In: **It’s easy to donate money, it’s much harder to donate your time. Which means many of these charities need your time. Go back to all of the recommendations above, but consider adding your time. Many people like to find a way to donate their professional time (i.e. fix computers if you’re a computer guy, write legal documents if you’re a lawyer). For me, it’s the opposite. I like to get away from my professional life and do something different.
  • **Reassess: **There are a few charities I no longer donate to. One in particular mailed me elaborate and expensive packages to encourage me to donate. (I prefer my donation to help people, not get more people to donate.) If you’ve donated in prior years, how do you feel about your donation?

There is no better time than now to add a small bit of happiness to you and others.