December 1, 2015 is nationally recognized as Giving Tuesday. A simple idea following a day of giving thanks and a weekend of shopping, Giving Tuesday was established to inspire people to not only give away gifts this holiday season, but to truly give back – to their families, to their communities, and to those in need. The holidays inspire a certain generosity that should be celebrated, but also extended throughout the rest of the year. But how should we approach giving? Where do we start?
1. Show off your talents. What are you good at? What do you care about? Volunteer Match will connect your skill set with a charity in need. Whether you’re a writer, an animal lover, a tech genius, are bilingual, or are an impeccable organizer, there is a charity that needs you.
2. Sponsor a child. Not ready for parenthood yourself? Us either. But we do sponsor a ten-year-old girl named Laurent and an eight-year-old boy named Benison. Our monthly contribution helps provide them with food, clothes, and school supplies. There are several organizations that help care for children in need. If you need a starting place, check out Fastina Derestil's Hands for Haiti.
3. Be an organ donor. You aren’t going to make an impact today (hopefully), but you will have the opportunity to change lives even after you are no longer on this planet. You can sign up here.
4. Walk the dog. Do you have a free lunch hour or afternoons off? Volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog while they’re at work. Better yet, seek out the elderly dog-owning population in your neighborhood and offer to help get their dogs out several times a week (especially in the winter time).
5. Celebrate your birthday in style. Throw a birthday bash, and ask that your guests donate to your favorite charity in lieu of another bottle of wine or iTunes giftcard.
6. Work out. Ever heard of the app Charity Miles? Why not make a difference while keeping fit? Corporate sponsors will pay your favorite charity for every mile you’re on the move (up to 25 cents per mile for every walker/runner and up to 10 cents per mile for you bikers).
7. Pack an extra lunch. Whether you brown bag it or eat out, keep a packed lunch (of sorts) in your car at all times. This lunch could be filled with protein bars, bottled water, fruit, sandwiches or even socks and blankets. Next time you pass a homeless person, give them your extra lunch.
8. Become a fashion expert. Dress for Success encourages financial independence through career attire, advice, and mentorship. Donate your clothes and also your advice on how to dress and act the part of a true career woman.
9. Supersize your grocery purchase. For less than an upgraded soda at McDonald’s, you can donate to a number of different charities at your local pharmacies or grocery stores. When the cashier asks if you’d like to donate $1 to fund cancer research or the local soup kitchen, just say yes. You won’t miss that dollar, but when combined with your community’s dollars, you will make an impact.
10. Shop online. By using GoodSearch as your search engine, the organization will donate 50% of its advertising to any charity you choose. By using their online store GoodShop, a portion of your purchases will be donated to charity as well. You can shop at hundreds of online retailers, oftentimes with coupons and promotional codes, and the retailers will help fund research, end hunger, and educate populations. Is there anything more of a win-win?
However you give back, choose something you are passionate about. Volunteerism and donations should not be some heartless obligation; every effort should be meaningful and intentional. One of our favorite thoughts on giving back comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson; he reminds us that, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” So go. Succeed. Celebrate Giving Tuesday. Give abundantly. Live fully.
Until next time,
Emily and Kelsey