Editor’s Note: This is the fifth post in the 5 signs of a great life series. Click on the introductory post for links to all 5 signs at the end of the series.
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”– Maya Angelou
You’re healthy, financially stable, surrounded by supportive people, and have goals for your life. What now?
Giving back, of course.
Not everyone has a healthy start in life, and some people run into significant illness or hardship. They need your compassion, your time, and sometimes your dollars to get back on their feet.
If we focused on righting every wrong we’d never get anything done, so the smart bet is to choose one or two causes and devote your volunteer time and donations there.
“…volunteers were 42% more likely to be very happy than non-volunteers. It didn’t matter whether gifts of money and time went to churches or symphony orchestras…givers to all types of religious and secular causes were far happier than non-givers.” — Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey
Volunteering does not have to be a formal commitment, though organizations do perform better when they reliably know when volunteers can work.
If you aren’t ready for ongoing formal volunteering, you can start by donating money or specific business products/services to your favorite causes.
Nonprofits need help with the same kinds of things every other business does and often rely on pro bono help from experts to get it done:
- Website creation/maintenance
If you do have a few hours a month to give, contact the volunteer coordinator and explain what you have to offer and how much time you can give. She will be happy to show you what kind of work is available and what your contribution will do for the organization.
Not sure where you want to donate your time? Consider these options:
- Women’s shelters
- Literacy/education programs
- Homeless shelters
- Artistic groups – symphony, theater, community chorus
- Religious organizations
- Big Brothers/Big Sisters
- The Red Cross
- The Humane Society
And of course a daily “give back” philosophy will allow you to do many small acts of kindness often: holding the door for someone, putting a few coins into an expired parking meter, giving directions to someone who’s lost.
How do you give back to your community? Do you feel 42% happier than non-volunteers?