I am on the Board of Directors for my local Habitat for Humanity Associate and I wanted to spend some time in the public front of our charity. I decided to volunteer in one of our local ReStores and was manning the check out when a lady approached me. She complained about the minimal price on one of the items she was looking at. I thanked her for her feedback and she departed the store. This took me slightly aback because it was the first time I have heard such a statement. I took a moment to process what she had said. This started me thinking about the whole spirit of charity or what it means to being charitable.
I think the lady disconnected from the reason our charity exists, the purpose of the store, and that most people working for us are volunteers. Simply put, the profits generated by the store fund the operational costs of our charity. The priceless donations of money and invaluable time of our volunteers, goes directly to building homes for our partner families who otherwise would not have the privilege of being homeowners.
I think that people need to think about what it means to be charitable. Everyone has a different lot in life but most can find it in themselves to be charitable. Being charitable has become embedded throughout our everyday lives through shopping, by pursuing our hobbies, at our workplaces, and with our celebrations. Most importantly, it does not have to always involve money. Just by doing fun things and living your life to the fullest, you and your family can spread good deeds. After all, being charitable is in the thought and effort not in writing the cheque.
So, thinking outside the boxes. Here are some wonderful and wacky ways to give back, support your favourite causes, and simply make things and life better for all.
Give Stuff to Charity
Being frugally organized can help charity when you take the time and effort to find places that need the things you no longer use. There’s a place for everything, including glasses, cell phones, computers, hearing aids and ink cartridges. Sometimes, your stuff is the last thing you should donate. Check out the dos and don’ts of whatever you have to give to ensure it is suitable and whether the charity in question will accept it.
Make Your Wedding Charitable
From booking the local not for profit botanical gardens for your reception to hiring a theatre group to stage the entertainment, brides and grooms are finding ways to turn their weddings into opportunities for giving back. You can transform almost every aspect of a wedding, and even the honeymoon. There are a lot of strategies out there and some amazing stories of what others have done. Do the research.
Give Gifts That Give Back
Turn conspicuous consumption into doing good. There is hardly a product that doesn’t somehow benefit charity these days. Cause-related marketing is hot among companies, and there is fierce competition to be the best one out there.
Throw a Children’s Party
Valentine’s parties, Birthday parties, Halloween parties, even Kindergarten Graduation parties can be great opportunities to show your kids how good it feels to give rather than receive. The kids will love helping people or animals in need, and they’ll have fun too. Check out ideas from assembling care packages for the troops to making toys for the local cat shelter.
Do you knit, quilt or crochet? Maybe you knit so much that you do not know what to do with it all. Crafting for charity is a great outlet for your talents. If you are into some other form of do-it-yourself project, look for organizations that can use the help of crafters of any type. If photography is your gig, find out how to turn your photographic eye to charitable causes.
Run, Walk, or Bicycle
Getting tired of running around the block? Vary the scenery by running, walking, cycling, or even walking your pet for charity. Charity marathons are everywhere, happen all year round, and are available for just about any disease or cause. Get healthy and do some good at the same time. You don’t have to wait for an event to make your workout a charitable occasion. Just use your smartphone. There are apps where you can make every mile you run walk or shimmy a charitable gift.
Helping our Fur Friends
There is a bonanza of opportunities to help out our wet-nosed, four-legged, jumping for joy friends of the canine variety. They range from adopting a dog to providing donations to animal aid groups to volunteering to train or walk a doggy friend or two.
Bid for Good
Support that favourite charity by doing what you love: buying and selling on eBay. It is all set up through eBay Giving Works, for example. Many charities also have online auctions that you can explore. Some are ongoing, and others are just for certain dates. Either way, you can score an unusual item for a gift or to spruce up your home right from your computer. There are many sites with hundreds of charities posting thousands of items at all price points.
Give Away Frequent Flyer Miles
Are you the King or Queen of frequent flying? Some people have enough frequent flyer miles to be able to give them away. Look for the airlines that have donation programs and the charities they benefit.
Donate Appreciated Assets
Do good and get a tax deduction as well? Donating stocks could allow you to give more than otherwise to your favourite cause. Any appreciated asset can be given, such as stocks, real estate, life insurance policies, bonds, mutual funds, segregated funds, or real estate investment trusts. Check with your Financial Planner for prudent advice and strategies.
On this last part with the approaching year end, we are approached by people looking at charitable gifting strategies or we are working with clients in finalizing their charitable plans in their Financial Life Plans. The important part of such a consideration is to ensure all the pertinent parties are involved including your lawyer and accountant.
My final point is that there are many ideas that can be employed to get into the spirit or charity and being charitable. Everyone can find the way that works best for them. It does not always have to involve money. Time is a valuable contribution even in being a volunteer. It is a very important social endeavour in #KeepingLifeCurrent.