Giving Back, Ways to Improve the World Now

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As a Family

  1. Pack gift bags for homeless people. Fill bags with practical and fun items. Some ideas include granola bars, water bottles, toothpaste and warm gloves or socks. Keep the bags in your car, and hand them out to homeless people you encounter on your daily commutes.
  2. Take lunches to people who work over the holidays. Police stations, fire stations, hospitals, and even retail stores are full of busy workers on holidays. Make some delicious sack lunches to take to the workers in your area who don’t get a break over the holidays.
  3. Tackle a bigger cause. Older kids are especially sensitive to the world’s injustices. Talk with your kids about problems – whether local or worldwide – that they’re passionate about. Then, do some research about the issue to find practical ways to help. Assist your kids in sponsoring a bigger fundraising event to help tackle this issue.

As an Individual

  1. Offer to help family. Many adult children presume their parents will speak up if they need anything. This is not always the case, especially when they have been independent for years. Older people – parents, aunts and uncles, long-time family friends – are often reluctant to share their growing frailty, loneliness, or isolation with their children. Drop by for coffee on a Saturday morning, mow the yard, or accompany elderly parents on a shopping trip. Invite them to your child’s soccer games or other family activities. Provide an inexpensive computer with access to email and Facebook (and lessons to learn the new technology), or schedule regular visits to brighten their day.
  2. Volunteer at your local school. Educators are overworked, stressed, and disillusioned about the educational infrastructure – and they need help. Despite knowing that schools work best when the community is actively involved, too many people believe it is someone else’s responsibility to solve the problems of education. Whether you read stories to elementary school students, monitor outdoor activities, chaperone field trips, or spend a Saturday beautifying the school grounds, your efforts will be recognized and appreciated. Moreover, you can make an investment that will pay dividends in the future
  3. Coach a local youth team. Playing sports teaches kids teamwork, responsibility, and the joy of being physically fit. There are openings in almost every sport in every community for compassionate teachers and volunteer coaches. While some experience is helpful, it’s not always essential for you to be a good youth league coach.

As a Company

  1. Encourage your team to volunteer. Here’s an idea that you can borrow from some of the biggest companies in the world; encourage volunteerism by offering paid time off for volunteering for a charity of their choice. Giving employees a specific amount of time each month, quarter, or year for volunteer work will improve morale. It will also increase your business’s community involvement. You can also volunteer as a team for organizations like Habitat for Humanity. This action increases team building within your organization. Most houses are built on weekends so that your work week isn’t too disrupted. Encouraging employees to volunteer for causes they care about works great in enhancing employee happiness.
  2. It helps in recruiting and retaining talent.
    Share your skills and experience. As a business owner in your community, you possess a wealth of valuable talent, expertise, and knowledge. Put those skills to good use by teaching classes or a specialized skill. Help local residents by volunteering for a nonprofit. For example, if you’re a website designer, you could build and maintain the website for a local nonprofit.
  3. Launch a charity drive. If money and scheduled time are in short supply, you can still be charitable by starting a clothing, book, or food drive. Start by donating the items a local nonprofit. Homeless shelters and food banks always need help and supplies. Helping local drives for charity can be an extremely cost-effective option. You can help in small ways throughout the year. Your employees may have some great ideas for you. Consider such options as a coat drive in the fall or a fan and air conditioner drive in the summer.

While money is always appreciated in serving people in need, time and effort is just as important, if not more so. Plus, giving of your time, energy, and effort provides you with immediate feedback as to what your contribution means to those receiving it.

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