On this blog, I like to feature ideas on ways to give back to your community that are easy and that anyone can do. Being an active philanthropist is not easy work, but there are things we can all do for the benefit of those around us. Here are a few more ideas for donating to charities with money, time, or support.
Take Action – Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or for an established charity like Habitat for Humanity. This is a great way for younger people to develop philanthropic habits before they have the resources do give money to any particular causes. Volunteering can often be the gateway to further charitable endeavors.
Volunteer Virtually – The internet offers so many opportunities for charitable work, and finding the right cause is easier than ever. An article I read recently pointed out something worth remembering about volunteering on the web. Many organizations need help with websites, social media, written content to share. If you have web skills that charities can use, offer them!
Clean Out Your Closet – We all have clothes in our closets and dressers that we are never going to wear again, like the shirt someone gave us that just isn’t our taste, or, alas, the clothes we just don’t fit in anymore. There are people who can use the clothes that you don’t need anymore, so go on a cleaning spree and give away whatever you don’t want to keep.
I honestly did not realize that this was as huge a thing as it is, but charity softball games run by star athletes is apparently a very common occurrence this time of year, when you’ve got both football and basketball in the offseason. It seems like a fun way for athletes to raise money for a good cause, while still doing what they do best – entertaining the fans.
There are a couple of things that make these events really fun. First, you get to see professional athletes playing a different sport, and performing perhaps slightly out of their elements. Yet, their natural skills most likely translate to another sport – especially something as casual as what is essentially pickup softball – so you still probably have a chance to see some impressive feats if you happen to attend. You also see players acting, well, a little goofy since they aren’t playing for championships and big money contracts, and are just sort of having fun playing for a good cause. For example, at Dirk Nowitzki’s recent charity softball game, fans got to see Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys do a backflip in the outfield – something his coach would probably be quite upset with him for if he did it on the football field during a game since he could injure himself.
Charity events like these are really a big win for everyone – not just for the team that wins the softball game. Fans have fun, players have fun, and worthy charities get the support they need.
Here are three things that may initially sound like they have nothing to do with each other, but at least for a day were all very much connected: Will Ferrell, MLB Spring Training, Stand Up to Cancer. Let me explain.
An article from nesn.com introduced this very well: “Will Ferrell did something that hasn’t been done in a long time…: He generated interest in spring training baseball. The world-famous actor took to the diamond with the hopes of playing all nine positions across five different Cactus League games, all in order to help raise awareness for Stand Up to Cancer and Cancer for College.”
And with all of the coverage that this received, he certainly achieved his goal. This whole thing was really great all around. First, Ferrell has always seemed like one of those genuinely nice, just plain old naturally funny guys. Rather than seeming like a publicity stunt for himself, it really seems he was using the publicity he naturally get all the time, and directing it to a worthy cause. It’s also great that these MLB teams agreed to host something like this — not that the games count toward their records anyway.
Stand Up to Cancer is a charitable organization that is part of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a non-profit that funds over 300 charitable organizations each year throughout the United States. It is focused on raising funds for cancer research. Since its inception in May of 2008, it has raised over $260 million for this cause.
Charity and Philanthropy are two things I’m really interested in, so I was excited to see several articles recently about video game companies and video game events that are giving back to the community.
First, Sony recently held a charity auction for their limited edition 20th anniversary Playstation 4 game console. There are only 12,300 of them, but number 00001 was not sold. Instead, it was held by Sony and then auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the charity Save the Children of Japan. If you can believe it, this particular console wound up being auctioned for $128,538. That’s definitely quite a lot to spend on a video game system, but it’s great that the money went to a good cause.
There is also an upcoming charity even called Gaming to Give, which will be taking place during Superbowl week in Scottsdale, AZ. The event will feature numerous notable people, both from within and outside of the sports world, playing a Super Smash Bros. tournament to win money that will be given to the charity of their choice.
Anthony Beyer is a supporter of the Operation Blessing Safe Water Projects. Operation Blessing projects seek to provide relief for those around the world suffering from hunger, lack of clean water, lack of medical care, and the effects of disaster. Below is a slideshow comprised of photos from the Cambodia clean water mission.
The Christmas Season is fast approaching, and as always during this time of year everyone is thinking about the gifts they want, and the gifts they want to give. In addition to the joy and anticipation from thoughts of presents, toys, wrapping paper, and bows, this is the best time of year to reflect upon ways to give back to your community and to do some work with a charitable organization. There is no shortage of ways to give back, and finding out about groups or places that need help can be very easy.
First, just about every town in America has a canned food drive of some sort. Not only are these very easy to get involved with and participate in, they also serve the important role of making sure people in the community are provided with their most basic needs. In addition to food drives, most communities have gift drives, which help to provide presents for children in the community who may not otherwise be able to receive a special gift.
Giving items such as canned food and gifts, though very important and very much needed, is not the only way to help out during the Christmas Season. You can also always donate your time. Around Christmas, many organizations like local churches and libraries offer things like reading programs or book fairs, and volunteers at these events are always needed.
These are just a couple of ideas of ways to give back to your community this Christmas Season. While these are just general ideas, you can find out about specific groups and organizations in your community through a simple web search on your computer, or by going to your local church to see listings of places that could use some help.
There is a great quote from cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead – “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that has.” Giving your time to a cause you care about is always worthwhile, but volunteering internationally can be a particularly rewarding experience. Not only do you get to give back, but you also get to experience a new world and a new culture while doing it.
There is a new development in the travel world called “voluntourism.” This is typically a short vacation during which some sort of charity work is done, though significantly less than during a concentrated volunteer, charity, or development project. The primary difference between these and typical vacations is that there is much more interaction with local communities, so travelers can gain a much richer experience than they would on a resort, for example, gated off from the rest of the community. However, since the community work in these situations is so much less intensive, some question these trips ethically. Every little bit of work around the world helps, but it begs the question – Who are these trips really for? The communities or the travelers?
That being said, “voluntourism” could serve an important purpose – getting people involved to begin with. Taking on a big charity project can seem daunting. Also, there are undoubtedly people who want to get involved in some way, but don’t know quite how to begin. These trips could be a gateway for such people, a way for them to dip their toes in the water before jumping all the way in.
Types of volunteer work typically performed on these trips include teaching English, teaching computer literacy, working at an orphanage, working with handicapped children, building homes or schools, and environmental conservation projects.