The image that pops into our heads when we hear about charitable donations is that it involves giving money, food, books and other material stuff. This is the image that has been painted by most of the modern day charity industry.
To me, though, the best kind of charity work does involve giving – just not cash or material items. I prefer another type of charity – donating my time.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against giving money and donating stuff to help others! In fact, I encourage people to give whatever they can.
Here are the reasons why I prefer donating my time vs. writing a check.
Charity is about the recipient.
So why give your time vs. giving money (or other material items)? My answer: donating your time is more valuable because of the human connection you make.
People who give money and drop off stuff at Goodwill end up missing out on awesome opportunities to interact with recipients of donations.
In charity work, there is nothing as a good as understanding how the other side lives by simply looking at the world through their eyes. For people who give money, such knowledge cannot be gained. So, they remain detached to the real needs of the recipients.
How to Donate Time
Volunteering your time to serve less fortunate people is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. Books have been written about the health and well-being benefits of helping other people. We are a social animal, after all!
For a volunteer who do not know where to start, there are lots of easy ideas here. Some of these easy options include the following:
· Caring for the elderly at your local nursing home. Just drop by and ask them what they need.
· Spending time with the disabled. Call your local Veteran’s Administration office to ask about programs in your area.
· Protect the environment through local programs. Every city these days has at least one eco-friendly awareness or activiist group. Get involved and make the world a better place for your kids.
· Caring for the sick. All you need to do is visit your local hospital. Check in with the administrative office and ask for a list of the volunteer groups that frequent that hospital.
· Get involved with community fund-raising events. Give your time to help good people raise money for good causes you believe in. You’ll make new friends in the process.
· Work with children. Drop by one of the roughest elementary schools in your town and offer time to help out in the class room.
· Assist learners (in a library). I love helping out in our local library. There’s little more rewarding than helping a young mind open like a flower, through the power of reading.
When to Donate Your Time
Being a wife and a mother of two, I am totally understand how hard it can be for some people to get free time for this sort of thing.
But at the same time, with my somewhat busy occupations, I find the time to make the world a better place – especially since my husband works in a foreign country trying to protect our country and make it better.
The rule I use is simple: I budget 2 hours a week, no matter what. I view it like working out – a workout for my soul.
In my experience, giving just a short lunch break or sparing a an hour two evenings a week after work is adequate to really help someone in need.
If you want to involve your kids, remember that students get lots of time off when they are on holiday. Some family time can be spared on a holiday, right? It will bring you closer, and teach them a valuable lesson in life.
Personally, I try to donate my time with my children at my side, and they do not mind it at all.
Benefits of Donating Your Time
1. It is far more fulfilling – for you and the recipient.
I always find it more satisfying when I get to interact with the people I am volunteering for.
And it can mean more to the person getting your help, too. Take the example of the elderly. When you offer an elderly person your help, they are bound to see the world in better light. They will not feel forgotten and left to suffer alone. This puts a smile on their faces, and yours. I find this to be more fulfilling than when a person sends money. At their age, money makes very little difference in their quality of life. But a new friend? Priceless.
2. Donating your time is less complex.
In contrast to material donations that are subject to taxation and deductions, time donations are given without charge to the recipient. The policy of fair market value ensures that whenever a person donates anything material, tax rates are calculated and a given value is set aside to cater for deductions. In the end, the beneficiaries only get a portion of what you intended for them.
3. You get to see and experience the results of your donation first hand.
there is no better way of judging whether your donation is worth to the recipient than being with them as they receive it.
4. It costs less!
If you’re strapped and on a budget like the wife of a soldier (wink wink), you just can’t justify giving as much money as a person might need. So skip the cash and help a person out.
So, next time someone asks you for a cash donation of some kind, reply to them by saying, “I love what you are doing! how could I get more involved than writing a check?”.