Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead
Doing good is no longer just for the bleeding hearts, but rather a way of living. I love the notion of do-gooding and find it akin to breathing, bathing, and being. You cannot escape the continuous reminders to go green, be socially responsible, or save the planet. Our culture is infused with a sense of urgency to make a difference through our daily actions, decisions, and dollars. Here are some ideas on how you can leave a lovely legacy not only by being you but also by reaching beyond yourself.
Choose a Cause
There are so many worthy causes out there, and determining where to direct your efforts and energy is not always as easy as it sounds. You may be drawn to numerous issues and not sure how to narrow down the list. Taking the time to explore what moves you helps to ensure that you have the energy it takes to fight a potentially uphill battle.
What issue gets you riled up when you think about it? What cause would you spend your hours supporting if time or money were not concerns? Do you get teary over the polar bears’ melting glaciers? Do you want to help hungry children in Niger? Is homelessness or domestic violence in your hometown a concern? Does factory farming or the existence of puppy mills push your buttons? Take a moment to write out the issues close to you and note why they tug on your heartstrings. Now that you’ve honed in on your favorite cause or causes, let’s explore ways to get out there and make a difference.
Make a Difference
The options for doing something to support your cause and, at the same time, grow personally and professionally are endless. Following is a list of my favorite ways to get out there as a do-gooder and let your voice be heard.
Each month I head to a nearby assisted living center to offer up a dose of chair yoga to a variety of vibrant seniors. It’s two hours a month out of my schedule to share basic breathing and stretching with an attentive and grateful audience. I always leave feeling better than when I went in. I chose this volunteer opportunity because teaching yoga is a skill of mine, and I’ve always been drawn to the delicate, loving nature of the elderly.
Think about your various skill sets, and explore ways that they may translate to your chosen cause or causes. Are you an avid event planner who could head a fund-raiser? Are you great with strategy and able to offer your business savvy to a fledgling nonprofit struggling to determine its mission?
Maybe it isn’t so much a skill set as it is your lifestyle. Do you have a flexible schedule that allows you to walk dogs at the Humane Society during the day? Are you connected with lots of local celebrities and able to use your networking skills to help bring in a high-profile speaker? Think broadly and come up with innovative ways to support your favorite cause.
Of course, the donation of time in any capacity is good old-fashioned volunteering and can make a big difference to the organization. Organizations always need behind-the-scenes workers (administrators, organizers, letter writers) and frontline workers (for canvassing the streets, knocking on doors, making calls) to get things done. How can you volunteer in order to help the cause close to your heart?