Imagine what you could do if you cut out trips to the coffee shop and instead, put that money towards a cause. Carlo Garcia decided to do just that, by swapping his daily cup for a daily charity and resolving to give to 365 charities over 365 days. With 260 days under his belt, he has inspired others and embodied the idea that small actions make a difference. Here, he answers some of our questions about his experience.
What inspired you?
Volunteering in the non-profit world for the past 5 years and being a part of the fundraising activities, I saw first hand how hard raising money can be for non-profits to fund their programs. Back in April, this question popped in my head: how hard would it be to give to charity everyday? The biggest hurdle for most people is money. The more I thought about it, I realized it doesn’t matter how much you give, as long as you give on a consistent basis, it can add up fast. So, I decided to test this theory. I took a look at my spending and decided what unnecessary spending I could cut out of my life. Spending $15 or $20 on coffee every week was an easy one to spot, realizing I could save money by not buying new clothes was another way.
How can anyone do this?
Start small and start locally. The best advice I can give is to look around your community and find an organization that is doing good and whose mission speaks to you, then find ways to help them out. If giving money is too hard for your budget, consider in-kind donations or volunteering your time, and you can make an impact real quick. The goal is not to go broke, but to do a little bit of good or give a little bit everyday. If the everyday model is too hard, try once a week.
What has surprised you the most about the past 260 days?
What has surprised me the most, is the number of people who have contributed or volunteered based on reading what I have been doing. The generosity and their willingness to help these organizations I’ve featured has really motivated me throughout the process. It’s truly inspiring to me.
How did you choose the charities you donated to? How do you find out about different charities?
When I first started, I made a list of about 30 organizations. These are organizations I have donated to or volunteered with in the past or charities I’ve had my eye on. The other organizations have come from doing research and vetting the orgs on Charity Navigator and Guidestar. I have also received recommendations from people following the blog as well as emails from charities themselves requesting I look at the work they are doing. I try to stay open to every possibility to give back, if the work the organization is doing speaks to me, I will consider them for a feature.
What have you learned from this experience? How has this changed you?
I have learned how easy it is to give a little bit every day, the hardest part for me has been maintaining the blog. It can be time consuming, but I do it to keep me focused on the goal of giving back everyday. It has definitely changed my perspective on life and it has been a learning experience as well, learning about all the different organizations doing great things in their communities is so refreshing. The school building trip I made to Mexico really opened my eyes to poverty and need for education and support services in every community.
Any idea what you’ll do after the 365 days are up?
I will continue my giving mission past day 365, my current plan is to save my daily donations and contribute them to one charity a month to increase my impact for that organization. I hope to find a way to make it easier for people who are considering a daily giving challenge to sign up and make their impact online.
What has been the most challenging part of this?
Maintaining the blog has been challenging, I’m not the greatest writer in the world, so having something compelling to say every day is challenging. So, I try to let the organizations speak for themselves. They are the true heroes, not me.
What do you want people to take away from your experience?
I want the spirit of giving to carry on and for people to see that one person can make a difference, especially when all those “one” people rally together and fight for a common goal, the end result can be overwhelming.
Read more about Carlo’s journey on his blog, Living Philanthropic.