I was asked recently what could change the face of philanthropy in the United States. This question came on the heels of flat/slightly declining national charity giving stats as reported by Giving USA. The answer I believe the questioner was looking for was a new technological whizbang. I admit, that could be a part of it, but the answer ― my answer ― is one based on belief and behavior.
I wish people would wake up each and every day and ask themselves, can I help someone today? Or even, how can I help someone today? Or even more determinedly, I will help someone today!
We can all agree that modern lives are busy with both serious and trivial things, from watching videos, liking social media posts, and taking and sharing pictures to more important activities including caregiving, income generation, exercise and prayer.
Philanthropic engagement appears to be a low to mid-level priority on the scale of everyday living. Generally speaking, outside of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons of gratitude and giving, philanthropy is not top of mind. Charitable giving has turned into a reactive response, we give when asked, because we don’t make the sharing of our talent and treasure an everyday part of our lives.
Let’s change that. Let’s make a habit of helping others a daily occurrence. The options for change are endless: feed a family, save a species, teach a child to read, shelter a refugee, protect our water, find a cure, comfort an elderly citizen, advocate for a social issue, champion the performing arts. Imagine what we could accomplish if we all made a positive step every day.
Granted, behavior changes are not easy. Here are four easy steps to get you started:
- Start small and be considerate of others. Smile. Say please and thank you. Civility leads to respect.
- Offer to help. Volunteers are the lifeblood of many non-profits. You could start with an organized group or lend a helping hand to a neighbor. Hands-on involvement develops empathy and deepens social engagement.
- Learn about issues and find the causes that matter to you. Share them with family and friends.
- Finally, invest in change, whether it be short-term help or long-term change. The gap between need and resources is significant. Set a monthly giving goal that fits you and your family.
Never forget, that by helping others, we become better. So, back to technology, perhaps you should ask Alexa each day to schedule a time to make your world become a better place.