With the economy suffering, non-profits and our communities are feeling the impact in significant ways. We may not have extra dollars to donate outright but there are other ways to give. Here are just a few options if you are finding that, especially during this time, you have an incredible desire to connect.
Participate in the Team in Training program, an Avon Breast Cancer Walk, or an MS bike ride. There are athletic endurance events that are tied to fundraisers that allow you to raise money for a cause while receiving coaching or support to complete the event. In 2005, I did two century rides with Team in Training which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was a conrete way for me to support my dad’s fight against cancer while raising money for a cause that was dear to all of us– cancer research and care.
Join a Board of Directors for a local non-profit. I have served on three boards over the years and have found the experience to be so rewarding. Non-profits need a greate deal of human capital to run smoothly and, as a board member, you contribute meaningfully to an issue and program that is important to you. Interested in serving as a board member? Call up a non-profit that interests you and ask to meet with the Executive Director over the phone or in person. When you meet, learn more and offer your skills.
Donate to Locks of Love. Locks of Love provides hair pieces to children who suffer medical hair loss. If your hair grows fairly quickly, this is a great thing to do. Some salons even offer free haircuts with your Locks of Love donation.
Give an Alternative Gift. So what’s an alternative gift? It’s the perfect thing for you to get for the person who you have a hard time finding the perfect gift. An alternative gift is a donation that you make to a non-profit in someone’s name. The great thing is that you can pick something that perfeclty captures your loved one’s spirit. Heifer International is one of the most popular options but just about any non-profit will work with you to make your alternative gift possible. You can also use your birthday or your child’s birthday as an opportunity to ask for alternative gifts.
Engage in your community. I have been during regular, weekly volunteer work since I was 18. Unless I’ve been on vacation, a week hasn’t gone by in 17 years where I didn’t volunteer in some way. It’s how I understand how to be in community and it is how I keep my lens from just focusing on me, me, me. Over the years, I have done whatever needed to be done for a non-profit that I cared about as well as offered my unique skills– like teaching writing classes in an afterschool program. For example, are you a hair dresser? Contact Dress for Success to offer job interview hair styling classes to their clients. Are you an artist? Donate some of your work to a non-profit’s silent auction. Have a certain day/time to spare, check on the Hands on Network or Volunteer Match to explore some options in your area.