Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer. While most of us equate summer with pleasure and relaxation, many others look at summer with a sense of dread. If you are financially strapped, summer means no access to subsidized meals for your children and childcare headaches as they are home from school.
Summer is also a stressful time for nonprofits. Need is high and donations are typically low. The good news is that summer is actually a great time to get involved with your favorite local charity. With businesses in summer mode, kids home from school and retired people itching to get out and enjoy the season, summer offers plenty of opportunities to do fulfilling acts of charity and still have time to laze away in the hammock.
Here are some helpful tips to get you started in what may be your most fulfilling summer ever:
- Identify local need. Helping to build up your own local community is extra fulfilling because you can witness the impact of your efforts first hand. Think about what cause moves you most. If reading is your passion, speak to your local Boys and Girls Club to see how you can impact young readers. Perhaps you can hold a book drive or establish a reading competition complete with charts and prizes! Or the charity may tell you the need is actually for school supplies so local kids have the tools to succeed in school. Whatever you choose, when you identify a charity you wish to support, be sure that it’s a worthy and legitimate organization by checking it out on a site like charitynavigator.org.
- Get kids, family and friends involved. You’ve made the decision to help, why not increase your impact exponentially by asking friends and family to join your cause. As mentioned above, kids are home and looking for something do and it’s never too early to teach a lesson of compassion and community. And, don’t forget the seniors. They are often overlooked but they can be amazing sources of ideas, enthusiasm and support – consider them your secret weapon!
- Bring your skills to the table. You can make an even bigger difference when you capitalize on your unique abilities. If you dabble in photography, why not offer to take photos at the next food pantry event to submit to your local paper, share online or add to their website. If you are great at planning parties, why not use your powers for good and organize a fundraising party for your favorite charity? If you are a runner, plan a neighborhood fun run and collect canned goods as an entry fee. You’ll find the more of yourself you put into your effort the more rewarding it will be.
- Virtual volunteering is a thing. When we think of volunteering we often envision lifting boxes, painting a room or building a swing set. But, the reality is that we are all busier than ever and working on-site at a charity event may just not work for us. Remember that virtual volunteering is a wonderful way to lend needed support to charity. From helping with website design, making phone calls or running an online fundraising or shopping event, don’t underestimate the impact you can make in your community right from your couch. You can even tap into your social networks and use social media for good when you run an online charity event made for social sharing with YouGiveGoods.com, an online giving platform that enables you to raise most-needed goods for any charity.
- Start small. The issues and problems that cause people (and animals!) distress run deep and won’t be eradicated any time soon. But every effort, no matter how small, makes a difference. Set reasonable goals for yourself, don’t shoot for the stars from the start. Learn and grow from your efforts and plan for each charitable outing to be bigger and better than the last.
Sure, summertime relaxing is good for you but helping others is also proven to be good for the mind, body, and soul. So take the plunge this summer and make it memorable by adding philanthropy into your plan.
Lisa Tomasi is the founder and president of YouGiveGoods, an innovative giving platform founded in 2012. Lisa has been involved in philanthropy ever since she was aided by the American Red Cross following the devastating 1989 San Francisco earthquake. YouGiveGoods giving events enable individuals, companies, schools and groups to make a tangible impact in local communities by getting new, needed goods to charities. When not working with the amazing YouGiveGoods team, Lisa is at her other full-time job – raising four daughters with her husband, Paul.