Throughout our lifetimes, we all feel compelled to lend a helping hand to others in need. Some prefer to help one person at a time; others may commit to a 5K, and a select few may choose to deepen their impact by joining a board or maybe even ramping up their own cause crusade. Whichever method you choose, one thing remains constant: We all start somewhere.
Philanthropy and giving comes in many forms. It does not just mean writing a big check or attending an exclusive gala. There isn’t a quota to meet, volunteer hours to fulfill and you don’t have to give in the same way year after year. Philanthropy is about giving what you can, in whatever form that may take. Volunteering your time and skills, donating goods or services, and spreading awareness about issues are all examples of philanthropy, and a great low-cost way to start your philanthropic journey.
Engaging in philanthropic activities can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It also brings you closer to causes that you are passionate about, meaning that you’ll be connecting with people who have similar interests and values. This is an excellent way to meet people if you are new to town or networking your way to a new opportunity.
For many, that first step toward a life of giving is the most challenging one. Not sure where to begin? Think about the things that you enjoy doing. Is it boating and outdoor activities? Attending art shows and performances? Helping children learn about the arts? What ignites your passion? What kind of change would you like to see? These questions will help you hone in on general areas of interest and a soon you’ll be able to identify organizations that may be serving this space that you can support.
One place to start is The Miami Foundation, an organization that builds the philanthropic, civic, and leadership backbone for Greater Miami. Since 1967, the Foundation has invested $505 million to strengthen the community with partnerships and contributions from more than 1,000 fundholders and 35,000 donors. The Miami Foundation, which currently manages over $427 million in assets, mobilizes donors, non-profits, leaders and residents to set a bold vision for Miami’s future and to invest in a stronger, more equitable, more resilient community. The Miami Foundation helps orchestrate South Florida’s largest single day of giving each Fall called Give Miami Day, where donors and volunteers can donate funds and pledge hours to over 1,000 different participating organizations throughout South Florida, raising a record-breaking $32 million from 41,217 unique donors and 58,281 volunteer hours from 2,146 volunteers. The Miami Foundation has a repository of information on organizations both large and small to help guide you through the cause selection process.
Philanthropy involves a myriad of skills — from fundraising to branding, event planning, communication and collaboration. Most companies place greater value on employees who are actively involved in the community and have a strong sense of social responsibility. Co-workers hold those who give back regularly in higher regard than their less involved colleagues. It makes your employer look good while also casting you in a positive light and helping you expand your network of contacts and potential clients. Knowing that you are making a positive impact on the world can be incredibly rewarding and can boost your self-esteem and confidence. Studies show that we benefit just as much (if not more!) from giving as we do from receiving.
Aside from these benefits — and the happiness boost that comes from giving — you will develop valuable skills while doing your part to help make the world a better place. You’ll be an inspiration to not only yourself, but to your family, friends, neighbors, bosses, clients and co-workers. No matter how you look at it, philanthropy is always a win-win scenario with endless opportunities to showcase your commitment to causes greater than yourself while changing countless lives along the way.