Guest Written by Cynthia Callahan
Live Generously. As a member of Zion Lutheran Church at Augsburg, a Rotarian, a Pope County Habitat for Humanity board member and a Thrivent Financial Representative, I spend much of my time helping people live generously by connecting them with community needs. Americans are generous people who are more than willing to give of their time, talents and treasures when they are aware of a need. At this time of year many nonprofits make huge efforts to solicit support and make their needs known, but the needs exist all year long. I’d like to share a few tips for lending a helping hand by being good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure — living generously.
1) Give Wisely, Just Ask
Ask a local nonprofit what they need and the answer may surprise you. There are many needs that can be met without writing a check. Nonprofits have all the same needs as a family or business. Someone has to do the household/office duties, repair/maintain the buildings, and care for people. Can you donate a few hours a week to do tasks that need to be done? Giving your time is just as important as giving your money and can ease the burdens carried by staff. Do you have skills that could be used to meet a specific or urgent need? Can you provide skilled labor or a service instead of cash? And all fundraising events take lots of man hours to carry out so consider gifting your time and talent to these efforts.
2) Donate Items Wisely
You can’t know what items have already been donated or what items are needed most, at any given time, without asking. For example, once I asked about shampoo; that sounded like a good item to donate to a shelter but I couldn’t know that they had just received a huge donation from a business and didn’t need shampoo unless I asked. Many organizations also have lists of what they can and cannot accept. Sometimes processing donations expends more time and energy than it is worth so it is wiser to ask about needs before gifting your donations.
3) Plan Events Wisely
Living Generously is not just a holiday event. Visiting hospitals and nursing homes is wonderful during the holidays but they will appreciate the visit in other months as well. Consider doing some of your projects are other times of the year.
Don’t wear out the troops. Many organizations have discovered that one or two large annual fundraisers that are unique and distinguishing are better than constant fundraising efforts that fatigue volunteers and donors. And for maximum participation when planning events, be mindful of other community events going on at the same time.
4) Become Wise about the Causes you Care About
Visit the nonprofits working in this area; hear from those who are in the trenches about their vision, their needs, their plans, their successes, and their frustrations. You’ll soon know if your time, talent, and treasure can be put to good use with that organization. Once you’ve found your niche, you will not only be helping them with your personal efforts, but you will become an educated advocate for the cause and will find yourself sharing your passion and raising awareness with your friends and family. You’ll be using your time, talent, and treasure wisely.
5) Multiply your Efforts
Being an informed advocate — sharing your time, talent, and treasure — will have the largest impact on the causes you care about. Are you a part of a family, a business, a church, a group of any kind? Get creative and get your group together to meet a local need. If you haven’t already, consider joining forces with a local civic group focused on giving back to our community.
Start today or continue to sow the seeds of your time, talent and treasure in our community, and living generously will be a way of life that reaps a bountiful harvest.
Blessings to all.
Guest Written by Cynthia Callahan