Today is #GivingTuesday! If you haven’t considered giving in some way, I hope you’ll consider it by the end of this post.
I want to talk to y’all a little about one of my biggest passions. Not DIYing, not cooking or sports, but Community Development.
For those of you who aren’t so sure what Community Development is – to paint it with broad strokes – it’s a process where people within their communities organize and come together to find solutions to the problems their communities, and people within their communities, are facing. Think of it as concerned citizens knitting the holes within their communities back together – helping the community to overcome poverty and disadvantages.
Community Development is both a career/profession as well as a way for individuals to get involved with their communities. To go into a little more depth about it, there are multiple ways to get involved with Community Development but oftentimes, one cannot survive without the other. The most common and best way to get started is volunteering.
Volunteers are oftentimes the backbone for nonprofits and agencies. It is very hard to run a Community Development plan or campaign without the help of people from the community who are willing to give their time and effort to help make a difference. But volunteerism isn’t just good for agencies. It’s also good for you. Reports from The Corporation for National and Community Service show that volunteering not only benefits your communities but it also improves your health, both psychologically and physically. If you haven’t explored volunteerism, I’d like to encourage you to do that! Stay tuned for a follow up on the “how’s, why’s, and where’s” on volunteerism.
The other side of Community Development is where you can find me. I’ve been working within this profession for years now from the bottom of the ladder to the top. There is nothing I am more passionate about than getting out in the middle of our communities and having the chance to speak with community members and build relationships with key people and organizations – listening to their concerns and being a part of finding a solution. I consider myself blessed to have found a profession and passion that gives back to me in ways that are truly immeasurable. (I’ve worked within both urban and rural Community Development and while they are similar – they are also different worlds. More on that another time!)
People who work within Community Development are clutch when it comes to moving visions forward. They find new opportunities for people in the community to learn new skills and motivate and enable them to work together. They play a major role in helping people foster inclusion and equality but as with all things, it takes a village.
Community Development comes in so many forms. Whether it’s tutoring children, helping adults prepare for the GED or learn a new skill, building a community garden, teaching a language to the disadvantaged, working with foster youth, building homes, or just installing smoke detectors – there are so many ways to get involved from both sides and I could seriously go on and on. (And I will later in the week to round out this month of thankfulness!)
Now that you understand a little about Community Development and see how important it is for all of us, I’m going to talk to you about why you should get involved on this #GivingTuesday.
I’m not here to push any certain organization (although I do have my favorites). I’m here to ask you to explore a part of yourself that maybe you haven’t before – making it a priority to do something for the needy. Even if it’s once a year, once a month, once a week, or just for today.
Not only does giving help the needy and the most underserved people in our communities but it also helps you, as I briefly mentioned earlier. I’m going to give you five really good reasons why you should donate to your charity of choice today.
Five Reasons to Give on this #GivingTuesday
- You will experience more pleasure within your own life. In a study by The National Institute of Health, people who decided to donate a portion of their money activated the pleasure center of the brain. While this was a controlled experiment, it did show that giving just makes you feel better. Who wouldn’t want to get in on that?
- You will be helping others in need. We all know that we don’t live in a perfect world. There will always be people hurting and people left needing for something but you can still make it better. I know that you have bills, mortgages, your own financial hardships – but even $5 can make a difference. Even if it can only buy school supplies, or just one binder for a child in need, isn’t it worth it knowing there’s one more child who has the supplies they need to succeed?
- Giving to others brings more meaning to your life. Giving to charity can help you bring meaning and inspiration into your life. If you’re in a slump, whether personally or professionally, donating to someone in need could help you dig yourself out of the rut. It is extra beneficial if you use it has an opportunity to meet like-minded people who care about the same cause! Networking can be a step inside the door to meeting a circle of people who you can rely on and turn to if you ever find yourself in your own time of need. Everyone needs an ear and a shoulder at some point.
- It can often motivate your friends and family. When you tell others about the ways you’re helping others, whether it’s through volunteerism or charity donations, it often motivates the ones around you to follow in your footsteps and do the same. It takes a village to address tough issues like poverty and under-served and vulnerable populations. Your giving may ignite a passion in someone around you and seeing that will have a very tangible effect on your life.
- You’ll get a tax deduction. While I hope you’re giving because you care about the cause and are truly invested in the mission, getting a tax deduction is still a good reason to give because you will still be helping others. If you give to a charity that is IRS-approved, you can write your donations off on your tax return! There are restrictions, though, so I encourage you to check the IRS website before donating with a tax deduction in mind.
While there are a TON of other reasons to give I hope this has in some way inspired you to consider giving to a worthy cause!
I’ll leave you with this: Lighting someone else’s candle with your flame (aka, the light within your soul) will never dull your flame. It will only make your flame brighter. Give today and let your soul shine bright!