In our eternal search for the “Meaning of life” (sadly, it isn’t 42 – Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy circa 1979 – a must read for the answers to life, the universe and everything) it’s useful to know that real meaning in life doesn’t come from what you get (though sparkly things are always good), but from what you give.
What’s the first thing you want to do when you receive incredible news? You reach out to someone who’s important to you to share. What do you do when something terrible happens? (see previous answer) We rely on the people around us for emotional support during good and bad times and as much as this need for connection is ingrained in us, it also goes the other way. This is the essence of giving back to the community – supporting others in the ups and downs of life just as they support you.
The importance of giving back to society can’t be understated. When you give back, you’re able to better the lives of the people around you – your loved ones, the people in your community or the lives of people somewhere else in the world. Giving back is about finding a fit between your passions and how they can meet a need. There are as many ways to contribute as there are problems to solve, so take the time to find an area of philanthropy that speaks to you.
Here are some suggestions for volunteering that will make a big difference, and you don’t even need to get off the couch!
Support businesses that give back to worthy causes – There are bucket loads of charitable businesses that give back. Take a look at this list of companies to get some inspiration on who/what to support.
Download apps that donate proceeds to charities – So many apps and so little time! Check this out for apps that will take the hassle out of giving back or install roundup and donate your “rounded up” change from everyday purchases to a nonprofit of your choice. With AmazonSmile, you can make purchases that donate .5% to your favourite charity or donate products to charity.
Use your special skills to help others – Everybody has their own special talent or set of skills (I can do a filthy wolf whistle with 4 fingers in my mouth – not sure how that translates here though). Why not utilize the skills you have to help others by volunteering with a skill-based volunteer company like Vollie, an online marketplace that connects skilled people to non-profits, charities and social enterprises for skills-based online volunteering.
Sign up to be an organ donor – One organ donor can help save up to eight lives. Register here to be an organ donor (and in the meantime – get into shape. Nobody wants a dodgy liver!)
Write letters to people in need – Remember when snail mail was the only kind of mail? (you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth) The simple action of writing a letter to someone in need can lift their spirits considerably and lift yours in the process. Check out In Great Company and revive the lost art of penmanship.
Get out of your pj’s and into the world to make a difference!
Donate blood – Donating blood is a quick and simple action that can impact up to three lives. Search for a blood bank near you and learn what the requirements are to be a blood donor. (mad cows need not apply)
Donate your hair if it’s longer than 20 cm’s – (bald people, stop reading here)
Donating hair is simple with sustainablesalons.org. They give your ponytail the chop and get it made into awesome wigs for kids.
Hang out with animals – (not talking about your Uni mates) Check out the RSPCA volunteer program. They have over 5,000 volunteers who cover a range of different roles (not all involving cleaning up dog poop).
Register a Clean Up event – Clean Up (along with having a really nice website), inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment, and you don’t need to be a big group to play. You can create an event, join one or be part of the PLOG-A-THON.
Do you often think, what’s my legacy? Well this can be it. You can start small, but as Nike so succinctly put it – JUST DO IT.