Category: Community’ (Page 1 of 2)

Charities that Give the Most to Veterans

Oftentimes when we talk about charity we talk about organizations that work to benefit demographics like children or people living in areas of high poverty. One of the most important causes out there that needs our help and doesn’t receive the attention it deserves is our veterans.

The servicemen and servicewomen who have laid their lives on the line in the pursuit of a better and brighter tomorrow often return home from the war they fought to find themselves facing a new, internal battle. Within 4 months of returning home, nearly a third of all soldiers will develop mental health problems; these problems commonly include anxiety disorders, clinical depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  These mental health problems, on top of all of the difficulties and emotional burdens of war, led 20% of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan to develop drug or serious drinking problems, and saw 22 veteran suicides per day in 2010.

Because of the long-term emotional and psychological burdens that accompany those who return from combat, it is often difficult for our servicepeople to hold jobs or properly take care of themselves. This means they often rely on public services and programs like the VA to help them in times of need. They can also turn to the aid of some of the philanthropies and charities around the country who work to help those who have served. Here are just a few of the organizations whose efforts help to benefit our nation’s veterans.

  • Adaptive Sports Foundation
  • Fisher House Foundation
    • The Fisher House Foundation was established to help the loved ones of military servicemen and women while the veteran is receiving medical services. The homes are located nationwide, nearby VA medical centers and hospitals to allow the families all of the amenities of living at home for free close by.
  • The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
    • This fund, established in the year 2000, has provided the families of military servicepeople with over $200 million worth of benefits and support in the years since. They also offer assistance for medical care to help the soldiers continue to lead fulfilling lives, in or out of the line of duty.

Why People Give

One of the biggest topics, that often goes without discussion, is our motivations to give. What makes people give to others? There have been plenty of studies around this very question. According to that research, there’s a multitude of reasons why people donate their resources or time to help others in need. This blog will break down the four biggest reasons as to why we give.

We’re motivated to give with our hearts

The biggest factor when it comes to giving is the prospect of making someone’s life better. We want to donate to causes that create significant change, but we are very driven by the narrative we’re told. If a particular organization’s purpose is tied to a story that pulls at our heartstrings, we’re more likely to donate. Our emotions are a driving force in our lives and when it comes to helping others, it certainly is not an exception to the rule.

Community Pride

Individuals with a strong tie to their communities are driven to give back as much as they can. To them, giving is a way of lifting the community up to make it an even better place than how they already see it. Those who donate to community causes swell with pride when their donations increase the wellbeing of the community as a whole.

Influenced by those around us

Another factor behind giving is the influence others have on us. For instance, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was, in part, a huge success due to the influence of our peers. When a campaign goes viral and people show up in droves due to the fear of missing out, they are motivated to give because everyone around them is doing the same.

Driven to give due to personal stability

Finally, the most humbling motivator is your own personal and financial stability. Many people are driven to give because they look at how fortunate they are and want to use some of their security to provide others with similar comforts. This is an interesting motivator because it’s one that takes more introspection and mindfulness than the others.

All in all, no matter why we give, it comes from a place of positivity and desire to better the lives of others. The more people we can motivate and inspire, the better off the world will be.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

To most every person in the United States, the name Bill Gates should at least sound familiar. The founder of tech-giant Microsoft, Bill Gates is and has been the richest man on earth for quite some time now. With a current net worth of $86.6B, Gates has held the title of Richest Man Alive for 18 out of the last 23 years.

However, as Bill Gates came to learn, after a certain amount of wealth, there’s not much more you can have or own or do, so you need to look for different ways to spend it.

Gates himself said, “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.” So that’s what he and his wife, Melinda, decided to do.

From there, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was formed.

Their journey into the world of philanthropy began in 1997 when the couple was particularly moved by a piece written about the millions of children around the world in impoverished countries who die each year from maladies that have long ago been eliminated by medicine in the United States. Considering their already sizeable fortune, the two wondered if maybe there wasn’t something they could do about it. In that same year, Bill Gates took his first trip to India in the name of the Gates Foundation where he personally administered polio vaccines to local children.

The couple has taken a particular interest in issues concerning health around the globe and their work and initiatives are reflective of this. They’ve partnered with organizations like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, launched programs like the HIV/AIDS Prevention Branch in India, granted money to help fight malaria, and is actively working to end polio.  

Where other philanthropists give their money to such causes but pledge their time elsewhere, Bill and Melinda Gates willingly step right into the thick of the poverty and help those in need face to face.

They’re also incredibly active in other areas; their work extends to areas like education, world hunger, and clean energy. Together this couple is helping to make the world a better place through their plan to donate all of their wealth before the end of their lives.

Community Drives

Do you want to help out those less fortunate but don’t know where to start? Do you want to give, but feel like your small donation won’t make a difference? Not everyone can afford to open a school in another country or donate a million dollars to a natural disaster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t affect positive change right in your own community. If you’re looking to help others, start with those closest to home and organize a drive that can make an immediate change in the lives of others.

  • Blood Drive
    • Every two seconds in the United States, someone is in need of a blood transfusion, with nearly 21 million blood units transfused each year. The blood bank is filled exclusively through donations as blood cannot be manufactured, and although 38% of the population is able and eligible to donate, only about 10% of that 38% do. Reach out to the Red Cross and see if you can help save lives by organizing a blood drive.
  • Toy Drive
    • For children living in poverty, they’re lucky to have food on the table most nights, so buying toys really isn’t a financial option. Holding a toy drive in your community, especially around the holidays, can really make a difference in the life of a child.
  • Tampon/Pad Drives
    • A newer type of drive looking to solve a long-standing problem, Tampon and Pad Drives are sweeping the nation, answering the prayers of homeless women everywhere. Feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads are expensive with the necessary amount costing upwards of $100 a year, a price that’s simply not feasible for women who are homeless. These drives collect said hygiene products and distribute them to homeless women in need.
  • Food Drive
    • Many municipalities have food banks that do a great job of providing those in need with food. You can show support and do your part by hosting a canned  food or dried food drive to collect non perishables for your community food bank.
  • Blanket Drive
    • On cold, winter nights, there’s nothing like curling up on your couch with a blanket to keep you warm. Now imagine you don’t have a house, much less a couch to curl up in; blanket drives are one of the best ways you can ensure that people without homes or shelters stay safe against the element during the cold months.

How to Get Your Family Giving this Holiday Season

There’s something about this time of year that puts people in a charitable mood. Known as the “season of giving,” the holiday season each year is a time when people set aside their daily concerns for themselves and look for ways they can benefit others and society as a whole. Not only do we give gifts to the ones we hold dear, but we even give to strangers with no hope for recognition or commendation for our efforts, like selfless secret santas trying to bring a little cheer to the world. Make giving a tradition in your family that will last through the generations with these ways to get the whole group involved in giving this season.

Find ways to help out while cleaning out.

  • Move your spring cleaning up a bit and go through your old belongings that you no longer use and donate them! A few weeks before Christmas, take a day or two and go through any old junk you have lying around to see what you can give to help others. Great items to donate include blankets, gently used clothing, books, toys, and so on. This practice can help your children cut back on materialism throughout the holidays by seeing their old toys and belongings go to people who need them more.

Spread your cheer through the neighborhood.

  • The holidays can be a lonely time of year for people whose loved ones have passed on or whose families have other plans occupying their time. Why not teach your children the value giving their time and company rather than money by visiting the elders in your community and sharing your merriment with them. You can also get the whole family involved in baking cookies and then distributing them throughout your community.

Forego some presents.

  • In 2015, the average person spent $830 on Christmas presents for their loved ones, and for parents, most of that money was likely spent on presents for the children. Let your children see how far just a little money could go for someone living in poverty, especially in developing countries, by taking a portion of the money you usually spend on gifts and donating it to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse where just $7 can provide a child with a week’s worth of hot meals. Let them pick out the gifts themselves to get them really involved and feel as though they’ve personally made a difference in the lives of others.

Around the holidays, even the smallest bit that you do can make a world of difference in the lives of people who struggle to survive each passing day. Help improve their wellbeing while also teaching your children the value of helping others and how good it can feel to be selfless by looking for ways to get your children involved in giving during the holiday season.

Why Giving Makes Us Feel Good

If you’ve ever been on the giving end of benevolence, then you know the good, warm feeling you get inside of you when you lend a hand to those in need. But what about giving is it that makes us feel this way? Why does helping other paradoxically make ourselves feel better?

  1. There’s a physiological response in our bodies to giving.
    • While it absolutely seems to be a paradox, when we give to others, the pleasure centers and reward areas of our brains light up, but get this — our brains light up the same way they would if we were the receiver of the gift, not the one giving it. A 2008 study from Harvard Business School found that giving money to others lifted the levels of happiness of participants more than it did if they spent the money on themselves. This is because your body produces boosts of endorphins during acts of generosity that make us feel good about ourselves and others, the same kind of feeling describes as a “runner’s high.”
  2. Giving is good for your health.
    • Studies have shown that helping others has numerous positive effects on your body, most notably in the brain and the heart. Giving helps us physically by lowering our blood pressure (especially when the volunteer is elderly) and stress levels through providing a sense of appreciation and meaning in our lives. Giving is also good for your mental health, and has been linked to decreasing depression in volunteers.
  3. We feel better about ourselves when we volunteer.
    • Giving to others in any form has been shown to increase not only the volunteer’s self-esteem, but also their overall satisfaction in life. People who volunteer experience a boost in mood, feel physically healthier, and feel less stressed out overall. Giving to others has been shown to promote gratitude in our own lives by helping us “count our blessings” and explore how much in our lives we truly have to be thankful for. When you feel as though you have so little, seeing how much the little you have can do in the life of someone who has even less, it puts things into perspective.
  4. We help ourselves by helping others.
    • There’s an old saying that goes “you can’t help someone up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” In the process of giving, we gain from others as much as they gain from us, especially for causes that hit close to home. If you were victimized by something in your life and then you go on to become an advocate for those affected, you’re helping yourself through the battle as much as you’re helping others and empowering them to give themselves a different outcome.

Why People Give to Charity

If you read my blog post last week, you learned a little bit about why some people don’t give to charity; this week, as we enter the season of giving, I decided to take a look at some of the reasons why people choose to give their money to those less fortunate. On a personal level, it’s great to….. From a philanthropic perspective. if you’re hoping to entice people into donating to your charity, you first need to understand why people are donating their money and what their motives are for giving. Maximize your business’s efforts to raise money by checking out some of the top reasons why people choose to give.

  1. The cause hits close to home.
    • This can be in both a figurative and a literal sense; people are more likely to help out a cause in an area near them, and people are going to feel drawn to causes that raise awareness and benefit particular hardships they’ve personally endured. Consider if you were raised in the foster system — as an adult, you would likely want to benefit other children who are currently sharing in that experience.
  2. They’re looking to make a difference.
    • In times of crisis, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of calamity. For this reason, people often choose to give their money because they are looking to affect positive change and make lives better for a specific group of individuals. If you are moved by the plight of an impoverished nation, you’re going to seek out ways that your donation can directly benefit them and improve their lives.
  3. They want to give back to something that benefited them.
    • If a particular cause or organization made a lasting impact on your life in one way or another, you’re likely going to want to give back once you’re financially able; for example, if your house were to burn down and you receive assistance from the Salvation Army or the Red Cross, you’re going to be more likely to make a routine of donating to them in an attempt to give back and show gratitude for all the help you were given.
  4. They want to preserve a legacy.
    • Many academic and athletic scholarships are given in honor of — and in the name of — a loved one as a way to preserve their memory long after their lives are over. Some people choose to start scholarships or grants to donate to people or organizations that help to carry on the vision of the loved one who has passed away. Other people, like Bill and Melinda Gates, have decided to use their incredible wealth to build one of the world’s largest nonprofits so that their money could keep helping others long after they’re gone.

There are many reasons why people choose to give to charity, but the important thing to remember is that people give with their hearts and not their heads. That’s not to say that people are going to give mindlessly; rather, people are more likely to give to causes that appeal to their emotions and their basic human instincts.

lloyd claycomb grateful

3 Ways to Stay Grateful

As the holiday season approaches, it can become very easy to get wrapped up in things. While there’s nothing wrong with being excited about new toys, there’s something to be said for being grateful. Unfortunately, many people stop being terribly grateful the moment they can’t get what they want. If you need a bit of help appreciating what you have today, you might want to look at the ideas below.

Spend Five Minutes Thinking About the Past

One of the hardest things for most people to admit is that they have it better now than they did in the past. While many people romanticize the past, it’s not too hard to remember that life is always about moving forward. If you want to be grateful for what you have today, take a few moments to think about what you didn’t have in the past. You had times when you struggled or when you could barely make ends meet, and being able to move past that is a major accomplishment. It’s much easier to be grateful when you remember that things haven’t always been so good.

Volunteer!

Perhaps the best way to stay grateful is to work for the betterment of others. Go out and volunteer, and not just during the holidays. If you really care about others, you’ll go after those positions that have little glamour and require quite a bit of work. While the work might be hard, it will also teach to start valuing what you already have. A bit of volunteering is good for the soul, and it’s also great for those who want to be a bit more grateful for what they already have. Volunteer organizations are always on the lookout for help, so make sure you get out there!

Catalog What You Have

You’d be amazed by all the assets you actually have in your life. Take a few minutes to write down everything that’s in your house. If you find that too overwhelming, just write down everything that is in the room in which you are currently sitting. Once you realize the sheer amount of things you have, you’ll realize that you’re so much better off than most people have been during human history. It’s easier to feel like you aren’t doing well when you ignore what you have, so take a look around you in order to feel grateful.

Staying grateful is a process that requires a good deal of vigilance. Get out there, help others, and keep track of what you actually have today. If you can do all of that, you’ll find it easier to be honest about where you are in life – and much easier to be grateful for those things that benefit you now.

benefits of philanthropy

3 Surprising Benefits of Philanthropy

It’s no secret that philanthropy — and the act of giving in general — benefits the ones being helped. However, what you may not be aware is just how much philanthropy benefits the giver, too. Aside from the satisfaction of helping those less fortunate and knowing you’ve done a good deed, philanthropy acts can benefit you in numerous ways that you may have never even considered.

More and more studies are being produced highlighting the personal advantages of giving back. Researchers have dubbed these benefits the “giver’s glow” and the “helper’s high.” Reports indicate that those who volunteer their time and services to help others experience a myriad of positive effects. In overwhelming majority, people who give experience an overall enriched sense of well-being and purpose, less stress, and greater happiness. Alongside these positive spiritual and emotional benefits, philanthropy can also have positive effects on your physical health, too.

  1. Volunteering can help extend your life expectancy. A study in the 2013 journal of Psychology and Aging shows clear evidence that “volunteering is predictive of reduced mortality risk.” Though at this point it’s unclear why volunteering can lengthen your lifespan, the correlation between the two is astoundingly clear, and this could be a huge discovery as the baby boomer generation moves towards retirement.
  2. Volunteering can help lower your blood pressure. Although — much like the increased life expectancy — it’s unclear as to why volunteering can lower your blood pressure, the evidence is once again there to support the claim. Many believe that the impact that philanthropy has on blood pressure is due to the ways its inherent nature of being both physically active as well as altruistic can reduce stress. Since volunteering proffers an opportunity for people to expand their possibly limited social circles, it allows them to improve their sense of well-being through interactions with others.
  3. Philanthropy can help reduce your stress levels. In addition to increasing your sense of self-worth, volunteering can also help reduce the amount of stress that you experience. By donating your time to help others, you will experience a new sense of meaning in life which can be stress reducing. Paradoxically, those who donate their time also feel as though they have more time themselves, which in this stressful, busy world can be incredibly cathartic.

One of the most incredibly aspects of philanthropy is that, despite being an intrinsically selfless deed, it helps both the giver and the receiver immensely. As social creatures we, as humans, are hardwired to want to help one another, and when we do, we experience the benefits as well. As the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.”

tips before volunteering

4 Tips Before Volunteering

Volunteering is one of the most positively impactful things you can do as a person. However, in recent years, the number of people who are opting to volunteer is dwindling; in 2015 only 24.9% of the population chose to volunteer their time to help those in need. Many times, people would like to volunteer but have no idea how or where to even get started. There are many decisions to take into consideration when choosing to volunteer, and you may be faced with decisions that you don’t even know that you’re making. Before you choose to volunteer your time or donate your money to a cause, make sure that it’s a cause that will use your donations and services in the best way to serve the greater good.

  1. Determine what you can offer. If you want to volunteer, make sure that you don’t stretch yourself too thin trying to do too much. Ask yourself questions like: How much of my time can I give on a weekly or monthly basis? What am I willing to do, and what am I not willing to do? What do I want to take away from this experience? Make sure that you’re being realistic about your goals and honest with yourself about what you’re actually able to do.
  2. Find a charity whose efforts match your philanthropic passions. For example, if you’re passionate about helping animals, do your homework; if your goal is to help them find homes, then you may want to locate a no-kill shelter. Identify what you hope to accomplish by volunteering, and find organizations that meet the same goals.
  3. Stick to your commitment. You start out saying that you’re going to volunteer every night of the week, but it very quickly slips back to one night a week at best due to other commitments and time constraints. If you choose to volunteer, be reasonable about your commitment and when you make one, stick to it! If you’re constantly being a no-show volunteer, you’re doing more damage to the organization than if you had been realistic from the start.
  4. Look at where your time and money will go. A 2013 study revealed that 50 of the worst charities in America devoted less than 4% of their donations to direct cash aid — something to which many people believe their entire donation goes. Before you select a charitable organization to donate your time or money, do your research. Find out how much of what you give will directly benefit the cause you’re trying to help and how your efforts will directly impact it as well.

Volunteering is more than something that you should do, it needs to be something that you want to do. Finding a cause that speaks to you and committing your time to helping it can engage you in ways that nothing ever will.

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