The holiday season is fast approaching. For many, that means time spent with family, friends, and those that hold a special place in our hearts. The holiday season allows us time to reflect, appreciate our blessings, and pay it forward. Whether it’s donating time, money or talent, philanthropy is in all of us. When we think of philanthropy, we often think of monetary donations. While that is an important aspect of philanthropy, there is much more to paying it forward.
Did you know most Americans spend their free time giving to others? True philanthropy is much deeper than our pockets. Philanthropy comes from within our hearts and pours into our communities. When it comes to paying it forward and you want to think of ways to do so, please remember to think outside of the box.
Some Ways to Pay It Forward:
- Time is a priceless gift! Donate yours to a cause a loved one cares about or to your childhood church. During the holidays, help is usually needed to pack food baskets, purchase and wrap holiday gifts, stuff stockings or staff holiday gatherings for kids. Volunteer!
- Teach them! Mentoring the next generation is a gift that keeps on giving. Consider donating time towards the productivity of others. Ask yourself, ‘What skills do I have that someone else might benefit from?’ It can be as simple as reading to children or helping an adult learn to read. Are you a financial whiz? Share your knowledge with an organization that could use your help. Or offer to teach others basic financial literacy. The possibilities are almost limitless.
- Help Foster Children. Foster care services don’t just need foster parents, they also need in-house and remote volunteers. Not sure you can work directly with kids? You can still make a difference by organizing a supply drive to help a family in your community. Check with your local Foster Care Organization for suggestions then rally your friends to help meet their needs.
- Visit with Senior Citizens. Not every elderly person has a family to spend time with. Check with an area Senior Citizens Center or Home to see if they can use your help. A simple conversation or act of kindness can mean the world to a lonely individual. Plus, the elderly have a whole lot of history and wisdom to share. Lend an ear!
- Volunteer at your sanctuary of choice. Giving through service is the most powerful statement known to humankind. Paying it forward through service will feel rewarding for you, the religious institution, and community. Pay it forward by organizing a food drive, youth event, or by assisting with maintenance needs.
- Walk a dog; feed a cat. Many animal rescue centers need supplies, funds – and volunteers. Check with your local rescue center to see how you can help. Some need volunteers to foster animals. Others could use blankets, food, toys, and other basic supplies. You can also provide the animals with kindness, someone to pet them, walk them and comfort them while they await a forever home.
As you can see, the possibilities for volunteering are boundless. Do what means the most to you and it will mean more to the recipients. They will know that you’ve given from the heart.
Give forward through action but don’t think of the holiday season as the only time to do so.
Philanthropy is in all of us even if we don’t realize it. Celebrate yourself and those causes you care about every day of the year.
However, if you can only donate time and talent once a year, now is the time to do so. November is a special time for giving. National Philanthropy Day is November 15th and is used to celebrate volunteerism, and charitable giving of all kinds. Additionally, Giving Tuesday takes place on November 28th. Like National Philanthropy Day, Giving Tuesday allows us to put generosity first and pay it forward through action.
Yes, your monetary donations are always needed! In fact, year-end financial donations account for a considerable amount of many organizations’ budgets. According to Charity Navigator, charities receive an average of 41% of their contributions in the last part of the year. Plus, there are advantages to doing so beyond just enjoying the spirit of giving brought on by the holidays. For those who itemize their tax returns there may also be tax benefits to donating monetarily. Check with your accountant, because giving before the year’s end might just help you as well as others.
So, remember to pay it forward through time, talent, and treasure this holiday season and beyond. Philanthropy is the greatest gift of humankind, for philanthropy is in all of us.
About Collin Mays
Collin Mays is a well-respected leader from the Midwest who has worked in state and local government. For years, Mr. Mays has also served his community, sharing his time and talent with the nonprofit sector. He is Co-Chair of The Soul of Philanthropy Michigan (TSOP), a project that pays tribute to black philanthropy. The project raised more than $400,000 between 2022-2023. Mr. Mays also served as the 2021 Committee Chair of Alzheimer’s Association – Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Under Collin’s leadership the Detroit chapter placed first in the nation with the most registered new teams and 17th in the nation for fundraising, raising over $800,000.
As a public servant, Collin Mays has served as the Director of Economic Inclusion with the City of Cincinnati, Community and Economic Development Director with Delta Township, and Economic Development Director with the City of Center Line.