Tag Archive for volunteering

Three Questions to Uncover your Passions

What inspires you to give back?

Most giving back results from a personal connection to a cause or group.  If you haven’t yet found the cause that drives you to learn more, do more, and tell more people about it, try asking yourself the following Three Questions:

  1. What organizations do you give credit for the person you have become?
  2. What activities bring you JOY that you want to make sure people in the future can do?
  3. When you travel (in your own neighborhood or around the world) what groups do you see that are treated unfairly or need extra help?

Yes, OK, I’ll share my answers to these questions:

  1. What organizations do you give credit for the person you have become?
    (Chronologically…) My church (the United Church of Christ), Boy Scouts, Harvard College, Stanford University, improv, and the Reuters Digital Vision Program.
  2. What activities bring you JOY that you want to make sure people in the future can do?
    Listening to jazz, watching live theater, walking in nature, snorkeling.
  3. When you travel (in your own neighborhood or around the world) what groups do you see that are treated unfairly or need extra help?
    Those suffering from poverty, homelessness, and disasters. Women and girls, especially in the developing world, but in America, too. Cancer patients and their families. Torture victims.

These answers are a pretty good reflection of how I focus my giving back.

Volunteering:

  • I volunteer quite a bit with my church, especially around Peace and Justice issues and our connection to Stanford University.

  • I spent a year in the Reuters Digital Vision Program volunteering with the Grameen Foundation on a project to improve access to microcredit (small loans to women entrepreneurs in the developing world) through software.
  • I view my performances with an improv troupe as giving back (we aren’t paid, and all of the ticket proceeds go to scholarships).

Donating:

  • I make financial gifts to support my church, poverty alleviation and disaster relief efforts, Harvard, the environment, medical research and jazz (in roughly that order).

  • Being an active audience member, seeking out rising jazz talent (attending and tipping!) helps preserve that community.
  • I’ve set up a living trust that will, upon my death, distribute the bulk of my estate to some of the organizations and causes listed here. (Watch for a future blog post on this important topic….)

The Three Questions were the seed that germinated into the book Giving Back. I started trying them out on people in December 2010, and here are some answers that were shared back then.
I invite you to consider your answers, and would love to hear about them, in the comments if you feel like sharing globally, or in email or conversation if that’s more comfortable.

What organizations do you give credit for the person you have become?  What activities bring you JOY that you want to be sure people in the future can do?  When you travel (in your own neighborhood or around the world) what groups do you see that are treated unfairly or need extra help?

The Three Questions as posed to Lisa Chu's Essential Self Extravaganza (Dec 2010)

 

Submit your Stories

Now that much of the main content for Giving Back is written, I’m looking to balance the “how-to” framework and resources with more stories from real people.  If you have a good story about how volunteering or donating changed your life, I’d love to hear it, and potentially include it either in the book or as a blog post.

Stories should be short (less than 300 words, about three times as long as this blog entry…)  and first-hand (no anecdotes from around the web, please.) You can submit them at this web form.  If I use your story in the book, I’ll send you a free copy.  Thanks!

Volunteering Ideas for 5 – 9 year olds

You would love to get your elementary school child involved in some service projects, but it seems as if liability concerns have outweighed family involvement, and many non-profit organizations are not willing to accept volunteers under the age of 13.  What sorts of activities can you do with your pre-teen?

Younger children can often bring enthusiasm to a project.  They may not have the physical strength or coordination, long attention spans or the attention to detail required for some projects, and they shouldn’t be involved in projects that involve physical risk or unsupervised contact with outsiders.  Parental involvement is practically a must, though some school, church, or scouting groups may enable sharing the supervisory responsibility.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Arts and Crafts projects:  Making greeting cards or holiday decorations for people that might otherwise be forgotten (soldiers or people in nursing homes, hospitals, or prisons).  Involving others in the crafting process can be part of the volunteer service as well.
  • Environmental:  Under the watchful eye of a parent, adult leader or older youth, children can participate in picking up trash, beach cleanups, planting seedlings, and removing invasive plants up to the limits of their attention span.
  • Senior Citizens:  Visiting senior citizen in a nursing home or their own homes can be mutually beneficial for the elders and children.  Game playing, reading together, or helping out with simple household tasks are things that younger children can do to provide stimulation, conversation and practical assistance for seniors who might otherwise be isolated.
  • Hospitalized children:  A visit from a new friend of the same age can be a great way to cheer up a patient.
  • Food Closets:  Children with adult supervision can help sort, bag and box food donations for distribution.
  • Fund Raising:  Walk-a-thon, lemonade stands, coin drives, can drives or car washes
    As concerns about children going door-to-door have increased, fund raising through neighborhood pledge or gift solicitations or cookie, popcorn or magazine subscription sales have declined.  Still, parents can be involved in the solicitations while the children participate in walking or selling lemonade, or encouraging relatives to share canned food.
Another great resource for ideas is Jenny Friedman’s The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering:  Doing Good Together
Do you have other suggestions?  Please add them in the comments! (Comment button is in top header, underneath the post title.)

Welcome!

Come in, come in!

If you’re looking for information about giving back–both volunteering time and donating money–you’ve come to the right place.

It’s a topic that fascinates me, to the point of writing  a book about it.

Giving Back:  Discovering your Values and Putting them in Action   is not available yet, but the ideas are formed, and rather than wait until there’s an honest-to-goodness book with pages (or even an eBook with virtual pages), I’ll use this site as a way to share some of those ideas.

In addition to content from the book, I’ll also write some stand-alone blog posts:

  • Shorter, “half-baked” pieces
  • Book reviews or pointers to other resources
  • Notes from meetings and talks on the topic
  • Responses to questions or reactions to comments
I look forward to the journey, and will close with a quick acknowledgment to Eugene Eric Kim, who told me the right way to write a book is to start a blog.  Hey, it only took me 8 months to agree!
-SPK