There are many myths about giving. For instance, we might think giving is about writing a check (which we might not be able to do right now). We might think giving is about volunteering our time (which we just don’t have much of right now).
But giving can actually be many different things. And all of us can give in some way. In fact, we can make giving part of our everyday routine. The key is to figure out what works for you. Since we’re all different, we’ll also give in different ways, according to Jennifer Iacovelli in her book Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day.
“To give back in a meaningful way, I believe you need two key components,” she writes. These are: “A person should genuinely want to make a positive impact,” and “The act should benefit someone or something else.”
In Simple Giving, Iacovelli shares six giving models, along with inspiring real-life examples and lots of helpful resources. Below are three ideas from her book.
Perform acts of kindness.
“The best thing about everyday acts of kindness is that you can perform them with little to no money,” writes Iacovelli, a writer, speaker and consultant who pens the blogs Simple Giving Lab and Another Jennifer. She shares these examples, some of which you might be doing already:
- Letting a busy mom with kids cut in front of you at the checkout line.
- Paying for a stranger’s coffee.
- Making dinner for your neighbor.
- Delivering doughnuts to the local fire department.
- Picking up trash in your neighborhood.
- Offering to babysit (for free) for a couple or single parent.
- Donating used books to your local library.
Take the time to think about how you can incorporate kindness into your everyday.
Shop with a conscience.
For instance, shop for fair trade products. Iacovelli defines fair trade as: “a movement to provide fair prices to producers of goods in developing countries, with the goal of reducing poverty, treating workers in an ethical way, and promoting environmentally sustainable practices.”
When you’re shopping online or at a store, Iacovelli suggests considering everything from where the product was made to whether the workers are treated fairly and ethically to whether the company has ethical business practices.
You also can shop locally and buy products from companies that give back. TOMS, for instance, gives away one pair of shoes to a child for every pair sold.
Sometimes, it’s tough to collect this kind of information about companies. But there are many resources that can help. For instance, you can search for Fair Trade Certified products at Fair Trade USA. Ethical Barcode is a free app that gives you information about a company’s values and other ethical issues. Iacovelli has a list of products, stores and resources that give back at her website.
Explore how you’d like to give.
Think about what is important to you and what types of giving make you feel happiest, Iacovelli writes. She also suggests considering these questions: “Is there a certain cause that keeps you up at night? Whom do you feel most compelled to help? If you had an unlimited amount of money at your disposal, how would you use it to change the world?”
Think about what motivates you and what impact you’d like to have. You also might define your goals for simple giving. Iacovelli shares these sample goals: performing one act of kindness per month and trying to shop at the local farmers’ market every week; or raising funds for a local nonprofit with proceeds from one of your products and joining a giving circle.
To help you figure out how you’d like to give, check out these resources:
- Find Your Passion Worksheet (a pdf), which “asks questions to help you narrow your passions into causes you want to support.”
- GuideStar provides comprehensive, up-to-date information on nonprofit organizations.
- GreatNonprofits features reviews and ratings for nonprofit organizations.
Giving is personal. And there’s no one-size-fits-all way to give. There are many ways. It really depends on what you’re passionate about and what inspires you. Take some time to figure out how you’d like to give on a regular basis.
Delivering photo available from Shutterstock